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Dog Agility Training & Competition

Getting Ready for Training:

If you have been seriously considering signing your dog up for agility training, then you should take the proper steps to prepare your k9 companion for what lies in store for them. Now what is dog agility you might ask? It’s a great sport that involves you and your dog, using teamwork towards a common goal. Not only is it quite entertaining to watch, it can be very addictive for the owner and dog alike, once both of you get the hang of it.

Now lets go through how it all works. The Handler directs their dog through an obstacle course of a-frames, weave poles, dog walks, tunnels, jumps, teeter totters, and chutes, in a race for accuracy and over all time.

You can’t however touch your dog or any of the obstacles that’s against the rules. There is also no use of a leash. You can only use visual and audible cues to direct your dog through the course.

Next you should factor in some tips about how to prepare your dog. This will be physical, Show your dog what it will be engaging in throughout any of the serious training. Also, what it will experience later on if you wanted to go into competitions. Ultimately if your paying for training, your instructor will always know when your dog is ready for competition. So, don’t rush towards that too quickly. Ensure your dog is fully trained and is in peak condition.

Getting Ready for Competition:

Obviously your dog needs to be fit, considerably attentive and don’t forget excited to give this their all. It’s also important that they’re jumping confidently to there full height. Unless of course you aren’t aiming for a specific size class for your dog to eventually compete in. Which means over sized obstacles, so the dogs can fit through and between them without knocking them down. Unless you are sure the competitions won’t included weaves. Then just be sure the dog is focused on your commands and excited to be there.

Your dog will also be required to complete full sequences of obstacles pretty fluently. So, remember to be fair to your dog these competitions are a measure of there competence in the sport. Don’t force them to compete prematurely, make sure they’re well prepared for what’s expected of them.

In Closing, it’s important to remember to have fun while doing this. If your not having fun, your dog will sense your tension. This can cause your dog to start acting up, and not following your directions correctly. Always remain calm, content, and over all remember to have fun.

Tips for Avoiding Common Dog Training Mistakes: (Part 2)

Allowing your dog to beg is a common training mistake. A dog that has never received food from you when you are eating at the table will no longer continue to beg. He might try it once or twice early on in your relationship. With consistent “no’s” and “go lay down” commands will quickly discourage him from further attempts. However, if you give in, even just once and give him a piece of you are eating, he’ll know that begging worked. Therefore, with common sense, your dog will gain the idea that what works once, will eventually work again.

Inconsistency may seem like such a small thing, but it may leave you destined to fail. Constantly measured attention is absolutely essential when training your dog. Deviate away from any routine you may have built up will almost always undo all that hard work you have done previous.

Calling your dog for punishment will not get you anywhere. Let us focus on why it’s not good to call your dog to your side in order to get mad at him. Nobody wants to go over to someone when they know they are going to get in trouble. This is even true with adults, children, and especially a dog. People know you’re not likely to forget your anger, but a dog is hopeful, and will try everything to avoid you if he knows you’re angry. In your dogs mind, every time you call him to you in order to do something unpleasant, you are punishing him for returning to you. So, if your dog is in trouble, or you have to do something he won’t like, go and get him, instead of calling him.

Rewarding the wrong behavior will happen to all of us at some point or another. This is one of the most common mistakes made when dog training. You may not even think of it as necessarily rewarding your dog. You may see it as a method of comforting him when he’s frightened, or perhaps letting him in when he barks, or even giving him a stern talking to when ever he misbehaves. Attention of any kind when a dog misbehaves is a signal to the dog. The dog may interpret this attention as this works, it’s not quite what I was looking for, but it’s still some kind of attention.” Even negative attention may seem better than none at all.

Teach your dog to Stand, Rollover, Crawl, Lay Down and Focus:

Teach your dog to Stand:
Starting from the sitting position, hold a treat right in front of the nose of your dog, then say stand. Then move the treat above him so that he will have to stand in order to reach it. As soon as he stands say good boy! Then wait for him to sit back down to give him the treat. While he is standing you can move just a few steps while holding the treat. Praise him a lot if he follows you.

Teach your dog to Rollover:
Starting from the laying position, say roll over and then proceed to roll your dog over gently. Do this by grabbing his legs and then pull him, or simply push him from one side so that he makes a complete roll. After he has completed the roll, make him sit, praise him and give him the treat.

Teach your dog to Crawl:
Starting from the laying position, say crawl while holding a treat in front of your dog’s nose and move it a few inches away from him. If he begins to stand up, just say no crawl, start from the beginning and have him lay back down again. Praise him a lot and give him the treat as soon as he crawls, even if it’s only a few inches.

Teach your dog to Lay Down:
There are various ways to do this. Begin with having your dog sit then say, lay. Then present the treat in front of his mouth, going all the way down to the ground with your hand. The dog will naturally follow your hand and will end up lying down. Give him the treat only when he stretches his forearms in front of him and then praise.

Teach your dog to Focus:
Begin by sitting or kneeling, in front of your dog. Hide your hands so he won’t be distracted looking at them and then say your dog’s name followed by saying focus. As soon as he looks at you in the eyes start praising him. Always keep eye contact and after a few seconds give him a treat. If he looks elsewhere, just call him again and begin to start over. Try to extend the time while he’s focused on you.

The Sport of Dog Agility

Dog Agility is an international sport. Direct your dog through an obstacle course in a race against the clock to measure accuracy and completion. Neither the dog nor obstacles can be touched by the handler. Consequently the handler’s controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

The History of the Sport:

The sport’s roots can be traced back to the late 1970’s to a demonstration that was held at Crufts Dog Show in the United Kingdom. Dogs were required to run around a course designed similar to horse jumping courses during intermission as a way to entertain the audience. It has since spread rapidly around the world.

What is an Agility Course?

Agility courses consist of several standard obstacles laid out by a judge. All obstacles are staged by the judge in a specifically sized area. The surface may consist of grass, dirt, or a rubber like material. Depending on the type of competition, the obstacles may have a different order in which they must be completed.

Expectations of the Dog Handler:

In the beginning, courses can be a rather complicated task for your dog. For the dog to correctly complete a course without the direction and training of a handler, just aint gunna happen. In competitions, the dog handler must first observe the course, decide on the best strategies, and direct their dog. Precision and speed are equally important.

What are the Basic Obstacles of a Course?

An A-frame is 2 broad ramps hinged together and raised so that the hinged connection is above the ground, roughly forming an A shape.

The Dog walk is 3 planks that connect at the ends. The center plank is raised to above the ground; so that the other 2 end planks form ramps that lead up and down.

A Teeter-totter is a single plank that pivots on a fulcrum, much like the traditional seesaw. It is constructed off-balance so that the same end is always on the ground.

The Crossover is a square platform, with ramps that descend from 3 or 4 of its sides. The dog must ascend and descend the correct ramp while changing direction.

A Tunnel is a long vinyl tube, through which the dog runs. The tunnel is constructed of flexible vinyl and wire so that it can be set in a straight line or curvy.

The Different Competition Classes in Agility

Competition Classes in Agility:

Courses are designed by their own judges. They can also select from previously designed courses by using the rules of whom ever the funding organization. The course is laid out within a large area, with necessary distances between obstacles. Each class decides which dogs are worthy adversaries of achieving titles and how each task must be performed, but they all posses multiple similarities.

What are some common classes?

Junior courses are designed for the 18 and under crowd. These younger  dog handlers may compete with their k9’s at beginner, elementary, intermediate, and senior levels. Each section has more obstacles and generally gets harder the more you progress.

Standard and Regular courses are both numbered. They consist of at least one of three primary obstacles include jumps, tunnels, and several weave poles. A more advanced dog course might consist of as many as 22 obstacles. A more minimal course might offer only about 15. The dog must properly navigate the obstacles. This must be achieved in the correct order within the standard course time.

Jumpers or Jumping course is numbered. This consists primarily of various types of challenging jumps, weave poles, and tunnels. The dog must navigate the obstacles in the correct order within the standard time of the course. Most dogs will achieve their fastest speeds on this course because there are no contact obstacles in the way to slow them down.

Gambles, Joker, and Jackpot courses are all unnumbered. In the opening period, the dog has only so much time in which to conquer appropriate tasks. The points awarded are based on the obstacles that have been completed. A whistle is blown when time runs out for the opening period. That’s when the gamble begins. There’s approximately 15 seconds to complete the tasks and obstacles.

Power courses are not timed. This game features the contact equipment, weaves, table, a-frame, spread jump, and the long jump. If this section is navigated without receiving a penalty, the dog and handler are then allowed to advance to the Speed course, which consists of a timed jumping section.

In the end, of any competition course, the dogs and their handlers that have competed have earned either a rosette or a bronze, silver, or gold medal. With many available sets of obstacles and plenty of room for error, there are many classes of competitions that can be played on the fields of agility.

How to Teach Your Dog to Play Fetch?

Fetch is a game we take for granted. Yet fetch is the most perfect of all dog games. It’s easy to learn. It’s easy to do. Fetch is great exercise for your dog (even exercise for you, if you walk or jog to a park to play). Most important, fetch is all about give and take (quite literally); you and your pup are working in tandem.

You know the drill: You throw the ball, your dog brings it back. You throw the ball, your dog brings it back. You throw the ball… But what do you do when your dog seems completely unfamiliar with the game of fetch, when all those other dogs seem to know instinctively how to play?

Although some breeds do have a natural instinct to play fetch—especially retrievers bred through the ages to fetch things, and herding dogs who have a sharp eye for objects wandering away from the flock—not every dog comes pre-programmed with this behavior. Why, some dogs seem to be thinking, would you throw something across the yard just so I have to run all the way over there and get it? And if I do, will you promise not to do that again?

But playing fetch can be fun for you and training your dog. It’s also a great way for dogs to get their important daily dose of exercise.

Assess your dog’s Fetch I.Q.

Find a toy he really likes. Wave it in front of his face to get his interest. Toss it a few feet away and say, “Fetch!”  What does he do?

If he runs to the toy, picks it up, and brings it back, congratulations. Your dog knows how to fetch. Go play!

If your dog doesn’t seem to have any fetch instinct, the first step is to teach him that he’ll be rewarded for paying attention to the object you want him to fetch. (For this guide, we’ll say you’re teaching him with a ball. It may be another toy or a retrieving dummy.) Stock up on your dog’s favorite treats. Hold the ball out to your dog. If he sniffs it, praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this several times. Then, put the ball on the floor and say “Fetch.”  If your dog sniffs it or picks it up, praise him and give him a treat. Keep practicing until he understands that he has to sniff or pick up the ball to get the treat.

Now it’s time to teach your dog to pick up the ball. Wave the ball around in the air to make it more enticing. As soon as he takes it in his mouth, praise him. If he won’t take the ball, try smearing it with a little peanut butter or meat paste. When he reliably takes the ball in his mouth.

Now, you need to motivate your dog to give back the ball. Get your dog to take the ball. Praise him, then offer a treat. He’ll have to drop the ball to get the treat, so be sure you are there to take it. Praise him. Practice this a few times. When he reliably takes the toy then drops it for the treat.
If your dog isn’t very interested in treats, you can also use two balls and entice him to drop one ball for the other.

Now you are ready to try a small-scale fetch. Show your dog the ball. Toss the ball a few feet away from you and say “Fetch!” If he doesn’t go to the ball, try throwing it closer, or handing it to him again. When he does go to the ball, call him back to you, treat in hand, and trade treat for toy. Repeat, throwing the ball a little bit farther each time. Before you know it, you and your dog are playing fetch…just like all those other dogs!

Every dog is different, motivated by different things and tempted by different variations of the game, but for many dogs, there will be a point during this dog training exercise when they suddenly understand what playing fetch is all about. At this point, the game is its own reward and you can save the treats for teaching your dog the rules for the next fun game.

Bulldogs

Bulldogs of all breeds are known for their adorable features, but what’s underneath all those wrinkles?  The characteristics of a bulldog can be a big factor in considering if the breed is right for you and your family, and can make all the difference in your relationship with your dog.

Temperament

Despite the slightly intimidating look that some bulldogs have (such as the English bulldog),they are actually very well tempered dogs.  Bulldogs rank very highly in dog socialization skills,  and are known to continually act like puppies, even in their elderly years.  Bulldogs are easily well-behaved family dogs, and do very well around children.  Most of the dogs in this breed are lovable attention-seeking dogs that need constant interaction with people, and they are especially good for families of four or more.  However, bulldogs often become attached to one owner just as many other dogs do.

Obedience

Bulldogs are infamous for being stubborn, but this is only because they are often improperly taught.  Bulldogs respond best to positive enforcement rather than punishment.  Constant rewards for good acts, and light punishment for wrongdoings will straighten out a bulldog much faster than negative treatment will.  Bulldog training is not a fast process.  Bulldogs take constant reinforcement to good treatment to form a habit, and generally take longer to train than other dogs.  Thusly, it is best to begin dog obedience classes when it becomes a family member.

Health Issues

Bulldogs, no matter how adorable, have a large variety of possible health problems.  Dog care is something that you have to be very willing to see as a regularity if you get a bulldog, because they can be very needy. Some of these problems include allergies, dermatitis, eye lid anomalies, hip dysplasia and heart problems.  The most common issue with bulldogs however is their low tolerance to heat.  Bulldogs can not be left outside in hot weather ever, and are almost permanently inside dogs.  For many people, all this means is that a doggie door is necessary, but for others it means that they will be responsible for taking their dogs in and out of the house.  This is very important to consider if you are thinking of adopting a bulldog.

For more information on bulldogs and dog adoption, contact our Florida Dog Training center or ask your local dog trainers.

Teaching Your dog to swim #2

For those of you who need more than just wading your dog into water to get them to swim, you require more help in the process.  These additional dog training tips should help you with teaching your dog to swim.

Help

Have a friend come over with a dog that swims and take the dog into the pool.  This will show your dog that other dogs swim and that it’s fun! Learning from watching others is common in dogs, and the experience of others usually gives them confidence to try something themselves.

More!!!

Try going deeper and deeper into a gradually declining pool, offering them treats as you go.  Go back about one foot every time they accept the treat, and increase the number of treats they get for going deeper into the pool.  This process may not happen all at once, but try it a few times a week if they seem uncomfortable at first.  once they get far enough to the point where they have to swim, significantly up the treat number.  Temptation should dominate fear when treats are in the picture!

Last Steps

Try putting your hands under your dogs stomach and pulling him in the pool deeper.  Move them slowly, but show them that they are safe.  Don’t let them squirm away when you get too deep because then they are forced to swim.  When they are deep enough to swim stay there for a few seconds. If your dog is uncomfortable doing this, repeat the process every other day until they are comfortable in water.  When you get to the deepest part of the pool, see if they are comfortable having you let go.  When you think they’re ready to swim, slowly let go.  You’re dog should be able to handle it from here, but follow them to make sure they’re okay.  You may want to wear goggles because lots of dogs are big splashers!

Contact our Florida dog training center with any questions.

Teaching Your dog how to swim

It’s safe to say that many dogs learn how to swim in a way that is natural and automatic. However, others may need some help getting there.  For those who need some help training your dog to swim, here are some dog training tips to help you teach your furry friend to dog paddle!

Familiarity

Dogs often find pools to be a foreign concept, and what they aren’t used to can scare them away.  Therefore, if you’re going to teach your dog how to swim, you want to have them near you while you’re swimming.  Seeing you in the pool will show them that it’s not a dangerous or scary thing, and will help them progress in their learning.

Beginning

When you’re first teaching your dog to swim, it should be in a gradually declining pool.  Start with them at the shallowest part of the pool and just let them dip their feet in.  Don’t try suspending your dog above the pool and letting them frantically paddle, because as funny as it may be to us, it’s horrifying to them and can scare them away.  put a leash on your dog and make sure to have plenty of treats with you when you begin the process.  First you want to gently walk your dog into the water.  After you’ve gone a little ways in, feed them treats and show them you love them with lots of pets and praises!  if they are comfortable doing this, grab a toy they love and try tossing it a little farther every time you throw it in the pool.  They will gradually become adapted to this and see it as a game, and they should be comfortable swimming in the pool after this.

If you are still having trouble getting your dog to swim, leave a message below or contact us at out Florida dog training center.  An additional blog on teaching your dog to swim can be found on this site also.  Come with any questions or comments, love your dog!

Misconceptions About Small Dogs

Small dogs have been put under many stereotypes due to their size, and many of us have wrongly judged small dogs based on these untrue judgments. Thus we are here to clarify some myths regarding dog training, socialization, needs, and energy regarding small dogs.

Exercise

Many people believe that small dogs do not need as much daily activity as bigger dogs due to their size.  This however is not true.  Some smaller dogs such as Jack Russel Terriers are extremely energetic, and require equal, or even more exercise than larger dogs.

Training

It is a well known thought that small dogs do not require training because they are believed to generally be lap dogs.  All dogs should (at the very least) learn their everyday commands such as sit, stay, etc.  Small dogs are actually dodgier than bigger dogs because they can run through the door when you open it a little and fit in small places.  Dog training is necessary for every type and size of dog, but small dogs especially need to be taught not to run, jump, and bark.

Barking

Many people believe that small dogs bark because they are bred in a way that makes them loony by birth.  I wont disagree with the fact than many small dogs are prone to excessive barking, but they do not bark for the believed reasons.  Many small dogs bark because they recognize their small size and prefer to feel big by making constant noise.  Many small dogs are also constant barkers because they were bred to be alarm dogs.  Small dogs are great with warnings, but generally bad with defense.

Children

Couples tend to get smaller dogs when starting a family because they believer smaller dogs will be easier for the children to handle, and will better deal with kids because of their small size.  This misconception is particularly bad because small dogs tend to be jumpers.  When we say they are jumpers, we mean that they leap on friends and family when they enter a house, and bigger dogs know that the baby is smaller than them, and will not hurt the baby because they are afraid.  Small dogs however realize the equality in height and tend to jump because they don’t know better if you haven’t taught them, therefore dog obedience is very important if you are considering getting a small dog.  Remember that if you have a child, supervise your dog around them at all times.

To learn more about small dogs leave a message below or contact our Florida dog training center. Love your dog!