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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I’m interested in starting agility with my 3 year old. We need to get through an obedience course at the training venue before we are allowed into an agility course. What skills and commands do you feel that dogs need to know before starting an agility course? We’re trying to get a jump start as the obedience course doesn’t start for another month. Thank you!
 

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off lead recall

will pay attention to you around other dogs

has interest in a toy, favourite toy, -- you can teach this (I did with mine)

will move away from you, aka "go outs" , obedience dogs can be too sticky, work on go to mat, go to target, and go games, (where you say go
dog starts moving away from you, throw toy

comfortable engaging with, stepping on unstable surfaces, put a plank on a pebble in your driveway, click & treat every interaction, exchange pebble for something bigger, reward bangs

if you know how, encourage your dog to move with you at a distance, toy tossing or treat tossing helps

reward your dog for stopping at the bottom of steps with his hindend still on the last step (helps with A-frame)

play running games with your dog, change direction, have fun

mostly, have fun

enjoy!
 

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The pre-agility obedience test at the club we train at is -

Sit/Stay, handler walks away, pauses facing dog, returns to dog.

Down/Stay, handler walks away, turns back to the dog, waits briefly, returns to dog.

Recall to handler from across the agility building with "mild" distraction - other dogs on leash around the perimeter of the building, a few toys laying around. It does not to be a formal front/finish, but the recall has to be clear and fast.

On leash walk past other dogs on both sides of handler. Doesn't have to be a formal heel, but the leash can't be tight, and the dog can't lunge or bark or demonstrate any aggressive behavior at all. No treats or toy lures allowed.

The instructor who administered my exam (before we started agility) also asked me to demonstrate an off-leash heel past other dogs, which is a prerequisite for starting to run courses/sequences. That part wasn't necessary to enter the foundation class and learn obstacle performance, but it was required before you could start running sequences/Novice. I did not train this dog a formal focused heel command, but she will walk next to me on the left side with a "Close" command - that was more than sufficient for this club.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Do intro courses typically have an off lead portion? I assumed an intro course would be on lead. He already is familiar with a “go” command from the go around at conformation shows. Hopefully it won’t be too difficult to assign a new meaning to this command. Looks like we have some work to do, thanks guys!
 

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Do intro courses typically have an off lead portion? I assumed an intro course would be on lead. He already is familiar with a “go” command from the go around at conformation shows. Hopefully it won’t be too difficult to assign a new meaning to this command. Looks like we have some work to do, thanks guys!
I think they're all a little bit different. I ran my first GSD at two places, one of them started foundation on leash, the other didn't allow leashes but mandated small tabs (like this: https://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm/product/1344/dog-agility-leash-tab.htm )

The club I'm training my current dog at allows you to have your dog leashed between runs, but the dogs always run off-leash. They allow small tabs but try to wean people off of them really quickly.

I wouldn't worry too much about word choice, people use all different things. I've picked different words for some things because I don't want to screw up commands that I use for other types of training. I hope you enjoy it, I think agility is a lot of fun. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I spoke with the instructor and there are less requirements than I would have thought. Looks like we just need to have a sit stay, recall and ability to work off lead. I’m a little nervous to gauge his readiness to work off lead because he’s never been in an off lead situation like that since puppy socializing classes. The other skills he has already. He was trained to sit in front of me at the end of a recall, I hope that won’t be problematic in agility.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I am very upset today we were out and about doing some obedience training to prep for the agility class. I had my dog on lead, when an off leash dog ran over to us and caused a dog fight :( I’m glad my dog isn’t injured but I still feel like this is a huge set back. I’m now worried about how he might be with other dogs off lead in an agility class setting.
 

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Bleh.... sorry you ran into this situation.

One important (positive!) thing to keep firmly in mind is that most dogs running agility have "drive" for the course itself - the strong desire to work with their handler, plus whatever reward is used.

It has been my experience that the more experienced dogs in our agility classes don't give a hoot about us. They only want the course, the obstacles, their handler, the reward.

Eyes on the prize. Set today aside. Keep prepping.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you we’re going to continue to prep. Since maturity he has never liked male dogs and is tolerant with certain females (typically friends GSDs). This has been easily managed and never been a problem in other settings such as dog shows and training classes where everybody is on lead. Luckily at these type of settings everybody had control of their dog and wouldn’t let their dog run up to another.
 
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