Today we're participating in a Dog Agility Blog Event where agility bloggers from across the universe come together several times a year to share their stories on a specific topic. Today's topic is Starting Your Puppy, the perfect topic for us since young Rocco is just 17 months old and about to start competing in agility!
You can read a bit about Cosmo as an agility dog in the first time we participated in Agility Blog Action day. Sadly, shortly after that post Cosmo was diagnosed with lung cancer. Cosmo loved agility and he was a very special teammate for me, but I vowed to do a few things differently when training my second pup, Rocco, so we could enjoy it even more.
This is only our second time participating in Agility Blog Action day, and the topic of Starting Your Puppy inspired us to jump back into this blog event. I'd like to share with you the things we're doing differently this time around.
1. Take Your Time
Good foundation training is key and has made all the difference for us this time around. In the past few years, I also became an agility instructor and the most common thing that I see is that folks want to rush to learn all the obstacles.
2. Cross Train
Since is seemed like FOREVER until we could get on equipment, we took a Puppy S.T.A.R. class, a rally class and a puppy manners class before Rocco was a year old. We also took an online puppy tricks class when Rocco was about four months old, and we continue to teach new tricks to keep things interesting and fun! This was a terrific way to start conditioning Rocco for agility while showing him how much fun it was to learn and play with me! Which brings us to…
3. Play With Your Puppy
|A Fit Paws Wobble Board helped Rocco gain confidence|
with movement and learn a two-on, two-off contact
Playing helped us establish a bond that has translated to agility. Playing included fetch and retrieve games, tugging, playing box games and crate games. I also simply ran around the backyard, changing directions so that Rocco would learn how fun it was to run with me and turn left and right! We also used our Fit Paws equipment to play games.
4. Expose Your Pup to Different Venues
Rocco and I train on agility fields in various places and you can also take a practice jump to a park to help get your pup ready for competition distractions. Early on, I also took Rocco to a few trials so he could get used to the environment.
Reinforcing basic skills like sit and down while you're shopping at your favorite pet store also helps train for distractions!
|Rocco had a blast at his first Agility Intro Trial a few|
weeks ago. The results weren't too shabby either!
5. Attend an Intro Trial
USDAA now offers an Intro Program, a great way to introduce your pup to the stimulation of an agility trial. You can read about our first experience at the Intro Agility Trial we attended a few weeks ago!
You can enter your pup as young as 14 months old, so it's a great way to find out where your pup is at and what you need to work on.
Rocco and I are looking forward to competing at our first trial in the next few months, and I think we started out on the right paw this time. I learned so much from my first agility dog, Cosmo, and the learning never stops! That's one of the things that continues to make agility fun and challenging for us!
Thanks to Steve at Agility Nerd for hosting this Dog Agility Blog Event today. Check out more great articles on Starting Your Puppy from the rest of the talented bloggers in this event!