I am a little concered that you are doing agility with your dog at 8 months...hopefully it's just very low things that don't involving jumping?
Low impact only for my pup until his plates close! The jumps we do are 3-6 inches off the ground, just enough for him to know they are there.
I guess it really depends on one's definition of positive. If by it one means never giving the dog any sort of negative experience, then no I do not believe this is possible.
As far as an 8 month old puppy, I certainly don't expect a pup of that age to be fully trained or reliable in every situation because to be such requires not just training experience but mental maturity. And the only thing that brings mental maturity is age, which an 8 month old just doesn't have.
Wow thank you for all of the great responses!
My idea of positive is to use as little verbal/equipment correction as possible to get the behavior I want. That varies between dogs of course, and varies due to age. I do NOT consider starving a dog, or any other tactic as positive. Yes, I withhold a meal if I am going to be training, but I do not consider employing extreme tactics a form of positive training.
I want my dog trained in an every day scenario that doesn't rely on withholding things or obsessively controlling.
I have a solid foundation of obedience in my opinion, heel (with turns on loose lead), sit, stand, stay (down/sit 1-2 minute), and recall. He is very sloppy with the recall, slow to sit and down, and always backs up on a sit where his nose will be at my back pocket. But I am chalking that up to experience.
If I see he knows and understands the commands, I figure I can perfect them later down the road, right?
He is in the process of getting used to the prong collar, he has about 3 days of work on it, and I find it an effective tool, but the corrections I deliver, if any are more of a 'tap' to remind him of what we are doing. My corrections are not used as a form of punishment, where as the lab puppy the instructor corrected was harsh and not needed.
At this point, I am in the process of looking for a new class that focuses on positive styles, and understands that I have a puppy. I don't want to stifle him by not allowing him to be a kid.