Beginners obedience, rally, or agility?

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by sammgirl, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. sammgirl

    sammgirl ACoops favorite

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    Harper is starting puppy preschool this Thursday, and we're also doing handling classes as well with a pro handler.

    But once puppy preschool is over in seven weeks, I'm going to put her in a beginners class of either obedience, rally, or agility while continuing her handling classes.

    Obedience is really what I'd like to do because it seems the most basic and I'm a real novice at dog sports. However, agility looks awesome and fun, and I think that it would really be up Harper's alley more so then obedience. Harper really needs both mental and physical stimulation.

    Rally looks like it would be a good dog sport for an older dog that doesn't want to or can't do the jumps in agility and obedience, but maybe I have the wrong perception.

    I've got plenty of time to pick, but I'm just curious about how you all started out in the wide world of dog competition.

    ps- also thinking about trying out tracking w/ Harper. Anyone ever done that?
     
  2. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Do you want to be competitive in agility? If so start there or train it concurrently with obedience.
     
  3. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    IMO you should always do basic obedience first, then move on to agility. Mostly because I think it gives you a great foundation of not just a skill set for your dog, but the actual working relationship with your dog. Obviously you work differently with your dog on OB than agility but it's a great place to start.

    Also, if you've trained in an obedience class, you'll be able to do rally no problem.
     
  4. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    I guess it would depend on your obed class. In my experience you will repeat many of the basic things in an agility foundation class (restrained recalls) etc

    But the problem is a GOOD obed class is goign to make it much more difficult to do agility. In agility you don't want a super handler focused dog! Or won that is used to being glued to your left leg.
     
  5. Snark

    Snark Mutts to you

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    We finished our puppy class a couple of weeks ago and we're still practicing the basics (Riley has a great recall, is learning to down at a distance but still needs work on his stays.) I've got him signed up for a foundation agility class (strictly handling, no obstacles) at the end of the month. Since I won't be able to take him to the next foundation class (obstacles) until he's 10 months old, I'll probably look around for a basic (rather than beginning competitive) obedience class.

    I took some tracking classes with my rott/shepherd mix years ago - we had a good time with it. If there's a tracking club in your area, you can try contacting them to see if they hold classes that allow non-members to participate.

    If you're anywhere near the St. Louis area, the local Samoyed Rescue group hosts a fundraiser called the Canine Games every fall. The general public is invited to bring their dogs to try out various sports (flyball, rally, obedience, lure coursing, agility, carting, disc dog, junior handling, etc). Local clubs host their particular sport and it's all set at the beginning level. The local tracking club was there one year and that's how I got into that...
     
  6. k9krazee

    k9krazee Active Member

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    I did obedience classes first and wish I didn't. Jack already knew basic obedience and got sooo bored walking around in a circle heeling for an hour. I'd do the agility class. There's down time to work on obedience individually and work around distractions and still have some fun at the same time.
     
  7. CaliTerp07

    CaliTerp07 New Member

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    It's a prerequisite to sign up for my agility class to have completed a basic obedience course first.
     
  8. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    Rally isn't just for old dogs. It's actually a lot of fun. It's less strict and more interesting than obedience (more different things to do, even at novice level), but as long as you understand the signs you can do rally if you do obedience. It's pattern heeling and other basic commands. You'll also need obedience for agility. So I would go with obedience, and from there see where you actually want to compete.

    Most rally classes require that your dog has a reliable heel first, anyway. There's not enough time in 6 to 8 weeks to teach heeling and rally signs.
     
  9. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    For all of you saying you need obedience for agility.. what exactly do you need that won't be repeated in a foundation class anyway? Its pretty common for people to recommend against competition style obedience until you have started agility.

    (coming from someone who trains, teaches and competes in agility, obedience and Rally)
     
  10. xpaeanx

    xpaeanx Active Member

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    Dekka, I think they're talking just the basic basics.. sit/down/stay/come. I know my training place requires those be taught prior to the "beginner" agility class. and they have "beginner obed" and that's all it its. Focus/heeling work is something seperate.
     
  11. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    Neither I nor anybody I know who have taken basic obedience classes have ever learned competition style obedience. Like I said in my first post, I've done rally with Auggie and we did just fine, but we would have a LOT more work to do before we ever went into an obedience ring. Basic obedience is not having a dog glued to your left leg in a perfect off-lead heel... it's just basic obedience.


    eta: What xpaenex said, LOL. I'm not talking Intro To OB Trials 101, just basic obedience.
     
  12. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    But the OP is talking about dog sports. You go to obed classes and say you are interesting in competing.. a good place will start you out right to be competitive in obed, which will teach skills incompatible with agility. I have taught enough basic obed classes to say that if someone wants to learn competitive obed I am not going to teach them a half assed job. I will teach them the basics of competitive obed.

    Its been a discussion on agility lists before. Some trainers say that competative obedience seriously harms agility dogs. I don't agree with that. I do agree that an obedience only trained dog is going to have a very hard time switching over. Just trying to save the op some frustration (like i had.. Dekka started in obed as did Kaiden). Kaiden will never likely be a fast driven agility dog in part because of a seriously solid obed foundation long before we tried agility.

    Obed trains a reacting dog. The dog NEVER (well until you get to utility and do the scent articles) should make a decision outside of obeying your cue. (hence being called obedience) Your dog should be focused on you, and waiting for your next cue. Agility the dog needs to think more on their own, and you need a mix of handler focus and obstacle focus. This can be a very hard transtion for obed trained dogs. As well an agility dog shouldn't just run beside you.. they need to be ok with leaving you and not trying to watch you. They need to be unafraid to fail, to make mistakes to think a little idependently.. a rare thing in an obed trained dog.
     
  13. PoodleMommy

    PoodleMommy Yorkie Love

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    Yea, all the places I looked at for agility you need a basic obedience class first, or your dog had to pass a test proving they knew basic obedience.

    In basic obedience we have always learned sit, stay, come, down, and maybe loose leash walking.
     
  14. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I think the puppy class will probably serve as your prerequisite for agility class. All we had to know for agility class was sit, down, stay, come, and loose leash walking (NOT heel). I do agree that knowing these skills is important in agility class (I don't want to stand around watching people luring sits and downs while I'm on an agility field waiting my turn for the equipment ;)), but I also agree that competetive obedience would be counterproductive to agility.

    IMO competetive obedience is very difficult because it requires a lot of precision and focus from the dog. Some people like this kind of training, some people find it tedious and frustrating.

    Rally (correct me if I'm wrong) doesn't require quite the level of precision as competetive obedience, and a lot of people enjoy it because they can feel more relaxed and have more fun. IMO Rally obedience is more practical, real-life than other obedience.

    Agility requires speed as well as self control. IMO, compared to the above sports, there is less emphasis on cues and more emphasis on handler body language in agility... the dog has to watch you to figure out which way to turn and where to go. To me, agility feels more like a "team" sport between you and your dog, you both have to run the course just right to be successful.


    I would NOT say that obedience is the most "basic" and best for a beginner. I think the best sport for you would really just depend on your dog and what you want to do with him. Personally, I knew that Luna likes to jump and climb and run fast, so I figured she'd enjoy agility; I also knew that obedience bored me and that it's harder to get real precision (in heels and such) with a 7 pound dog than with a 60 pound dog, so I figured we'd have a better chance of being successful in agility than obedience. When I started agility, Rally wasn't an option, there were no trainers teaching it around me, so I never got involved.

    That said, I plan on doing AKC obedience with my next [50-60 pound] dog. :)
     
  15. sammgirl

    sammgirl ACoops favorite

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    Thank you for all of your replies. They have given me much more insight into this decision.

    I am thinking of competition with Harper- looks like agility won since I have to choose between the two.

    I think that Harper is an agility dog, not an obedience dog. Harper sees herself as an equal to anyone in this household, although she is not bossy about it. I think that Obedience would go against her natural tendency. She likes to learn, but she also makes decisions for herself... like when we play fetch and she ends up bringing back something really random, like a tissue or a shoe or something instead of her Kong Wubba.

    I think I'd like to foster that funny, independent streak she has. :)

    As she is a dwarfed dog, I'll have to be careful about the agility class I choose. I do not want Harper jumping before her growth plates close.

    So, I guess that one is solved. I think we're also going to get a herding instinct test done here as soon as the weather clears up. Darn snow. ;)

    Anyway, which ever one she loves the best is what we'll start her as. If she likes herding and agility equally, I'll be one busy momma! LOL

    I think that it sounds like obedience is better for labs and dogs that actually listen, rather then these half feral cardigans. ;)

    I agree that it sounds like obedience and agility foster two completely separate and conflicting behavior sets. Hesitation is really bad in an agility dog. They have to be drivey and sure of themselves.

    In obedience, the person is what the dog focuses on. Not themselves.

    Good points everyone and thanks again.
     
  16. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Oh dont' get me wrong obed is good too!! And I do it with free thinking JRTs lol. But it does take a different mindset to enjoy vs agility and even Rally. Coming from a classical dressage background I love the precision and all the training that goes into a really good heal.

    Agility though is more fun for the dog (most dogs anyway) and is sssuper addictive lol. If you can find a good agility class you shouldn't have to worry about over jumping. There are loads of basics even with out jumping. And I dont' know of any good place that recommends jumping higher than elbows till the dog is mature.
     
  17. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    :rofl1:
     
  18. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Sammgirl,
    Agree with what has already been posted. To give you an idea, I do agility and also teach it as well. With my new pup, we went to a kindergarden puppy class for socializing, training with distractions etc, the class was a combo of very basic obedience, rally and puppy foundations. The level we are in now is just continuing on with all that. My puppy agility foundations class will focus solely on the the skills for agility starts after this one in a couple of weeks. Many of those skills we are already working on at home but only because I know what skills are needed and what I can train her do now.
    Good luck and have fun.
     
  19. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Dekka, Lyric was pretty advanced in obedience, although not competetive. But he also totally "got" agility. He didn't stay glued to me at all when we were doing agility. In fact, he left me behind in the dust and I had to pray he knew all the names of everything. He ran ahead of me and "jump left" and "jump right"...."go tunnel" "go teeter, but wait up a little while I catch up" :p

    He totally seemed to get the difference between the two venues. Of course, we never got extremely advanced in agility due to his illness. But he was never "repressed" in any of his training. It was all about exuberance, but structured exuberance. And I began some tracking with him, but we didn't get far with that. It snowed. :rolleyes:

    But I guess if you want a dog that can understand that there's a time and a place for 'every' job, you need a Doberman. :rofl1:
     
  20. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    LOL Carrie. Not saying it affects all dogs. But its enough of a 'hazard' that its a talked about phenomenon in agility circles. Kaiden quite happily leaves me. (awesome gamble dog!) BUT he is not as fast as he could be due, imo, to early precision adn focus work.

    I haven't heard of the problem going the other way.. agiltiy to obed. But what is a bad plan is doing flyball first. I personally know of dogs who are good flyball dogs but can't do anything else due to the expectation of all trials being flyballl tournies. (those who start other dog sports first or do it concurrently seem to have less troubles)
     

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