Introduction to Chaz and Agility

Discussion in 'Agility and Dog Sports' started by SuZQuzie, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. SuZQuzie

    SuZQuzie New Member

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    Hey there! I recently heard rave reviews about this forum and decided to join.

    My name is Suzie and my boyfriend and I recently acquired a Boxer puppy named Tobi who has been an absolute joy. I have been involved in horses since 4 years of age and have loved having a connection with my horses since we must experience the training, the warm-ups, the exhaustion, the cool-downs, the triumphs and the failures together. My boyfriend has shown a huge interest in gaining that connection with Tobi through competitive obedience, rally-o, and, of course, agility.

    Even though I'm not the one doing the competing, I'm just as excited as he is.

    On Wednesday we are starting a Beginning Obedience training course at a dog school with a focus on agility.

    Right now Tobi is 14.5 weeks old. What we were planning on doing was starting with obedience and rally-o in the ring before moving to agility. Not only would this give him time to mature mentally and physically, but it would also expose him to the whole "show" thing and teach him that its time to focus. Would that be a correct route? While I know what works for horses, I admit, I'm comparatively clueless for dogs!

    Anything that we need to know?

    In terms of athletic ability, what is there to look for?

    He tracks straight and shows no pronations, but I suppose that can change with development.

    In terms of conformational soundness, he has good stifle angulations, but is slightly toed up/cow hocked behind. Mostly straight in front save for being minutely toed out. He has a strong, straight topline. Anything else I should look for?

    For heart, he is gutsy. My boyfriend and I have taken him with us when we have gone rockclimbing and he has no problem getting through areas that was tough for our 1.5 year old Boxer.

    For horses, stretching and warm-up are critical to maintain soundness. I'm assuming that is true for dogs as well? What stretches/warm-ups are appropriate?

    At what age should one introduce jumps? At what height? How quickly do we increase to full height? Do you ever train higher than full height?

    In the horse world, it is fairly common to take leg x-rays of a horse destined for upper level competition before starting rigorous training to watch for changes over time. Is this true for dogs?

    Anything else? Good readings?
     
  2. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    Yup, stretching and warm-ups are very important for agility. Auggie gets stretched well before each practice, and before each run at a trial. We also do warm-ups doing figure eights over jumps, and at a trial moving up to run-bys.

    The most important rule of jumping is NO FULL HEIGHT JUMPING until at least 12 months old. I'm not sure how boxers grow so you may want to wait until he's more like 18 months before doing full height jumps... I'm sure there are a few people who will chime in on that here. You can put a bar flat on the ground between jump standards now and have him learn to basically step over the bar through the standards, but I wouldn't worry about increasing jump height for a while. There's a lot of flatwork that can be learned in agility and learning it all first is very helpful for building a working relationship with your dog and establishing communication and control on the course.

    As for how you increase height and how quickly, you increase height v-e-r-y slowly and you'll have to read your dog to know if you're trying to increase height too quickly. I would probably not raise bars more than two inches in a single training session. For some dogs you will have to train at once height for a while and then move it, for other dogs you can raise height more quickly without causing any stress or difficulty in clearing the jump bars. Watch your dog closely and you should be able to tell if you're asking too much of him too quickly. If you are, back off and slow down a bit, and worry about raising heights a little bit later.
    There was a very interesting thread on here about what jump heights people train and practice at... I will try and find it for you. In the dog world people basically don't like to put more strain on the dog than is necessary so no, generally speaking, people do not train at heights higher than their official jump height.
    ETA: here it is - http://www.chazhound.com/forums/t98863/

    There are some x-rays you can do on dogs to evaluate aspects of their joint health. I did x-rays on Auggie's hips, elbows, and knees so I would know what they looked like overall and if there were any concerns - I also sent them in to OFA to have them evaluated by professionals other than my vet. Not everybody who participates in the sport of agility is so concerned as to get x-rays done and not everybody will send them in to OFA to get them evaluated, but it is something that I personally did and will likely always do.

    There's a LOT of reading out there available! I would visit cleanrun.com and browse through their book section, and if you have lots of cash to drop you can check out the DVD sets too - lots of cool stuff but the DVD sets are expensive. There's soooo much to read and so many different topics, but you can browse that site and see what's out there. I personally love the Jane Simmons-Moake books though a lot of people seem to find some of her methods outdated and don't like them for that reason... personally I think there's so much good information in there that simply ignoring the outdated suggestions is still worth the read.
     
  3. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Beanie,

    I have that series of books, I think they are very good. Yes, they are getting a little outdated, however there is still a ton of excellent info and exercises in them, especially for jumping, backchaining and sending. She still writes Distance skill articles for Clean Run and I always find them fun and interesting to read. Although I don't do much training these days with Petie, I will set it up and do them if I think it will benefit us for AAC Masters Gamblers.
     

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