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Thatís what I like about agility: training for details, discovering new way of training details. I donít like competing too much, but itís too easy to be perfect in training, so I need to compete to get new challenges. What Iím looking for in competition is nice, fluid, fast and happy run. About the placement: I couldnít care less. I have had enough placements that I donít need any more. And when people ask ďgosh, how does it feel to stand on a podium on WC?Ē, all I can say is: boring. I would very much prefer to spend that time running my dogs as to stand there and smile. Itís a thrill to run on WC, thatís true, but to stand on a podiumÖ How could something like that be anything else but boring??? And when people ask ďgosh, how many cups do you have at home?Ē, I have to admit I have none. Not even one single cup, not even those from WC. Why would I have them? Iím really not proud of my results. Iím only proud of my dogs, I think theyíre the smartest, cutest and funniest dogs in the world and I make sure they know that, I make sure they know Iím their biggest fan from their first to their last day, no matter what happens.

 

Yeah, all I care about is to have happy, healthy dogs that like to play with me. And everything I do, I do it because I believe it's in their best interest.


You might not agree with me, you certainly don't have to, I'm actually very interested to hear on what data you made your conclusion that agility before 12th month is bad, I might learn something from it. But I would appreciate if you did the same: instead of accusing me that I'm torturing my puppy for the sake of results, you could read my "Agility is good for the dogs" where I explain what I'm doing and why. I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong in whether it's good to start early or not. What I'm saying is that you're completely and absolutely wrong if you think that what Iím doing is for the sake of results and you can check with anybody that knows me to tell you that it's not true.


Now to an answer to a question when to start with agility:


There is no one general answer to this question. I actually never ask how old the dog is, but instead look at the dog. He might be 2 years old, but if he is fat or unfit, I will send a handler home and ask him to get a dog in a proper condition before I let them do anything. Agility is not a good place to try to make a dog lose weight or get fit.

 
Now, if we're talking about healthy, fit dog, I look at how coordinated he is, how much awareness he has of his body. At what age a dog realizes where all his feet are depends on breed, individual characteristic and also all the work that was done before. If a dog spent his entire life in a crate, he will never get very coordinated. If you play a lot with a puppy, let him run loose in the woods and teach him tricks that make him more aware of his body (backward walking, backward weaving between legs, backward climbing stairs, hind feet targeting, sitting pretty, cavaletti work etc.), he will be able to use his body much better. Still, I did even more of those things with Bu as I did with La, but La mentally&physically developed way faster than Bu for example. Bu was really slow, much slower as most other BCs, partly because of her long legs, partly because of her strange mind.

 
With La, I started agility related work (left&right, go on etc.) at 7 weeks, and with tunnels&jumps with bars on the floor and with plank work (running up and down the plank on the ground) at 2,5 months. At 5 months, she looked like an adult dog. Still, I didn't get to her final jump height (45cm) until she was 15 months.

 
With Bu, I had enough other problems that I only had time to start with agility related work (cik&cap, left&right, plank on the ground) at 3,5 months. I only did what I can do in my living room since she was still not interested in anything outside. At about 4,5 months, I was able to start working on our agility field, I did just cik&caps (wrapping) around jump wings & tunnels for at least a month, with no bars at all. Those that know my cik&cap turns, knows that you need to introduce and then heave a bar really slowly. I don't remember at what height I was at particular age, I know I put bars on 55cm for the first time when she was 11 months and I think I'll heave them to 65cm after she is 15 months, she still doesn't even look as an adult, despite she is pretty coordinated by now. I think she ran full-size dog-walk for the first time when she was 6 months, but started to regularly work it when she was 8 months and I started with A-frame when she was about 10 months. With weave-poles, I normally start around 6th month, but I use channel method, so a dog is just running straight for weeks. Bu, however, is natural-born-talent for weaves, I think she could learn them in like 5 days if I wanted. Of course, I didn't want it, so I stopped a training for several months as soon as she would need to do any weaving and only started again at 10 months. She learned in no time. Now, I do weave-poles maximum 2 times per training (I train 2 to 3 times a week) with her.

Anyway: none of this is totally exact, I don't keep any records, I just watch a dog and make sure she is comfortable with everything she does. General rule could be that you should watch a dog and if you see that he needs to put any kind of effort into anything he does, then you should stop right away. All jumping, running, climbing and weaving should be done completely effortless, with ease and with complete awareness & control of all legs.

Also, you should be aware that you can do 95% of work without any agility equipment involved. I could run any jumping course with no weaves on Bu's THIRD (and La's FIRST) training on agility field. Why? Because she can read my body language since she is with me 24 hours a day, because she knows cik&cap that you can teach by circling any object you want, like a tree, because she knew left&right&go on. What else does one need for course work? Nothing. That's all. Agility is really easy when you have good relationship with your dog. The only one that needs training here is the handler. My other dogs trained me well enough that Bu doesn't need to train me to a degree she would have to if she had a novice handler. And if it looks to you there are hours of agility training in that course that you can see on a video, you're wrong: there are 14 years of my handling work in that video, months of my bonding work with Bu, hours of my general training and minutes of real agility training.

 

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