In agility, comprehensive foundation skills are rarely given the importance and focus they deserve and need. Often, beginning classes are taught by assistant instructors rather than the most knowledgeable instructor there.
I always shake my head at this because teaching a truly good foundation is the core of all agility work, and, for the most part, it is not only under taught but also not understood. Most agility schools are about a curriculum. You do step 1, step 2, step 3 and they keep moving you on to the next step. The fact that your dog may not be good at what they are doing, for instance, can’t hold a sit stay, keeps running away when stressed or just plain running off, doesn’t seem to be a big concern. How much class time is wasted by dogs that have no sit stay, run off, sniff or go visiting? This could all be avoided if dogs and handlers were taught a proper foundation from the beginning by an experienced instructor.
When foundation work is given the focus and care it deserves, the benefits can be incredible. You can create a dog that is not only willing to work but is super excited to work because they love it! A strong foundation creates a dog who pays attention to its handler and isn’t always looking around to explore or find something better to do. Doesn’t it suck when your dog would rather get focused on a bug in the dirt than play with you? Heck yes it sucks!
So why not start your agility foundation the right way? Here are some of the things we will be focusing on in this class:
- Teach your dog to choose to pay attention to you rather than being distracted by their environment, dogs and people.
- Learn to play with your dog in a way that promotes engagement and excitement.
- Learn great tugging and toy play and learn how to elevate the value of your treat rewards.
- Show them how to power towards you when you call, focused and ready to work.
- Teach them control when they are excited, for sit stays and other behaviors by making that control fun and rewarding.
- Learn how to generalize behaviors.
- Learn how to proof behaviors.
- Be a problem solver not a problem avoider.
- Learn how to understand and maintain clear criteria.
- Channel excitement and drive into self-control and focus on the task.
- Build drive for all the activities you are going to teach, and transition that play drive into the work.
By utilizing these skills and the others that we will focus on in this class, you will be well on your way to training not just a GOOD agility dog but a BRILLIANT one!
Your training will be streamlined and focused. You will get much more quality training done in a quarter of the time it took you before because you will have a plan. You won’t be dealing with a dog that runs off during training, is constantly breaking its stay, has little or no play drive or is lackluster and uninterested in training.
These are all things that need to be dealt with first.
I love this part of training. Once you are good at it everything becomes easier and more fun!