Jet at the Beach
Jet at the Beach
Jet at the Beach

I am just curious. I’ve heard it time and time again. When teaching a new dog agility, don’t teach sequencing. Start on short sequences not more than about six jumps (or obstacles) in a row.

I don’t understand this and I’ll tell you why. Chase, my BC, is great at short sequences of about six to eight jumps. After that, I lose him.  I can’t keep up with him and my brain starts getting fried.  So all the time I spent in his foundation training just doing very short sequences has, I think, hurt my handling with him.

Plus, I want a dog to realize that when we do agility, we do a long sequence of obstacles. With Tatum… she now starts to poop out on me after about obstacle 8 or 9.  I have been giving her treats as a reward about half way through the course, then we go on. I’ll keep extending the number of obstacles we do slowly, so eventually she’ll just get rewarded at the end of a 12 or 14 obstacle (novice) course.

I understand that when you start any new training skills, like crosses or serpentines, you’ll want to start with short sequences.  So you can give the dog the information he needs in order to learn the skill.  I definitely do that.  But once they understand the skill, I want to put that skill into a longer sequence so they understand that they come up in a long line of obstacles. The skill is not just an isolated event.

Jet has just about gotten his obstacles down. I’m still proofing them, and will do that with short sequences, or the obstacles alone.  But I want to start to compete with him next spring.  And I want him to understand that agility means you do a long line of obstacles in a row, with certain turns and skills stuck in the middle. I want him to learn forward focus for a course-length worth of obstacles.  I don’t want to get stuck with Jet like I have gotten with Chase, unable to really go beyond an 8 or 9 obstacle course!

I know I’m unorthodox in my training. I don’t train a dog to be frantically high for flyball. I teach them to think about that box, get their rear feet up.  I believe that if the dog can learn to do it slow, they can learn to do it fast.  The speed will come later.  Maybe Chase has just corrupted me.  I’ve had to work extra hard to get his focus and attention. To get him to think and listen.  Instead of be so high that he just barrels through courses and knocks bars and doesn’t understand that this really IS a team sport, and he has to listen to me too.

I also think one of the most difficult part of agility is the spaces between the obstacles.  The silence between the notes… I don’t remember where I heard that.  🙂  But handling between obstacles is important too. And putting them in sequence is, for me, a very important skill that I want to get going here pretty soon with Jet.  I don’t want to only practice 6 or 8 obstacle sequences then throw him in a trial that has twice that many.

Oh, and another picture from the beach on this snowy day. LOL