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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all! It has been a while since I have visited or been active on these forums. My superstar pup Xuri (aka the love of my life) is now 13 months old.

We have been doing lots of foundation training/ground work all throughout her puppyhood, but we are finally playing on some real equipment (albeit at lowered heights). No weaves, a-frame, or dogwalk for us yet, but we are doing lowered jumps, tunnels, and teeter. I've been working with a trainer for the past five or six weeks, taking one lesson a week, and I just tried out a new trainer who is a little closer to home, and we had a great time! Just doing private lessons for now, as it has been tricky to locate a group class to join. I'm anxious to get her into an environment with more dogs, though, so we may be joining up a class about two hours away from where we live.

I am thinking of joining a local club that would allow me the use of the equipment whenever I wanted, although none of their contacts are adjustable, and they only have competition weaves, so I'm not sure it's worth the investment yet. I do have a handful of jumps at home, but no tunnels or tire, so that alone may entice me to join up. Plus its always nice to get out and about somewhere different! If I do join, I'll probably purchase Silvia's foundation training video and work through some of those exercises.

Speaking of Silvia, I'm planning to join her running contacts course beginning mid August. Should be fun! I'm lucky enough to be working with trainers who support my crazy endeavor. If anyone is interested, I could post some of her progress videos to these forums once we start the process. Lord knows I'll already be recording and uploading a million videos for the class, anyways.

I'm interested to know how many members here are actively training or competing in agility! How many agility GSD's do we have here? And, if you don't mind me asking, what contact behavior have you taught for your teeter??
 

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I do not have my shepherd pup yet, but I have a 9 1/2 month old pup (Chinese Crested Dog) that I will be starting in agility after some basic obedience classes. The Agility team will not allow pups to begin training until they are 14 months old. I would love to hear and see your progress with your dog! Cresteds are good at agility. If it goes well, I plan to do it as well with my future shepherd. I have never done it before - have you?
 

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Oh, I think Cresteds are really neat! I knew of a few at my old kennel club that trained in agility.

I've never really done formal agility with the intent to compete. I took beginner classes around 6 years ago with two other dogs, just for fun. I really caught the bug then, although it was not a great time in my life for me to move forward with those dogs (I was graduating high school and moving away from home). I have been following the sport on and off since then, though, and have done all kinds of research and digging around looking into different methods and handling styles. I like to tell the trainers that I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous to myself.
 

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I took my boy for agilitiy training for a few private 4 week sessions - 1/2hr once a week. It was fun but his drive and build really isn't for that sport. But he LOVES the tunnel! Lol

I made a make shift tunnel when he was little with 4 trash barrels that were hanging around and a tarp. If you don't have a tarp, any sheet will do.
 

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And, if you don't mind me asking, what contact behavior have you taught for your teeter??
We started by luring when she was little.... luring her into position, two on, two off, rewarding from the hand ("Feet! Yes! Good Feet!"). This is our little practice plank, only a few inches high, it works great.



Then, after she understood the "Feet" command, we progressed to rewarding (with food) from the ground, and transitioned the behavior onto a wobble board, then onto a low teeter.
 

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We have some agility equipment my daughter has for her chihuahua. Our gsd loves agility we just do training in our backyard nothing formal he loves it. We would start to lure him with the ball but he will just plow through the tunnel ,teeter board, anything over or under then toss then I would toss ball as a reward. I had to concentrate more so slowing max down and would have him stop and stay on that cat walk and teeter so I could get some focus from him.l and he did not jump off at any one point. We had to use a leash as a pup and walk him through the equipment and point touch the ground where I wanted him to end up otherwise he would get the puppy crazies and race around like a coconut making his own agility plan. My daughter was taking private lessons with her chihuahua but I think we will be just sticking to the backyard with him for fun he enjoys it better. My daughter used the wobble board when our chihuahua paws touches she click and treated him gradually getting him on the board - he is seven so much patience and many sessions and locked away in her room so I would not interfere lol - they did it!!! The teeter is the chihuahuas biggest challenge. I did learn to put the agility equipment much closer together as it was a lot of running. For us the agility craze all started with a hola hoop- lol!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You might check out Emmco's TipAssist for teeter training, or make one yourself. Bad Dog Agility did a great podcast on this piece of equipment.
I have seen those, they are a neat piece of equipment! Would be difficult to train a 2o2o behavior with it, I would think, due to the end not reaching the ground. Unless of course you simply waited until the dog was accustomed to the teeter at full height until teaching any contact behavior. I suppose it would be easy enough to teach a 4o behavior with this equipment, though. Definitely a very useful tool if one only has access to a full height teeter. I'm about to take a listen to that podcast- thanks for the resource!

Honestly I think I'm just going to buy my own adjustable teeter base and build the plank (which I will need anyway for our running contacts).

Backpacker, are you happy with the 2o2o's? I'm debating between teaching that or a 4o contact. I think the 4o would be a little more natural for this dog, as she looooooves her downs, and already has a fantastic down-target that can be accomplished at speed. For her, the 2o2o seems a little more difficult for her to process, though I'm sure she'd be more than capable with more work on it. The issue I'm concerned about with teaching a 4o is making sure that she consistently runs all the way to the end of the plank.

The trainers I'm working with advocate simply teaching the dog a slower teeter and no stopped contact. I'm not a fan of that, except that it would be nicer on the dog's body, because of a greatly reduced teeter whip. However it would almost certainly require babysitting, and I would much rather have an independent teeter performance.
 

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Backpacker, are you happy with the 2o2o's? I'm debating between teaching that or a 4o contact. I think the 4o would be a little more natural for this dog, as she looooooves her downs, and already has a fantastic down-target that can be accomplished at speed. For her, the 2o2o seems a little more difficult for her to process, though I'm sure she'd be more than capable with more work on it. The issue I'm concerned about with teaching a 4o is making sure that she consistently runs all the way to the end of the plank.

The trainers I'm working with advocate simply teaching the dog a slower teeter and no stopped contact. I'm not a fan of that, except that it would be nicer on the dog's body, because of a greatly reduced teeter whip. However it would almost certainly require babysitting, and I would much rather have an independent teeter performance.
I like it, because once she (actually, both of my dogs) learned "FEET!" as a generalized command, it became helpful on both the teeter and the dogwalk. We practiced it on the low plank, wobble board, practice teeter, and also at home on the bottom step of our deck, until it wasn't a command specific to one piece of equipment any longer.

We need more work on precision (speed and desire to GO-GO-GO is not lacking :rolleyes: ). I have tons more to learn - so having a command that gives a predictable, controlled pause helps me handle, to be honest.
 

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Welcome! I'm in Colorado too! :) It can definitely be hard to find classes around here (at least in the Front Range area), especially for beginners. We currently have a higher demand for classes than there are trainers able/qualified to teach agility. Which is nice for us trainers, not so nice for people wanting classes!

As far as contact behavior, to be honest I've never seen a 4o performance hold up consistently, except on the teeter. Never seen it hold up on the dogwalk or a-frame. If you want a stop I'd definitely recommend a 2-on/2-off.

I've got three GSDs all with different contact behaviors. The oldest one (Ryker) has 2-on/2-off on everything. If I was still actively competing/training in agility with him, I would switch him to a running a-frame but keep the 2o2o on the dogwalk and teeter.

My current competition dog (Solstice) has all running contacts. She's always done a running a-frame and I started her with 2o2o on the dogwalk and teeter, but the short story is she's a nervous nelly that wants to always be right and the 2o2o was too much of a "I must be perfect o_o" thing for her and stopping near the judges made her nervous so the running contact keeps her moving and has helped her confidence a lot. But she's the first dog I've done a running dogwalk with (mostly with Silvia's method) and training a running dogwalk is really hard and I've screwed up a lot so we're still currently working on it. Well my very first dog (not a GSD) had "running" contacts that were the "point and hope the dog hits the yellow" type, haha.

The youngest one (Chandra) is just a 4 month old puppy so she's not doing much on the equipment yet but I have started 2o2o on a small plank. I'm still a bit undecided with her but I think my plan is running a-frame and teeter, running dogwalk for the straight exits and 2o2o for the turns or exits I need extra control. We'll see! I really like the running dogwalk but I've definitely struggled with training it with Solstice and I know I can do a good 2o2o so we'll see. Got plenty of time to think about it with her.

p.s. I do love the TipAssist for teeter training. In fact Wildo is the one who got me interested in it. :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for your two cents, everybody! Love getting feedback from people who have experience.

As far as contact behavior, to be honest I've never seen a 4o performance hold up consistently, except on the teeter. Never seen it hold up on the dogwalk or a-frame. If you want a stop I'd definitely recommend a 2-on/2-off.
I was only asking about 4o for the teeter-I'm planning to train runnings for the dogwalk and a-frame. In fact, we just signed up for Silvia's online class and are waiting for it to begin on the 17th! I picked up my plank at lowes yesterday!


I know the runnings are going to require a lot of dedication and are pretty much considered the hardest to train... but go big or go home!
 

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Oh, and I forgot to add, re: the tip-assist. After watching a few different videos of people training the teeter with this piece of equipment, I am definitely a fan. I especially like the versatility of using the tip-assist with an adjustable teeter. I think I would definitely consider using that method in the future, but its just not economical or practical for me right now.
 

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Yeah I do think the TipAssist is a better investment for someone teaching classes or using it for multiple dogs. Otherwise it's expensive to get it just for yourself, unless you can find someone local to commission one for cheaper. I like that it makes it easy to adjust the tip in very small increments.

Good luck with the running contacts! I think it's one of the most frustrating things I've ever tried but that makes it even more satisfying when it looks great. :D Taking Silvia's class should be a huge help for you!
 

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Thanks, TwoBigEars! It promises to be an interesting ride, at least :D

We had another lesson today, which will be our last Sunday lesson as that particular trainer is not going to be coming out to that field anymore. I'm learning so much about how much work I have to do on my handling skills, lol! Xuri reads my cues very well so any mistake shows up instantly... "good dog, shame about the handler," am I right?!

I really really hate standing still at any point on course, so I am working on figuring out which turns work best for us as a team that keep my feet moving and also motivate her. But at the same time I need to seriously work on slowing my mind down as we take each obstacle. It seems that every time I remember to calm down and make my cues more clear, I forget to move to the next obstacle afterwards, lol!

We did have a bit of a revelation about blinds today. I've done a fair bit of foundation groundwork with blinds but haven't incorporated them in sequences much. Truthfully, I never really think to do them because when I first took agility classes back in the day, that was when everyone was of the mind to NEVER EVER take your eyes off the dog, and blinds were therefore the work of the devil. We did a few in sequences today, however, and they really work for us as a team. I am still most comfortable with rears but I need to be more aware that other options (perhaps better options) do exist. Fronts are NOT my friend at the moment... darn dog is so fast I get flustered with my footwork. I nearly plowed into a jump and ended up falling down trying to execute one particular front cross today- whoops! Glad my dog is willing to keep playing through all of my mistakes.

We did have one moment of brilliance today when I was discussing options for a particular serpentine sequence with my trainer. She was recommending I incorporate those blind crosses, and I thought, "hey, I think we could fit a ketschker in here." And it worked out BRILLIANTLY. Definitely going to keep an open mind to fit those in when appropriate.

We also did the chute for the first time today. Trainer held it open for the first three successions, and it was free-sailing from there. I love this dog.

On tuesday we join a group class 2 hours away. We are starting at intermediate level (skipping the beginner class of leading the dog through the obstacles on leash). I know she is 100% ready as far as the obstacles go-although we will have to be creative about avoiding contacts for now-however I am a little nervous about getting her in a group environment. Which is incidentally exactly why I WANT her in that group environment. She hasn't had much exposure to OTHER dogs doing agility, and I have a feeling that she will find it very stimulating. It's also been a while since she has been in a group class situation and I just hope we will not make fools of ourselves. I would hate to show up and have an over-excited, reactive dog. I think I've done all I can to prep her, but I do have that fear in the back of my mind. I will certainly be bringing multiple bags of pepperoni, and an arsenal of balls and other toys.

Don't mind my long-windedness. Hopefully at least someone will get some entertainment from reading of our progress. Meanwhile, I think it will be neat to have a record of our training.
 

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Hate to double post, but just wanted to give an update.

We went to the group class today. I was apparently worried over nothing, as she behaved very well. Only one quick bout of barking at one dog, which was shut down very quickly with a simple correction and being put straight to work (sits, downs, heels, etc). In fact, by the end of the class, we were getting compliments on how nice her temperament is! AND a dog got loose while we were sequencing and walked into Xuri's path... and Xuri completely ignored it!! Good girl :D

The class is waaaaaay below our skill level, but I still feel that it is very important for her to be around other dogs running. We shall see how it progresses. One thing I was a bit frustrated with was the fact that we ran an identical sequence (that we performed well on the first try) three or four times. Looking back, I realized I should have at least changed up my handling and tried a different cross to try to spice things up, instead of handling it the same way every time-live and learn! Will definitely be doing that next class.

On a side note, we did some impulse control training last night, in preparation for the class setting. I took her out to the dog park (which is really just an open field where people walk their dogs), and had her sit, down, or heel whenever we passed another dog. I was shoveling a lot of hot dogs into her face to keep her attention, lmao! Funny how everyone else was asking if she was dog friendly. Guess they just see me "restraining" a GSD when they walk by and assume she is dangerous. Although we WERE off leash so to me that would indicate a dog being well-trained, not ill-mannered. But hey, everyone is always scared of my big bad GSD anyway ;)
 
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