Foundation Exercises

Discussion in 'Agility and Dog Sports' started by Maxy24, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    8,070
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Cats, Dog, Leopard Gecko, Gerbils, Fish, African C
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I have mentioned in the past that I'd like to try agility with Tucker but am starting to think a class would be better than just doing it on my own. However that will depend on how much money I have this summer. I haven't done anything with it yet because I always have something more important to work with him on each time I go home and I don't really know where to start. I'm also concerned that his training after the class will be so sporadic that he'll forget everything he learned because I'll be back in school and only come home about once a month except on long breaks.

    In any case, I always hear about "foundation work" and know the names of some stuff...hind end awareness, rear and front crosses, get outs, cik and cap turns, running contacts, 2 on 2 off contacts, etc. I don't know what most of that actually entails though...the only one I have any idea on how to train is the 2 on 2 off contacts because I read Shaping Success. So I'm hoping you all can put together a list of foundation exercises and commands someone should or at least could teach before actually getting on equipment. I'd also love a written description of what each is (whether you write it yourself or give me a link I don't care) and then websites or videos that explain/show how to go about teaching it. Then I'd have an idea of what things I can start working with him on before the class, since I don't think the places I have access to actually have foundation classes. Even if I don't end up doing agility with him, I think this could be a good resource.

    So, what do you need to teach before you can start working on the actual obstacles?
     
  2. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    For Keegan, Foundations class was ~80% learning how to handle being on an agility field with lots of other dogs/humans running around being distracting. He knew most of the behaviors we were to train in the class, but there was no way we'd be able to start in a more advanced class with his distraction level as high as it was. He can't learn to walk across the dog walk if he's way too focused on the other dogs! So while it's good to have an idea of what you'll be doing in foundations class, I still would suggest taking the class just to get him used to being on an agility field.

    That said, basic obedience is extremely important.... He should know sit, down, stay, heeling (on both sides with turns and pace changes), recalls, leave it is handy, and pottying on cue (or at least, don't pee on the field!). A good foundations class will probably just gloss over these behaviors and expect you to put in a lot of work on them at home.

    I felt that way about Keegan, too, which is why he was over a year old before we started agility. But I've learned that there's ALWAYS something that seems more important.... "I can't take agility, he doesn't know ____ behavior yet!!" But at some point you just have to jump in and get started. Often starting to train new things will make the old things get better on their own, or at least with less effort than when you were focusing on them alone. A class will also help you isolate in your mind the specific things he actually does need to work on now, and you can just add that into your homework.

    It's amazing how well dogs remember this stuff. With Luna, we took classes for about 4 months, then I moved and we had to take almost a year off. The next time we went to class, she was a little rusty, but by the end of the class she was running almost as well as when we had left off. ;)
     
  3. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Messages:
    14,011
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Illinois
    Home Page:
    hind end awareness - knowing that they have back feet and how to use them. I believe Susan Garrett mentions in her 2o2o DVD that backing straight up about 20 feet as her measure of when a dog truly knows how to back up. Can they target individually with each foot? Things like ladder work and cavaletti help with this too.

    rear and front crosses -
    Generally speaking you cross when you need the dog to turn. Depending on how a course is laid out, however, you may cross one or two obstacles before the dog actually needs to make the turn in order to position yourself better in order to aid the dog's path better.
    A rear cross is when you cross behind the dog (behind the dog's path) as the dog takes an obstacle in his path. A front cross is when you cross in FRONT of the dog's path.

    get out-
    This is a training term people use differently. For us it means go out laterally from me.

    cik and cap turns-
    Here's about cik & cap in Silvia Trkman's words:
    http://silvia.trkman.net/cikcap.htm

    As far as contacts go, first I think you probably understand about contacts but I will explain: on each contact obstacle (teeter, a-frame, dog walk) there is a "contact zone" which is yellow. In AKC the dog must get at least any part of one paw in the yellow in order to not get a failure to perform (NQ) on the contact obstacle.
    For a running contact, the dogs have been trained to get in the yellow without stopping. There are a few different methods of actually training a running contact. A 2o2o as you know is a stopped contact with the two front paws on the ground and the two rear paws on the obstacle. There's also 4 on where the dog stops at the bottom of the contact with all four paws in the yellow... and 4 off which as I understand it is the dog runs down the contact and then stops AFTER coming off the obstacle, so it's like a running contact with a stop once they get off the obstacle? All of these will have a few different ways to train them.


    Important foundation exercises: handling on the flat. Like lizzybeth said, you should be able to run your dog and do crosses away from the equipment. Mostly learning how to move with your dog and your dog learning to move with you. Turns, crosses, acceleration and deceleration.
    Another one is stuff like wobble boards... getting the dog on stuff that moves and maintaining their confidence on stuff that moves.

    here's two videos on YouTube that might help too:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUmHNOpGrjE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk4DW0u3vKc

    Also I would strongly recommend picking a jump methodology and working on that. I love Suzanne Clothier's jumping book but for teaching puppies to jump I think I am a bigger Susan Salo fan. She has a puppy jumping DVD but from what I heard it is the same as her foundation stuff just with jump bumps instead of actual jumps.
     
  4. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    8,070
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Cats, Dog, Leopard Gecko, Gerbils, Fish, African C
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Thanks guys, I think for now I will do crate games (I bought and watched the DVD but then went back to school before I could do anything with it), teach him to heel (just started that last time I was home), and proof his sit and down so he will stay better. I really haven't done a lot with him because I see him so sporadically...I've taught him a bunch of stuff but not thoroughly (he sits and downs but I never added distance, duration, or distractions). I also get frustrated with how long it takes for him to get things. It'll be especially important since all the classes I'm looking at say "must have taken beginner obedience or have equivalent" so I assume they test him or something to make sure he can follow the commands they would have learned in that class.

    So after I get those things done I can think about the actual agility type stuff more.

    Do you think he would get rejected from a class because he is fearful of strangers? He won't just randomly react to people, they'd have to try and touch him, but I don't know what the policies generally are for aggressive dogs and whether the teacher/other people in class are generally involved in handling your dog at all.
     
  5. Panzerotti

    Panzerotti New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    976
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Grande Prairie, AB
    It sounds like focusing on obedience right now would be your best bet. Being confident in your control and basic handling of your dog (sit, down, recall, heel position on both sides of your body) will make training agility much easier and enjoyable for you both. Crate games are a great foundation as well!
     
  6. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    You'll definately need to tell your trainer about this before you start the class. Most of the time it can be managed, but there will be times when your trainer may need to hold your dog for restrained recalls and such.
     
  7. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    19,779
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    8 dogs and 6 horses.
    Location:
    Ontario
    Home Page:
    I personally am NOT a fan of formal obed before agility. I had some issues transitioning dogs who were super focused on watching me and heeling. I do think basic obedience is good, however I find that most foundation classes I have gone to teach what you need.

    I don't think you need any sort of heel to do agility. (you might want it to walk around the grounds though) You may not need a sit (depending on your venue).. etc etc.

    What you do need is a dog who wants to play with you. The more rewards your dog will work for the better (toys, food etc) You need to instill that you are the most awesome thing out there.

    Hind end awareness, crosses, stays, contacts are all very important for sure. But the first thing I work on is things like restrained recalls, having the dog come to the side I want to tug. Building drive to play. Then I work on things like hind end awareness (though it seems the JRTs come with this pre installed..) targetting behaviour, stays etc.
     
  8. Panzerotti

    Panzerotti New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    976
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Grande Prairie, AB
    Susan Garrett teaches a lot of obedience before agility, her dogs have never had a problem with shifting focus. ;)

    In her 5 minute recall course, she teaches a lot of sits and downs, recalls (obviously), and loads of reinforcement in the "reinforcement zone" aka: heeling.

    To me, it is much more enjoyable having a dog that pops into heel position on either side to line them up at the start line, has a reliable stay in any position, and has a solid recall. Obedience doesn't have to be boring and drive-lowering. Properly trained obedience is just a bunch of more fun games to teach your dog that will build your relationship.
     
  9. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    19,779
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    8 dogs and 6 horses.
    Location:
    Ontario
    Home Page:
    From what I have read she teaches her puppies agility stuff concurrently with obedience. That I have no issue with. Its not like she has them ready to enter novice obed and then does agility... This is what I do now. I don't teach heeling first, I teach puppy games first. But if I had an adult I would teach handler focus concurrently with things like targeting etc.

    Actually it was from her that I got the 'its most important to have a dog who wants to play' I would say that before doing obed too.
     
  10. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Messages:
    2,269
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    several
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Home Page:
    I don't think formal obedience is necessary for success in agility and I don't think it always helps that much. You can compete and do well with a dog who has no start line stay, pulls like crazy on lead and has never had any formal obedience training. And you can have a dog with tons of formal obedience training that doesn't do well in agility at all. IME depending on how formal obedience is taught, it can actually hinder a dog in agility.

    That isn't to say you shouldn't do obedience before agility. But you should train it in an upbeat, positive manner. Sure it will be useful to have a dog who stays when you ask. And recalls are important no matter what you want to do with your dog. But the goal of your training shouldn't be a dog who obeys so much as developing a good working relationship with your dog. I think even more than "obedience", teaching as many tricks as you can think gives you an excellent foundation for agility. It teaches you to be a better trainer (with stuff that isn't important), teaches your dog to be a better trainee, offers great information on what your dog find reinforcing and how they like to work, can be used to develop coordination, flexibility and build muscle, can be used to build behaviors like 2o2o and helps you develop a good, positive working relationship with your dog.

    So I guess I'm saying, tricks can be a great foundation for agility :)

    Another thing you can work on for foundation is teaching running contacts with a plank. Even if you opt to not do RCs, following this plan will set your dog up to be super confident and fast on equipment: http://www.silvia.trkman.net/

    Also you can work on teaching turns: http://silvia.trkman.net/cikcap.htm

    And well...while you're there might as well read all the great training info on the site :)
    http://silvia.trkman.net/training.htm
     
  11. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    19,779
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    8 dogs and 6 horses.
    Location:
    Ontario
    Home Page:
    I agree on the tricks!!

    But my take is that stay isn't just in the 'obedience bailiwick' but its also a part of agility (for the most part)
     
  12. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Messages:
    8,893
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 Pit bulls and 2 Malinois, We like to stay busy.
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    Certain things about having trained formal obedience first have been slightly hindering for my dogs in agility. That said I'm not an expert so maybe the experts, like SG, have a better way of transitioning dogs.

    I trained my dog specifics of what heel meant and how to come to it and the importance of staying on one side, etc. Sloan and Backup are both very uncomfortable with coming to my right side. They also have a lot of handler focus which has caused some issues when I am asking them to look at (don't run into!) and look for (don't rely on me too much) an obstacle. <--- This is what my trainers have said is the biggest hinderance for obedience trained dogs, convincing their dogs it's more than okay, it is right, to look away from the handler for the duration of the run.

    These things (and more) are of course not killer to an agility career and in my world Obedience is more important than agility so I don't totally regret the order we went in but I have noticed some issues.

    One way to combat the issue is I try my hardest to not cross train any commands. Heel on my left is Fuss in Obedience, I call it "Get in" in agility. Heel on the right does not exist in obedience, I call it "close" in agility. I use "come" and never "here" for Backup because he is too easily confused, I do use "here" for Sloan but I almost never do formal obedience with her and I think she can differentiate between her dad and I.

    Also I don't ask for obedience from Sloan in agility for the most part. I ask for a killer start line, which did come from obedience, I ask for a strong recall, which did come from obedience, and that is it really. All other commands are agility specific and it seems to work best this way.
     
  13. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    19,779
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    8 dogs and 6 horses.
    Location:
    Ontario
    Home Page:
    This was Dekka's biggest issue when we changed focus (for those that don't know I started out in formal obed) She would run into the weaves due to focusing on me. I had to click for moments of looking away/at the weaves.

    LOL now I have a dog who has a habit of blowing me off when high.. sigh.
     
  14. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    8,070
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Cats, Dog, Leopard Gecko, Gerbils, Fish, African C
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Thanks for the advice and links. I'm likely never going to compete in agility or anything (unless Tucker happens to be amazing or something) so I do really want to work on his obedience more. Plus all the classes I'm looking at have some obedience requirement as a prerequisite. These are the three places I'm looking at (chosen because of proximity and use of positive training methods...or at least they say they use positive training methods):

    http://www.masterpeacedog.com/

    http://www.family-dog-training.com/

    http://www.dogslearningcenter.com/


    I'll likely go with one of the second two because they actually mention foundation/handling skills and talk more about their training methods on their sites.
     
  15. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    For most pet dog owners, "obedience" means that the dog knows sit and down, walks on leash without pulling most of the time, can do a recall on a long line, etc. You can look at the course descriptions for the prerequisites, but generally trainers just want to avoid having to show an owner how to teach sit during agility class. ;)
     
  16. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Messages:
    8,893
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 Pit bulls and 2 Malinois, We like to stay busy.
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    This! Formal and basic obedience are very different. :)
     
  17. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    14,854
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Twin Citay!
    Definitely contact them ahead of time, like Lizzybeth says, and beyond that I would go and watch the instructor teach a few classes before taking the class, if at all possible. One of the nosework classes Frodo and I took had an instructor that was fine with reactive dogs being in her class. However, I had to remind her every time that we came in to do a search that she couldn't take boxes away from him, and then when he FOUND the source I would again have to remind her that I had to be the person to remove things from him, because she would forget and keep trying. So even though an instructor may be fine having a dog like that in class, it's also important to find out how much experience they have with it and how that changes how they behave in the class.
    When I worked on restrained recalls in PA, we just had someone hold the end of Frodo's leash, since he doesn't like strangers touching him, especially when he is wound up.


    (I don't want to sound like I didn't like that Nosework instructor, I certainly did and I was very appreciative that she let Frodo in her class, but if I hadn't been more vocal each time about Frodo's issues, someone could have been hurt.)
     

Share This Page