Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beginners Agility Class - Handling Fundamentals

I taught my first LCCOC Agility Class beginning in January 2011, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights.  Due to many rain-outs, this class went on thru March 16.  I had 5 students, Jerri, Jen, Judy, Melanie and Cathie.  All but Cathie had been in beginners for at least 3 previous sessions, and were clearly ahead of Cathie, who just graduated from Intro.

Here's a summary of what I taught in 6 weeks, which I entitled.

Handling Fundamentals - Part 1

After D's are relatively comfortable on the equipment, handlers need some instruction in handling.  How can they guide D over sequences if D won't follow them, turn with them, value their hand motions and arm changes, etc.  So this class will include a good bit of flatwork, and homework that can be practiced between classes, and without equipment. I pointed out that nobody can learn agility in 1 hour a week. I invited students to arrive half an hour early and stay after class to run their dogs over the equipment they already know.
Session #1 - Objectives

3. Build value in D looking at your hand. Touch/Treat method.

4. Build value in the Clicker and learn to use it. Click=Treat. NOTE: This is essential for later distance work, in lieu of running back to treat D.

5. Learn to use the hand nearest D to guide him, and keep the other hand flat against your body, or unused elbow pressed against your body. Only one hand out at a time.

6. Learn to treat from the extended hand. Don't reach across your body to treat.

7. Stand up straight to guide D around. Don't lean down to D's level, except to treat a small D. Make D look up at you.

8. Flatwork/Homework: On the flat, teach the Post Turn, the Pull-Through, the Head Snap at the Rear Cross. Work both sides, identify D's non-dominant side, and practice on that side more.

9. Demonstrate/practice the use of these techniques over 1 jump, then 2 jumps, then combine them in a short sequence of jumps. Students should be able to identify these moves when they see them and know when to use them.

10. Move class along at a fast pace, reduce standing around, give the biggest bang for their buck. Where possible, set up enough stations for each student to work independantly, then gather everyone together to show off what they learned in rapid succession.

I set up this little course.

Session #2 - Objectives

Continuing their previous training from Kay:

Take them to the big dog walk and evaluate their performance doing run-bys, off leash, both sides, both directions.

Same as above with full height A-frame. Lower if need be.

Along with that, practice 2o/2o down contacts on both Aframe and Dog Walk, both sides/ both directions, with treat on target (which they are used to), fading to a touch target/click/treat at target.

Introduce Start Line Stays. Sit. Stay. H walks a few feet away, return, click, treat. Then 6 feet away, then 10 feet away. Then 20 feet away. Then walking side to side as walking away. ALWAYS AT FIRST, return and treat with “Good Stay”. PAY YOUR DOG for a good sit/stay.

Mix & Match H’s behavior, but of course, D always does the very same thing.

If they get that: Try a Sit/Stay/Walk far away/Release D with Come or Over (a jump)/Treat.

Review of last week’s lessons by running the 4 jump course I set up (all bars set a 16”). Then, big surprise, set up the mirror image course and make them do it on opposite side. Rear cross 1 to 2/pull through 2 to 3/post turn 3 to 4. At this point, they are running along with D.


Homework: Practice sit/stays (no distractions). Also, continue with last week’s flatwork. Continue building value in the clicker (Click/Treat), and value in your hand (Touch/Click).

Session #3
Review of front cross footwork.  Give touch target container.  Practice with sends to target.  Send over jump with rear cross.

NOTE: In session #3, I will build on the Sit/Stay practice, by introducing the Call/RunBy/Send principle of training every obstacle, beginning with Calls, (not yet called Lead Outs). Calls require a strong sit/stay (fading away the need for instructor to “hold D by the collar” until H calls him). May also introduce sit/stays with distractions.

Session #4 Directional Handling with one tunnel and 1 jump, Solid Sit/Stays, See-Saw training w 4 on contacts and nose touch treat, Out command with 4 jumps box.

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