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Not purely – motivational agility training:

Just some insight on how non-motivational dog training for agility is conducted.

Here, we require that the dog have to first pass the basic and then advanced obedience training as first criteria.

The second criteria is that the dog has to be built for agility – in other words he has to conform to certain aspects, like height, age, weight and be of good health. This implies that no dog smaller than the average size German Sheppard will be allowed to do the course. Then the dog must be an athletically built – slim and trim - and preferable still be a young dog with a lot of energy – and be fit, we don’t want big strong dogs on the course, they just get them selves hurt.

The dog is first tested to see if he has enough speed – this is done on a send-away – to see if the dogs natural foot work: be it at a quick walk, a trot or at a run, if I can put it in Horse terms. The motivation for this is that the agility competition is gauged in part on speed and both in part on agility, so its no good to have a dog that is slow, but very agile. You require both to win.

The third aspect is; willingness or temperament, everyone can run, but not all of us make good athletes. The same applies with agility dogs. Not all of them like it – they have to like it to be competitive. We gauge them at a kids playground, where we send the dog to jump on toys, over pipes, crawl through them, and fetch a ball. This sounds simple. I assure you it is not, very few dogs will do it all, and still “want more.” Secondly, it is done with the end-product in mind. We need a strong drive, and a willingness to play, to put it in simple terms.

The ball? - The dog cashing after the ball is to get the speed up, later on in training, we will throw the ball as the dog clears the obstacle.
– We train one obstacle at a time, until he does it well before we introduce the next one, and so forth - to get him use to accelerating after an obstacle – imprint it - acceleration / and technique all in the same instant. You will never get the dog faster, if he is not sure of his technique. Eventually the dog only gets the ball when he has completed the whole exercise, and done it well.
– We check for balance – in the playground, we make sure the dog has good balance, and is not afraid of heights – if he is, he will hesitate, costing valuable time.

Then, when we think he is good enough, we work him in three phases, during training:

The first aspect is the approach, and control, the dog must wait for the “go” command, this cost points if the dog goes into the exercise without an command.

The second is the technique – we make sure that we use the same material as what is prescribed for competition use – then we start off – slow-slow –fast-fast, until the dog gets the exercise and his footing settled on the apparatus. The technique slow slow – involves walking the dog through the exercise, and having all the apparatus scaled down – the A frame for instance will be set a height of one foot, and so we work it up to the required height. – TIP: Cut the toenails, and dew claws – before going to agility.

The third aspect is rounding off: this is the make or brake phase – some agility disciplines does not require this anymore -, they have done away with this. Here it is still in place. The dog must come to a heel, facing the handler and then jump place, only then is the exercise completed and the time stops.

Well, that in a nutshell is the philosophy – the training revolves around, guiding the dog, in other words walking and then running him on lead through the obstacle course. – How do you do it with the low bed – well the handler gets the dog to stand, and then walks around the low-bed, and call him, in the beginning we put up blinds, so that the dog cannot go around or jump onto the low bad. Alternatively, we place the dog in a down just under the low bed and recall him on the other side – many tricks.

The point is this, he gets no reward, until such time that he gets the exercise right, and then we introduce the ball. It is all praise, guiding, and correction – via voice, that does the trick –MAINLY. At times, it will however be necessary to get the lead to work him, or a puppy line.

I hope this give a good idea and puts some light on what is involved here with Koehler and derivative training for agility.
:wink:
 
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