Agility training is held on a Wednesday night at Carine Open Space. Junior classes start at 6:30pm, followed by the advanced classes at 8pm. Training is run throughout the year with a break over Christmas and New Year, and through January as it is generally too hot for the dogs to work then. Also, training does not take place if the temperature is over 35 degrees.
Before beginning agility training there are a few things you need to think through...
- Is my dog old enough? You may begin basic agility training with your dog once it has reached 14 months of age (or older). Please be aware however that your dog may not be jumping at its full height until 18 months or older.
- Is my dog in good health? Agility is a very demanding sport and as such, it is essential that your dog is in good physical condition. Dogs that have severe joint problems or are visually impaired are probably not good candidates for doing agility. It also would not be fair on an overweight dog to be doing agility as carrying extra weight greatly increases the stress on a dog’s joints when jumping and doing other activities associated with agility. (Be aware that although you may think your dog’s weight is fine it may not be for agility. Please do not be offended if a Senior Instructor suggests that you lose some weight off your dog before continuing with agility training, they are only acting in the best interest of your dog.)
- Can I control my dog? The environment associated with agility is one that is highly stimulating for both dogs and owners!! There are lots of dogs running around and there is usually a great degree of noise, with dogs barking and handlers calling commands to their dogs as they work. If you are unable to call your dog back instantly when off lead you will need to work on this before joining agility.
Please check the Club Calendar for the start of the next agility training term, at which time your dog can be assessed. These assessments are conducted by a senior agility instructor.
The following are a series of criteria that you and your dog will be expected to pass before being able to join agility at Northern Suburbs. You must pass all of the criteria to be eligible.
The criteria are as follows...
- Attention – You will be asked to get and maintain your dog’s attention whilst moving through other dogs. It is up to you how you keep your dog’s attention, be it using food, a toy or simply talking to your dog. This exercise is done on lead.
- Distraction work – Can you control your dog, and gain and keep your dogs attention in a stimulating environment. You will be asked to walk around some equipment (approximately 15 meters away) whilst other dogs are using it. You will be expected to be able to control your dog and also to gain its attention when asked by the assessing instructor.
- Recall – You will need to be able to do an off lead recall with your dog. Again there will be the distraction of other dogs working on equipment near by. Your dog must come straight to you without disrupting the dogs that are working. If you do not think your dog will wait you may ask the instructor to hold your dog until you call it.
- Moving off lead – You will be asked to remove your dog’s lead and run around with your dog. Your dog is expected to stay with you at all times and not run off. Again this will be done approximately 15 meters from other dogs working on a course.
What To Bring To Class
The following are recommended for you to bring to class each week...
- A Crate or stake – This is a must have. There are many times during training when you will be asked to leave your dog on its own. It is imperative that you have a secure means of keeping your dog in one spot while you are away from it. If you can not leave your dog tethered on a stake then we suggest a crate. Your other option is to leave your dog in the car, however you will find this both frustrating and time consuming.
- A flat buckle or quick release collar
- A lead – Preferably 2 meters in length and made from fabric (no chain leads)
- Toys – Your dog’s favourite toy that it finds extremely rewarding (tug toys are great as are squeaky toys)
- Water and bowl – This is especially important during the summer months. Don’t forget water for yourself either.
- Treats – Bring LOTS of treats. You will be surprised how many you will use, especially during beginner classes. Make sure your treats are highly valuable to the dog. Garlic sausages or polony are often good, so to are the “Four leggs” or “Chunkers” treats that are available in the cold section of most supermarkets.
- A hungry dog – If you normally feed your dog in the evening we recommend that you delay its dinner until after training. A hungry dog will generally be more eager to work and you also lessen the likelihood of your dog suffering from bloat.
What Is Not Accepted At Agility
There are several things that are not acceptable for Agility training. Please be aware that the following will not be allowed...
- Aggressive dogs – Dog’s that show aggressiveness towards either people or other dogs will not be tolerated.
- Correction Collars
- Harsh training methods – NST & ODC adopts positive training methods throughout all of the clubs disciplines.
- Bitches in season – It is not fair to other club members to bring a bitch in season onto the training grounds. If you have a bitch in season and she can not be left at home then you must leave her in the car before and during training times.
- Dogs that run off – Not only is this frustrating for you as a handler it is also very disruptive to other members training their dogs, as well as others in your class who have to wait while you get hold of your dog. Remember; "if you can’t catch ‘em, you can’t train ‘em!"
Joining The Club
Anyone wishing to participate in Agility at NST & ODC is required to be a member of the Club. You must be assessed prior to joining, however, once you have passed the assessment you will be unable to start training until you have purchased both a General Club Membership and the Agility Membership. You can do this online. Once you have registered you will be provided with a membership card. Although you do not need to wear it during class, you must keep this card with you at all times and present it when asked.
Important To Remember
Agility is a fantastic fun sport for both you and your dog that is highly rewarding both mentally and physically. Try not to get frustrated with your dog, especially in the early days, as they are learning and experiencing a whole range of new things. Be patient and work at you and your dog’s pace, do not expect your dog to be a master at everything overnight. Agility involves lots of practice and perseverance, but when you utilise both of these the results are truly amazing.
Good luck and most importantly have fun with you dog.
There is a Facebook page that you might wish to join for agility-related information.
Junior Training (from the Agility Instructors)
Our junior agility classes are all about teaching both dog and handler how to 'play' the game of agility. These classes aim to teach solid foundations which can be built on in senior classes, if the handler and dog team wish to progress to competition. If our agility members have any questions, we ask that they approach their instructor, who will always be happy to help.
Agility training is a little like putting together a jigsaw. We build on the small pieces, one at a time, aiming to get the whole jigsaw finished in the end. In agility terms, when the jigsaw is completed, then each handler and dog team graduates to the senior classes and, hopefully, considers competing - to have even more fun together and to test themselves against others, in competition. Some handlers only want to have some fun 'one on one' time with their dog, so they are content to work on the individual pieces of the jigsaw, or are happy to slot a few pieces together. We get that - and we are happy to play a part in this fun.
Because these pieces of jigsaw are worked on at various times of the term and are not anything like the full picture yet, we encourage our junior class members to not try to do full courses. Our experience tells us that the mechanics of what has been taught would disappear in the heady atmosphere of a ‘course’. When each handler and dog team reaches the pre-trialers class, they are shown how to put together small sequences and how to follow numbers. They can also, on request, have the rules of trialing explained and shown. Generally twice per year an unofficial 'small course' is put up and the handler and dog teams have a non-pressured opportunity of trying a course.
We invite you to enjoy your agility journey at the Northern Suburbs Dog Club.