Training agility entirely at home

Discussion in 'Agility and Dog Sports' started by tessa_s212, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. tessa_s212

    tessa_s212 Guest

    If someone were to never take a class, but train agility entirely at home, what is all the things they should be teaching from day one? Unfortunately, most know about my correctional training club I am at right now.. it's not helping Marq, but only continued to make matters worse.

    I'd like to start from home, entirely from scratch. He never got too much foundation training. I've taken an advanced agility class from an excellent trainer, but never been to a beginners class to see how the professionals start from day one. I simply started by slowly teaching Marq the obstacles one by one.

    What are the foundation/flatwork exercises that you believe should be taught before ever really doing much agility? How do you think agility should be trained right from teh beginning?

    I want to fix Marq's problems, and I think starting right back from the beginning would really help him. I can't afford a better trainer. I don't have my license. I don't have a car to get there, and the only other trainer(who is really good and I will attend her classes again someday) is an hour away. But, I do have 9 or so years of experience training and competing in agility and obedience. I know many other people that have trained their dogs entirely at home without the use of a trainer, and I'm ready to this as well. Though I certainly would love as much online help as possible. (And I'd be more than glad to read books as well, but I can't afford to buy any right now.. so they have to be available through my library. And no, I don't have Clean Run.. I'd lve to, but I can't afford it.)
     
  2. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    I don't know if starting at the beginning will help or not, but there certainly are things that can be retrained and improved upon.
    It would help if we knew what the problems were, then a program can be developed to suit all of his needs and not waste time either.

    Lynn
     
  3. tessa_s212

    tessa_s212 Guest

    Marq has zoomie problems. He doesn't focus. He doesn't pay attention. He makes up his own courses as he goes along. He'll do fine while at home for the most part, being attentive towards my body language and voice commands, but at trials I am non existent to him.
     
  4. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Ok, got a bunch of questions.

    How long has he been trained for agility?
    What is his skill level? Please give LOTS of detail.
    What focus skills does he have and have you proofed them? How and Where?
    Have you taken him to other agility fields and/or fun matches for training before trialing?
    Does he give any other stress behaviours at trials or in training? Other than the zoomie's and making his own course?
    Please give details as to what he does and what you do when he gets this way?
    Is he faster at the trial then in training?
    What are your control points like? i.e contacts, startline's.

    That is a start, I'll probably have more questions.
    Got a video of training and/or a trial that we can watch?
    Lynn
     
  5. tessa_s212

    tessa_s212 Guest

    I started training him the basics about a month or two after I first got him January of 2006. So I guess that makes it about two years.

    Marq has his UKC Ag 1 agility title. He hasn't been able to earn any other titles in NADAC or CPE. At class or at home he can complete full courses cleanly and smoothly following my commands and body language. He somewhat understands rear crosses, sometimes spinning instead of a smooth turn. He knows all obstacles, though we are right now re training weave entrances using the 2 by 2 method because that was one thing I always had to help him with, retry, and babysit him on always. He knows both 2o2o and running contacts and will do one or the other depending on my body language(ie: I have a command and my own physical cue that shows him I'd prefer he'd stop) and the obstacle(never 2o2o on the teeter). I've never taught him any distance work or layering. If he sees a tunnel, he usually goes for it no matter what. I did successfully get him to understand which to choose between a contact obstacle and tunnel once at a class, however he's since backslid - after he became nervous.

    I first made it very important to teach him to focus on me far before I ever took him to classes. I used the clicker in my own back yard where I knew there'd be birds as distraction, my main worry. I have tried to train to get his attention with other dogs as distraction.. oddly enough.. the dogs are bigger distractions to him than even the birds. That is one thing I don't think I've ever really gained his focus over.

    Marq has only ever done agility in three places really. The correctional training club(both indoor and on the same fairgrounds in which the trials are held), an excellent advanced agility training class(indoor for all but one class), and my backyard. There are no fun matches in my area, unfortunately. I looked two yaers ago. I was dead set on taking him to these before I ever put him in a trial.. but that was impossible.

    Marq's zoomies aren't the typical stress that I usually see(considering more than half of my dogs are rescues with abuse in their past). At trials his startline stay broke down and was completley non existent. Things as little as saying "No" to him will cause him to stress, so I'd always let him break it. From there on, he'd zoom off, running at top speed completing the course the way he chose to do it. There were many times where he would run out of the ring in chase of a smell or dog, I'd run after him, grab him and haul him right back into his crate. Not long after that started happening, if he'd hear stress in my voice he'd run into the direction of his crate, seeking a safe place. Last I knew, we fixed this and he was at least finishing(very messy, ugly, off course filled) courses with me.
     
  6. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Ok,
    I would say that you have changed your criteria, it is loose and it has changed from training to trialing.
    No or imcomplete proofing.
    No or imcomplete obstacle discrimination training.
    No or imcomplete rear cross training. What about Front crosses?


    Pick a contact behaviour, train it and don't change it. Then there is no confusion on the part of the dog, what his job is at the contacts. (of course teeters are different)
    Retrain your startlines and proof them, don't change them.
    Those are key control points on course, if at anytime we change our criteria regrading them, the rest of the run soon follows suit.
    You need to train obstacle discriminations.
    You need to train him to call of obstacles after you have sent him to them.
    Revisit your focus work and proof him on leaving the ring before you trial again.
    If you need to know how to do any or all of these things, let me know.
    We can go through them easily and sharing sequences/exercises to get what you need for each.
    These are not uncommon problems and I am confident we can provide you with the info to solve them.
    You can train all this and more without ever saying 'no' to him or any other negative word, you can also keep the negative reinforcers to a min as well.
    All this can be trained purely positive. At this point, I think he is worried, confused, needs more training and is probably offering 'his own courses' in attempts to please you because that is what he knows. You will be surprised at how fast you can turn this around and be thrilled with the results (your dog will be thrilled too!!


    Take care
    Lynn
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
  7. tessa_s212

    tessa_s212 Guest

    Marq was supposed to be the dog I turned it all around with. The first new dog I had since I'd completely crossed over and abandoned the older correctional training methods. I researched, I was using positive methods, I tried finding as many ways to correctly train agility as I possibly could.I even used make-shift versions of a wobble board, had him walking through ladders, and walking over lowered planks so he woudln't be scared when he got to the real equipment. I taught him slowly, one by one, to go over jumps. I didn't force him through the tunnel as my trainers originally taught me to do. I was so determined and tried so hard to make things right with him. If I'd fallen under bad influence and trainers before and not done as well by the dogs I had before, at least I could do it right this time and from now on. But I failed.

    His contacts are always running, except in times when I am doing a front cross. If I am crossing as he is coming down, he'll stop in the 2o2o and as soon as I'm crossed I give him the command for the next obstacle(releasing him). There is at least some pattern to the madness that is his contact training. He doesn't really need 2o2o because for some reason he's never needed any extra training to hit the contacts every single time.

    Yes, I need to know how to do those things. Apparently the way I've been doing them isn't working with him.
     
  8. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Just a comment. I would still train a specific contact behaviour, for two reasons. One it will allow him to be more confident that the obstacle has the same criteria every time (and he seems to need confidence) And if all goes well and your new work starts to 'click' watch out! lol. Kaiden was never trained for contacts, he always hit them. We had done so much obed work he was very cautious. Then after a big break from training...now we have had a couple of missed contacts in trials because he is moving so much faster.
     
  9. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Tessa,
    You have NOT failed, somethings need some improvement etc. But failure only comes with giving up and walking away. And sometimes that isn't even a failure depending on the situation. We all have made mistakes with the best of intentions when training our dogs. Things get messed up sometimes, we make mistakes, then we learn better or different methods that may (or may not) work better for us and our dogs........and we get to it and fix it.
    Gezz you are talking to someone here, that made every possible mistake (except for giving him a harsh correction or using an e collar) when it came to training the pause table. I could write a book on every method and what DIDN'T work for us. Even to this day, we still have a pause table issue, I've just learned how to get around it and continue to try and improve it. That hasn't stopped me from competing, winning and Titling my dog.
    You have limited resources that can be hard and frustrating. But the upside is we here can help and would be happy too.
    There are several threads on here about contacts, read them, then we don't have to repeat all that and we can get on with other issues.
    So were would you like to start?

    Lynn
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
  10. tessa_s212

    tessa_s212 Guest

    Starting with these things would be nice. I'm sure I'd have an idea on how to train most all of these, considering I've done it countless times before, but I am more than willing to start from scratch with a very direct and strict guideline to follow to not mess up this time.
     
  11. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Ok,
    For obstacle discriminations, start easy, and don't start with a tunnel if he is a terminal tunnel sucker (hoover lol).
    Now you have to be able to reliably be able to send your dog to any piece of equipment, if you can't then you have to go back and train this, from all angles and positions for the dog and the handler. And with the handler being static (not moving forward). You also need to be able to recall your dog over or through obstacles, this is also a great time to practice those startline stays!

    Start with the tire and a jump or jump/tunnel. Set them up about 15 ft apart (the closer they become the harder the discrimination) side by side. Facing in the same direction but with one angled off slightly away from the other one. (if this doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll try to get some diagrams to you or post some diagrams)
    Start closer to one of the obstacles and about 10 -12 ft away (or closer if you have to). The goal is for your dog to take the tire without any kind of body language or movement from the handler, that they move forward and take the obstacle on a verbal only. Don't use your dogs name, just say 'tire', give huge rewards if he does it. If he has trouble understanding, put a target on the ground on the other side to encourage him. With some dogs, in the beginning, they need the handler to support the line with their body language and to give a hand signal. But each time the dog successfully does the obstacle, next time use less of a hand cue signal etc until they can do it on a verbal only. Give one verbal and only one verbal command and don't say his name with the obstacle name, you don't want to have his name as part of the cue. Don't talk (encouragement, good boys etc) to him while he is going forward to the obstacle, so many people at this point give a second command and the dog head checks, spins or comes back. The distance that you start away from the obstacle depends on your dog, some dogs need to start closer and progress to longer distances, others can start further away, you know your dog best, start at the distance you KNOW he will be successful at. Don't get greedy. When the dog can do that obstacle 3 times (and only 3 times and don't get greedy!) move closer to the other obstacle, at the same distance away and work it.
    Start the training session with this work, the dog needs to be fresh, DON'T drill. If he is successful doing each obstacle three times, QUIT. And move on to other training or just go play with him or go for a nice relaxing walk.
    The goal is for you to be able to send him to each obstacle on a verbal and at a distance and for you to be able to stand between the obstacles (with distance back from them) with your dog beside you and for him to choose the correct obstacle. After each obstacle he should come back to you, rewarded, set up for the next obstacle and sent. As he understands the game, change the obstacles. But be careful, make sure which ever obstacles that you use, that he knows that obstacle inside out, and all the required behaviours for doing that obstacle safely, like contacts or weaves.
    Then you can recall him, leave your dog in a stay, stand beyond the obstacles and between them (remember to start by being slightly closer to the obstacle that you want in the beginning for success). Give him the cue 'tire', reward. You can also recall him to you by using your recall word without him doing either obstacle, this is very valuable to train as well.
    If at anytime, he doesn't do the obstacle that you desire, move back to the point where he was successful and stay there for a couple of sessions. Then try progressing again.
    If any of this doesn't make sense or isn't perfectly clear, ask and I'll try to explain it better.
    And no matter what happens, don't get frustrated or tell him 'no', he is learning and is trying to do his best, give him every chance to get it right no matter how long it takes. Some dogs get this game very quickly while others can take weeks. Don't drill !!!! Keep sessions very short and happy, even if they are not going as you want, there is always tomorrow or the next day.
    This is a good start, when you are having success, let me know and we ll start on the other issues. Of course you can also train different focus games away from the agility equipment which wont over face him or stress him.

    Good luck
    Lynn
     
  12. tessa_s212

    tessa_s212 Guest

    What I'm going to do is probably try to video every training exercise I do with Marq that you've instructed me to do here. There's snow on the ground right now, so it might be a month or so.

    As for the tire discrimination. Marq knows the tire by "jump" just as he does the others. He doesn't know it by "tire". I'd *have* to give him a physical cue. could I instead just use other obstacles?

    And he doesn't know how to target. I tried teaching him, and he was always too nervous and fidgety to learn.
     
  13. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Targetting is a really good skill. LOL if Zo can target I am sure Marq can :D It took a long time, but she got it, and boy does she have it now. (Zo is a dog of few skills but WOW the skills she has, she HAS if you get what I mean)
     
  14. MafiaPrincess

    MafiaPrincess Obvious trollsare Obvious

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    :spam: much?
     
  15. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    lol I have spent YEARS training to avoid my dog from making his own *strategies*!! And that hasn't been easy with Petie :popcorn:
     

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