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5) Agility for Starters
Agility is the fastest growing dog sport and is undoubtedly tremendous fun for both dog and handler! To get to the top takes a huge amount of time, effort and training, so where do you begin if you are thinking about taking up this fast and furious sport with your four legged friend?
In this book, Connie Sellers, grade 7 international handler who specialises in training novice competitors, shows us everything you need to know to get started in agility. Whether you are completely new to the sport, or training a young dog, Sellers provides us with 101 exercises that take us through all aspects of the sport, including; weaves, contacts, handling points, start line waits, wing wraps and more. Many of the exercises require little or no equipment, meaning you can work through them on your own at home. Also featuring top training tips and advice from a host of world famous trainers, including; Greg Derrett, Silvia Trkman, Denise Fenzi, Susan Garrett, Dave Munnings and more, this is the foundation guide to agility that you cannot be without!
Sellers begins by looking at what is agility, and the kinds of dogs and people it is best suited to, discussing what makes an ideal agility dog.
In chapter two, Before you Start, Sellers takes us through choosing a reward, giving advice on finding a toy your dog likes, as well as using food treats. There is also a training tip from Greg Derrett on reward structure.
Chapter three introduces us to the triology of learning. These are three stages of learning that can be used in a variety of training situations. Sellers takes us through how to teach these stages, and then how we can use them to introduce the tunnel.
Chapter four moves on to forward focus. Sellers explains that in agility it is preferential that the dog runs ahead of the handler, showing us some exercises which will help to achieve this.
In chapter five, Sellers shows us how to teach left and right directional cues, before moving on to chapter six, which focuses on putting together a sequence of jumps and a tunnel.
Chapter seven progresses to teaching your dog how to successfully negotiate a fan of jumps, which shows your dog how to check his stride and turn.
Chapter eight focuses on teaching a wait for the start line, this differs from your basic obedience wait as the dog must learn to be 100% reliable. There is also a trainer’s tip from Dave Munnings about our expectations and relationship with our dog while training.
In chapter nine, Sellers shows us how to collaborate what we have taught the dog so far into a sequence. This consists of a fan of jumps to a tunnel.
Chapters ten and eleven concentrate on introducing the long jump and tyre. There is another trainer’s tip, this time from Lee Gibson, who provides us with some advice on considering the different paths that dog and handler take when running a course.
Chapter twelve teaches us how to negotiate collapsible tunnels.
In chapter thirteen, Sellers shows us how to teach the dog to walk backwards. This helps to co-ordinate and engage the rear end, and also strengthens and builds muscle memory which is important in later training. Denise Fenzi then provides us with a training tip focused around fun.
Chapter fourteen looks at foundation work for contacts. Sellers teaches us how to get the dog touching a contact disc, and stopping in a 2 on 2 off position.
In chapters fifteen and sixteen we continue with the next phases of tackling the dog walk and A-frame.
Chapter seventeen moves on to the seesaw, explaining how to begin introducing this piece of equipment with a wobble board.
Chapter eighteen shows us how to phase out the touch disc for contacts.
In chapter nineteen Sellers addresses the weaves. She explains that whilst running, jumping and balancing all come naturally to a dog, the weaves do not, and therefore must be carefully trained. Susan Garret also provides us with a trainers tip on her world famous weave method.
Chapter twenty focuses on wing wraps. Here we teach the dog to wrap around a jump wing encouraging the dog to check his stride and turn as tightly as possible. This chapter also includes a trainer’s tip from Silvia Trkman on wing wraps.
Chapter twenty one looks at handling manoeuvres such as front and rear crosses, as well as a trainer’s tip on motivation from Rosie Cavill.
Finally, in chapter twenty two Sellers covers everything you need for your first competition, including how you know you are ready to compete, what you will need, rules and regulations, and tips on walking the course.
A clear comprehensive guide that provides an excellent foundation to introduce both dog and handler to the hugely exciting world of agility.
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