Thursday, April 29, 2010

Foundation Agility Class

Foundation Class started Wednesday night and we didn’t touch ONE PIECE of agility equipment! How can you have agility class without equipment! It’s easy!!

Apparently NO ONE picks up there TOYS!!!!!

One of the most obvious, to me anyway, pieces missing between handlers and their dogs is relationship. When I say relationship, I do NOT mean they do not like or have any bond with each other. By relationship I mean, under any conditions, the dog will look to the handler for ‘what’s next’!! When the handler asks their dog for interaction, they will not go off to see another dog, smell the grass, and check out their neighbor’s treat bag, they will look to their handler for some type of interaction.

Thus, we worked on some relationship building exercises that will help in agility, and also any other performance venue they might be interested in.

We started with a wading pool full of empty plastic water bottles. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. This idea came from Michael Ellis, I’m not saying he ‘invented’ this idea, this is just where I got it.

The exercise gets your dog use to things moving under his feet, and probably one of the best benefits is it gets him use to the NOISE!! Some dogs are more noise sensitive then others, so what a great way to have positive interaction with your dog, AWAY from agility equipment. It’s just a fun game, and should be treated as such.

The Rules of the game. No pulling, pushing, or forcing of the dog into the pool in any way shape or form. It might be best to do this without a leash on to avoid this temptation. If you use a leash, it should only be used to keep your dog from leaving you. No, you can’t pick your dog up and place him in the pool either. You CAN lure him in with food or a toy. You can also use a clicker and be sure to reward when he takes a step toward the pool and remember your placement should be on or near the pool edge. For dogs that struggle with this it’s important to reward OFTEN! The more reinforcement intervals, the better.

You can also add other items to your pool with your empty bottles. Maybe a goose or deer decoy, be creative, it’s all just fun!!

Just when you thought the fun was over, we bagged up some of those plastic bottles and sat on them! Yes, MORE NOISE!! Okay, so most people just stepped on them. It’s obvious I can’t get everyone to do what I ask!! LOL. You can do this with aluminum cans, these make a nice noise too. Of course cans are worth a nickel a piece, and plastic bottles are free!

After your dog is fine with you making noise with the bag of bottles, see if you can get your dog to pounce on it himself. Let the dog make the noise! Again, the reasoning behind this is, agility equipment makes noise! Your trialing or training environment isn’t going to be sterile! Get your dog use to strange noises and textures and have fun! It’s all okay!

Next we got out the ‘Elephant Boards’. You can use ANYTHING to do this. A bowl, a small cooler or plastic container turned upside down. If you want to make an actual board, these are 12X12” square and have two 2X4” boards along two opposite sides. Easy to make from scraps, but you do not need one! The other items work just as well. This idea I got from Ann Braue’s puppy seminar, that Seeker attended about 2.5 years ago.

The idea here is to lure your puppy’s front feet onto the board with a cookie. Then you are going to manipulate your puppy with your own body to get him to move his hind feet. If you use a clicker, you’ll want to click each time he starts to lift a hind foot. Be sure to go both directions as they will be better going one way than the other.

Why do this exercise? It teaches rear end awareness! This is especially important for those larger dogs that never seem to realize that their back ends have to follow their front ends, until they end up on a long narrow board. This is also a helpful tool for pivot work in obedience. Not to mention, it’s just FUN!!

You can use this board for other fun things too! “Two on and off” behavior, then pivot, sit on the board, one front and one back foot on, let your imagination go wild! It’s all relationship building!

We also worked on teaching our dogs to look for a hoop, and run through it, we’ll use this later on for contacts. Finally we touched on assuming 2/2 on a plank, just pouncing into position.

As promised, here are the instructions on Four Feet in a box from a former post.
More body awareness and Relationship building exercises!! HAVE FUN!!

See December 11, 2009 post on four feet in a box work.


  1. I can't see the video - you have it marked as private somehow...

  2. VERY cute - it works now!! Next time - pop cans!!

  3. Funfunfun! Looked like everyone was having a great time. (I'm sure some would have like to have REAL bottles of beer involved.) Love Cougar's flying leaping out of the baby pool. Is he growing up extra fast or what?

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.