Another great article by Brad Carlson about agility (and mostly Border Collies :). Here, some of the pure athletic ability of Border Collies is emphasized, as well as their innate suitability for agility performance. Enjoy.
Ohhh watch that border collie weave through those poles at full speed without missing an entry. Just like an Olympic slalom skier weaving around the sticks. Ohhh watch that border collie fly thru the jumps without knocking over bars, or how about perfect contacts on A-frame, dogwalk, and teeter. Aren’t they the most incredible animals on earth, huh? You must have seen them on Animal Planets channel, or Great Outdoors games in ESPN. Its amazing how easy it looks for the border collies to breeze through all the dog agility equipment and obstacles on course. Hey now, its time to wake up, look at your dog. You think “Hmmmm, if that border collie can do it, I think my dog can do it too”. Whoa, hold your horses! Get this, every dog is different. Dogs have different reasons for enjoying agility. Some like the reward either for the food or toy, or some dogs just want to run and jump. Remember this, border collies, most of them anyway, are made for agility, the speed, circular courses and quick turns fire them up. A labrador retriever is made for hunting and retreiving ducks and birds, working in linear patterns, and coming back to you. These are good skills to have in agility. Know your breed strengths and utilize these in training agility. Any dog can do agility, but some dogs, for instance, a basset hound will never do what a border collie can do. Get this? Lets move on to the next paragraph on size of the dog.
There’s a saying that a small size border collie will perform better on the agility course than a medium or big size border collie. Size determines which height catagory your dog is placed in, but does not indicate level of performance. Lets not forget it goes back to the trainer or handler. The question you need to ask is how much training will it take for my dog to go through the weave poles, make contacts, or run the way I want it to.
Some will say that training weaves is the hardest obstacle to teach, others will say giving commands, yet others the contacts. No matter where you and your dog start first, you as the trainer and handler will need to set a goal. Keep training fun, short, and simple. One simple method of training your dog is to reward with food or toy. Every dog has a desire to please you to some degree, but not every dog understands what you expect. If your dog is driven by food, reward it with a small treat after a short exercise, continue after every task. If your dog is driven by toy such as ball or frisbee, use it as a reward also.
You might think getting start in the agility sport is expensive. As the cost of raw materials goes up, so does the equipment. One way to cut down on cost, is to join an agility club. However, it costs to join also. Others might prefer to purchase a few pieces of dog agility equipment at a time for their own backyard training. Still others might want to purchase equipment for day care, just set up as doggie playground. Regardless, it costs money. You will need to ask yourself, do I want to invest in money and time? Or do I want to do it just to have fun, as a hobby? Will my doglike to run and jump?
Every trainer has a different philosophy and approach to agility training equipment, which is hardest and which is easiest, which takes the longest and which takes the shortest to learn. Every dog is different, has a different desire and perspective to agility. It does not matter how small or big your dog is, its how much you and your dog enjoy the training and playing. And to top it off, start with an exciting and positive attidude and have lots of fun.
About Author: Brad Carlson is a dog trainer at Agility by Carlson. For more training details, visit our website at http://www.carlson-agility.com/