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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Best Shoes for Dog Agility Training

Dog agility is one of the most exciting things that you can do with your dog! It is fun, it is fast! You love it, your dog loves it, the crowd loves it... and if you can win! For most competitors it is just a matter of getting a better round than last time, or finally getting that first clear round.

I remember how I threw away a clear round and a possible win, just because I didn't wear the proper shoes. Actually I was not prepared at all, I was not planning on entering. I just went to the show as a spectator, but a friend of mine asked me to run with her dog. I had shoes on that wanted to fall off of my feet when I started to run. I lost time trying to not loose my shoes, and then at one of the very last obstacles the dog lost points, but it was all my fault.

I realised there and then had I had my correct agility shoes on, we could have had a win. Do not make the same mistake I did. It is better to buy the best shoes for dog agility and to wear it when training and when competing. Remember you must always train as if it is a competition and compete as if it is training. What I mean by that is, try to do the training as best you can and when you compete, have fun.

Wearing the right shoes will give you a great advantage, you do not have to be afraid of slipping especially when competing indoors or outdoors after or in rainy conditions.

I found this website where you can find the very best agility shoes, CleanRun. They also sell other agility clothes, training tools, videos, DVDs, books and more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Where to buy agility equipment?

Dog agility is such great fun that most of us want to have some agility equipment at home to practice more often. Yes, I know you can make it yourself, it is possible. BUT, remember, your dog's safety comes first. So you need to have well constructed equipment. You do not want your dog to get injured just because you wanted to save some money. Rather buy one or two pieces of equipment per month.

There are many places (online and off-line) where you can buy equipment from, but I found that at Affordable Agility you will find everything you need at AFFORDABLE Prices.

They have the following agility equipment

Pause Tables
Also pause table and contact trainer combo

Adjustable bar jumps, wings, tire jumps, long jumps, travel jump set, window jump, etc.

Agility Tunnels and chutes with accessories

Weave poles ( now also a set you won't find anywhere else! It is versatile, full-fledged competition or practice weave pole set that easily converts into a channel weave set or a 2x2 weave set.)

See-saws with different variasions

A-frames and dog walks

They also stock dog agility practice equipment and not just equipment for competitions.

Then they also have:
Unusual obstacles like Cavalettis and ladders etc.
Agility course accessories like cones, equipment bags, tabs etc
Books, videos and DVD on dog agility training
Travel gear and other interesting stuff.

To view all the equipment and other products at Affordable Agility, just click on their name or on their banner.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Border Collies in Sync

It is absolutely amazing how similar these 2 Border Collies are in their nature and personalities and even in their movement. Well, they are brother and sister but from different litters. It is really interesting. I just wonder how much of the similarity is in the genes and how much comes from the sister (1 year old) copying the brother.

Look at this action shot for instance: both hind legs of both dogs are in the air in more or less the same position. The front legs also are in similar positions. And this is only one of the many pics I have of them showing such similarities. Not even to mention my daily observations of them. It is like one dog having a permanent mirror next to him.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Border Collie with 6 Feet?

When I took this pic today of my 2 Border Collies, my timing was just perfect. It looks like one dog with 4 front legs and 2 back legs. The two collies' back legs were in the exact same position. These two are brother and sister and always run together.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Training a puppy to heel

Many new puppy owners ask the question: "When can I start training a puppy to heel?" Many new puppy owners put the collar and leash on the puppy and just expect the puppy to be happy about that and to walk with them in the heel position immediately. Before you can even start to train the puppy to heal, you should put the collar on so that the puppy can get used to that. That first step can be taken immediately when you the puppy. They get used to it very quickly.

Then a few days later you can attach the leash. Make sure it is very thin and light-weighted one. Let the puppy also just get used to it. Do not pick it up as yet. Let him drag it around, while playing with him and treating him often. Take it off after a few minutes.

The next day you can do the same. After a while you can pick up the lead and encourage the puppy to follow you. If he does, click and treat. Just repeat that in a playfull manner for a few minutes. If you continue this exercise every day for a few weeks, by the time your puppy is old enough to go to dog training school for his puppy classes (about 10 weeks old) then he will already have a head start and will be very fast to learn how to heal next to you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finding the "right" agility dog

If you want to do agility, not just for fun, but also to compete in competitions, then you want the "right" dog.

You have to look at the following characteristics
  • Energy - the willingness to run - You will probably be better of with a dog with a high energy level. He must be willing to run with you even when it is hot. Agility is a very fast and active sport. Although it is not always the fastest dog that wins, it will be to your advantage if your dog can cover ground very fast. If your dog is a trotter and not a runner, you will have to work extra hard to encourage him to run.
  • Wanting to please you - Agility requires teamwork and your dog needs to be willing to work with and for you. It requires excellent focus from the dog to be aware of every body signal that you send out. Some breeds are more independant and like to think for themselves, where as some dogs might seem to be unwilling to work untill you start training them.
  • Prey drive - If your dog has prey drive (the desire to chase something that moves) you can have a winner. You want a dog that is more interested in chasing you than in sniffing around.
  • The Confident dog - Most dogs will gain confidence while training agility. I have seen many dogs growing in confidence, but it takes extra confidence to learn to perform each obstacle well and without fear as well as handling the environment of trials.
  • Trust other people - Your dog should trust you, but he should also trust other people. He will have to interact with many different people during classes and at trials. You do not want a dog that stops in the middle of a course to bark at the judge.
  • Socialized with other dogs - At training classes and at trials there are always many other dogs around, therefor your dog needs to be well socialized with other dogs. You should be in control of your dog at all times. If your dog is not so friendly towards other dogs, he should always be on lead except when it is his turn to run.
  • Health, age and weight - As mentioned before, your dog should be in perfect health and not over-weight. There is tremedous pressure on the dog's joints when he performs the obstacles and it is very bad for him if he has to carry extra weight around.

Once you have your dog, you can immediately start training him. The traditional training methods were based on correcting undesired behaviours, whereas positive reinforcement is based on reinforcing desired behaviours. All agility training must be correction free. If you are going to base your agility training on corrections, you are going to slow your dog down. When he makes a mistake, pretend it did not happen, and try again, giving the signals or commands more clearly. Every desired behaviour should be rewarded using verbal praise together with either a treat or a toy. I use the clicker with all of my training and I encourage others in my classes to also use it.