- Agility Training -
COURSE III : FOUNDATION FOR AGILITY
Course duration : eight weeks Cost: £60
Whether your destination dog sport is agility, flyball, obedience or working trials, or you simply want to create an even better bond and understanding between yourself and your companion and would like to have some fun in the process, our Foundation course helps develop a wide range of skills in dogs and handlers.
This course leads directly on from the Tricks & Treats course, although as with all our Eight Week Courses it can be taken as a stand-alone unit if required.
The majority of the Foundation course is taught without the use of agility equipment. Most lessons are presented in a series of games with lots of rewards – both toys and treats. The activities we teach are not purely for fun; they all have a valid and sometimes surprising use in later agility training.
These are some of the areas we work on:
Groundwork – Agility requires your dog to correctly negotiate a series of obstacles in an order set by the judge. You want your dog to work smoothly and to focus forward – not jump up at you, nip your trouser leg or spin constantly in frustration. Groundwork is sometimes called 'flatwork' because it doesn't involve jumping or climbing, but teaches you how to co-ordinate your movements so that you can work in unison with your dog.
Groundwork incorporates Navigation – Agility dogs are directed around a course using a variety of commands, including 'directionals'. Your dog needs to understand commands that will turn him left or right, move him straight on, send him further out or bring him closer to you. More advanced commands will eventually send your dog around the back of an obstacle to approach it from behind, ask him to pass between two obstacles to get to a third, or to complete more complex patterns of jumps such as 'snakes', (slaloms) or 'boxes'. We make an early, fun start on directional commands, making the whole process enjoyable for the dog.
Motivation, attention and speed – All our training is positive and reward-based. Training involves the appropriate use of treats and toys, and the understanding of which of a number of innate 'drives' motivate your dog and consequently which rewards he regards as worth working for.
You will be taught how to use play as a part of your training and this will be incorporated into other areas such as the dog's self control, and encouraging his speed and accuracy.
Your dog must learn to pay attention to you and you need to become the most valuable thing in your dog’s world! If he can’t give you the attention you require in a low-distraction environment, he certainly won’t concentrate on you in an agility environment. Being able to work around other dogs in a training class, will help your dog’s concentration.
Targeting – One of the most valuable training aids in agility is a plastic lid off a pot! We teach your dog to respond to the 'target' by touching it with his paw or nose, then eventually transfer that activity to various agility tasks including the large contact equipment. Targeting is taught as a game for the dog and past experience shows that with the right motivation, dogs go crazy for it. Targeting is most easily taught with clicker-training.
Proprioception – 'The ability to sense the position, location, orientation and movement of the body and it's parts'. In other words, teaching your dog about his body. This isn't as daft as it sounds, because most dogs have no idea what their limbs are up to, especially the back ones. Your dog needs to appreciate where his centre of gravity is, how his back legs work, and so on. You will teach your dog balance, co-ordination and confidence - which are all essential for keeping poles up and negotiating a narrow dog walk or a moving obstacle such as the see-saw, safely and at speed. We use a range of everyday objects such as ladders, wobble cushions and plastic crates so the dogs learn to use their body more effectively.
All this in just eight weeks? Yes, you're going to be busy!
Passing the Assessment and moving on to Agility training
A low-key, informal assessment is made on week seven of this course, and certificates of 'Pass' or 'Attendance' presented on week eight.
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