Tag Archives: agility

Notes to my 4-H kids!

11 Jun

For the 2nd year in a row, I’m lucky enough to help mentor the Scott County 4-H Agility kids!  I’m working with them once a week to help them get ready for their agility show this summer.  Some of these kids did this last year and some are new this year.  They start meeting in May and work 1-2 times a week until their show in July.  I’m always amazed how willing “kids” are to try new things.  As I typed up my notes to them this evening, I thought it would be fun to share with everyone.  Enjoy!!!


Hi everyone,

Good work tonight!
Thanks to all that turned in their goals for the summer!  I think with a little hard work, you should all be able to achieve those goals 🙂
Thoughts for the week….
  • Remember that when you show, your dog will need to be crated.  Your dog isn’t going to be able to be with you at all times.  Make the crate a place the dog wants to be.  Use very high value treats when the dog goes in the crate especially if your dog isn’t used to being in a crate.  NEVER force your dog into the crate.  If they are not liking their crate, try taking the top off of it if it is a plastic crate, reward them when they go over to it. 
  • If your dog would rather hang in the crate than play with you, use your high value treats when you release the dog and lower value treats for when the dog goes into the crate.
Impulse Control:
  • When your dog is in the crate, reward for them staying in.  Toss treats in using a random rate of reinforcement.  Sometimes throw them in rapid fire and sometimes through them in slowly.  
  • Don’t use your body to “body block” them from coming out.  If they cheat, simply say nothing and close the door!
  • When you release them to come out, use a verbal release followed by tapping your leg or motion if they aren’t sure they are allowed to come out.
  • Many dogs after getting a lot of treats in their crate will want to go right back in after being release since they just were highly reinforced for staying in!
  • Play is one of the most important ways to reward your dog!  Remember…Play is Work and Work is Play!  This is supposed to be FUN for both you and your dog!  Be playful!!!!
  • I tend to use food when I want a “thoughtful” dog – teaching a new skill and a toy when I’m working on “drive & passion”
  • Be creative in your toys.  Find “something” your dog will interact and tug with…
  • If you have a very food motivated dog, take an old sock and put liverwurst or something “yummy & mushy” in it!  
  • Remember your ultimate goal is for your dog to play with YOU…ANYTIME, ANYPLACE and with ANYTHING!
  • You can’t expect your dog to want to play with you if you are “boring”!  Think like a dog…how do dogs play with each other?!
  • If they love their tennis ball, drill a hole through it and put a rope on it!!!  
  • Remember, the fun of playing fetch is going to get the ball which is away from YOU!  
  • I want you to be interacting with your dog when you play with them!!!!
Restrained Calls:
  • Agility in it’s simplest form is a fancy game of chase me!
  • Your goal for next week is to have your dog chase you and hopefully play with the toy.  If your dog is still not wanting to play with a toy, you may use food.  
  • If you use food, you need to be really animated and give lots of cookies for your dog chasing you.  Just ask yourself…if your mom gave you a couple pennies for doing the dishes, how likely would you be to do the dishes next week?  However, if she gave you a $20 bill, how likely would you be to do them???????
  • If your dog is getting distracted, don’t run so far…stay closer to your dog, use higher value toy or food.  No dog should want to leave you when you’re doing a restrained recall.  You need to be more fun than anything else around!
2 on 2 off for Contacts:
  • We’re going to start next week working on our end position for the contacts.
  • Try this week to take a box or a board that is about 4-6 inches off the ground and “plop” your dog into end position.  Back two feet on the board and front two feet on the ground.  Give LOTS and LOTS of treats when they are in this position.  Release them with your verbal release…don’t use motion to release them.
  • Try REALLY hard to make sure you release them and that they don’t come off by themselves.  
  • If you’ve been practicing your impulse control with your crate, it should transfer over pretty easily to end position!
Next Wednesday:
  • Don’t feed your dog dinner before you come to class.  Hungry dogs tend to work harder than dogs that have just had dinner and are in a “food coma”!
  • Bring a trail mix of treats.  High Value, Low Value, Special treats (cooked chicken, hamburger, etc)
  • Bring several toys!!!  What they like at home, may not be “high” enough value to play when there are lots of distractions.  I always have special “show toys” that only come out when I’m at a show or training.  
  • Bring your crate!
Have fun with your dog and I’ll see you all next Wednesday 🙂
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