Tag Archives: teeter

Beginner Dog Agility: What to Practice at Home

If you’re enrolled in a beginner dog agility class, you may be wondering what you can practice at home without any obstacles. Here are some ideas that will boost your dog’s understanding – no equipment necessary!

Click a Trick

English Springer Spaniel Learning to Wave a Paw
Finch learning to wave a paw.

Much like obedience training, trick training is an excellent way to improve your connection with your dog. Many of these tricks will improve your dog’s strength, flexibility, and proprioception (awareness of limbs), which is very important for dog agility training!

  • Spin in a circle (in both directions)
  • Sit up/beg
  • Take a bow
  • Backing up (train this from a stationary position – do not step into the dog)
  • Wave a front paw/shake paws
  • Crawl

Need more inspiration? You can’t beat Silvia Trkman’s trick videos! (They’re free on YouTube – although she does also have a couple of excellent trick training DVDs.)

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5 Common Stopped Contact Training Mistakes

Dog Jumping Through Contact
Are you confident in your dog’s contact training? Or are you hoping, wishing, praying he’ll hit every contact? (Photo Credit: Lil Shepherd, Flickr)

As I prepare Spark for his Standard class début, I have spent a lot of time watching the Novice and Open classes at local agility trials. I am trying to find the “holes” in those dogs’ training. What is causing them to NQ? Does Spark have that skill? (Do my students’ dogs have that skill?)

Contacts are a huge trouble area for dogs competing in agility. Some handlers haven’t really trained contacts at all, and are just relying on luck to get them through. More troubling to me are the handlers who think they’ve trained their dogs to understand correct contact performance, but don’t realize the dog’s behavior is still very much depending on what the handler is doing.

Here are five common stopped contact training mistakes I have identified.

1. Multiple Cues (Physical & Verbal)

Scenario: The dog charges up and across the first two planks of the dogwalk with his handler racing beside him. As the dog begins his descent of the third plank, the handler slows down, turns to face the dog, places a hand in front of the dog’s face, and/or points at the contact zone. This is often accompanied by multiple verbal cues (“touch! touch! touch!”) or reminders to stay (“wait! you wait! WAIT!”).

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Cat Food for Dog Training? Yes!

Today I’d like to let you all in on a little secret. My go-to high value training treat is…

cat food. 

Yes, really.

Why Cat Food Makes a Great Training Treat

The more I use cat food – specifically, wet cat food that comes in cans or pouches – for training, the more I love it.

First, it’s extremely portable. Small cans of cat food are just 3 ounces. The pouches usually weigh even less than that. It’s easy to throw a few cans into your training bag and you don’t have to worry about them getting crushed or spilling. (Is there anything worse than cleaning the “powder” from freeze-dried treats out of the nooks and crannies of your bait bag? If you get it wet at all it just melts… ugh.)

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Contact Training Methods: Two-On Two-Off vs. Running

Running or stopped? If you’re having trouble choosing a contact training method, here is a list of the pros and cons of both running contacts and two-on two-off contacts.

Running Contact Training

Strata Running A-frame
To run or to stop? That is the question! (Photo by Smiling Wolf Photography)

There are a variety of running contact training methods for handlers to choose from. Popular methods include:

  • Silvia Trkman‘s method: no props, usually toy reward (she has a DVD)
  • Daisy Peel‘s method: uses a Treat-n-Train/Manners Minder food dispenser
  • Rachel Sanders‘ PVC box method for the A-frame only (she has a DVD)
  • Using a PVC hoop at the end of the equipment, which the dog is trained to run through.

Pros

It’s faster! That’s the most obvious advantage to training a running contact. The dog runs across the entire obstacle without ever stopping or slowing down.

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