Agility Training At Full Speed

When doing Silvia Trkman’s Agility Foundation exercises with Java I am very particular about what kind of attitude I want to see and what kind of speed. I want her to learn early on the basic ingredients of a good agility run and am willing to postpone other training until I get them.

The ingredients are:

Of course, to train we first need dog’s focus. But there’s more to it than that in agility. The course requires the dog to switch from obstacle focus (looking at the obstacle, being drawn to the obstacle) to handler focus (looking at handler, passing obstacles in favor of handler) and back. Knowing how to do both and switching at the right times is what makes the run look smooth and flowing.

If the dog won’t send to an obstacle it befalls on the handler to take him all the way there, which means considerably more running for the human part of the team and less speed for the dog since he has to wait for the slow human legs to get there. Sometimes the dog will turn into the handler, barking and jumping so by the time they will get to the next obstacle the dog will miss it.

Java is getting better with sends to tunnels:

If I can send the dog to an obstacle far away I should also be able to start moving to the next obstacle while letting the dog complete the one I sent him to. Without this, sends are of limited use since I will have to wait for the dog to take the obstacle before I can move again.

I want to do all training at similar speed as the dog will have in the end so that I can start solving all the problems that come with that speed early on. It’s easy to neglect training sends and commitment if the dog is running slow enough so I can be at every obstacle at the right time. Ruby taught me this lesson and I can’t wait to see if I learned it well enough 🙂

Speed changes many exercises in agility, but most of all wraps and running contacts. If doing RC training it is imperative to start with full speed. Java thinks that’s a great idea 🙂

Tightness of wraps
Tight turns are easy when the dog is coming to the jump with little speed and I’m right there to handle it, but things will fall apart when I need to send and the dog is coming with lots of speed. This is the major reason why I want to start with speed. There is no point in training wraps at half speed.

I can regulate how difficult or easy I make a wrap for Java by changing the distance from which I start her:

Even though Silvia has posted the first two sequences in Agility Foundations classroom already three weeks ago we haven’t tried them yet because I think we have more work to do on basics. First we had to work on drive for curved tunnels (done!) and now we’re working on tightness of 180-degree wraps (getting there). As much as I would love to just go and do it I know patience will pay off. Soon! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Agility Training At Full Speed

  1. Eva Millan

    Hi Andrea. My name is Eva and I am doing Fundations at the same time that you with my pyr Harpo. I couldnt resist to let you know that I am in the same page that you.. We are still in the lesson 1 trying to get all the skills you have commented above…thank you so much for writting them down as I havent done it for myself… I think I will print your post so I can keep it close… :). You are doing a brilliant job.!

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Eva 🙂 If I’m not mistaken there are quite a few others at the same stage as us. And also some who are a bit rushing ahead even though they don’t have the basics yet. I like this about AF course – one can make it as easy or as difficult as one desires.

  2. I like your two-tunnel running there! I think I might try this. Lu is nice and fast on a straight tunnel but slows down so much as soon as there’s a bit of a curve. Maybe just running back and forth flat out will help her see that it’s a really cool game!

    • Java loves running through straight tunnels, too, so for her the biggest speed boost was a curved tunnel – straight tunnel setup. Then we started doing two curved tunnels as well.

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