Puppyhood, Training

Beginner Agility Classes

March 9, 2015
Agility is not just dogs jumping around

We knew Vizslas were fast runners, amazing trail/obstacle racers, and we knew they could jump high, but we didn’t quite realize what an agile little bunny we had with Whiskey. Early on we encouraged her to climb up stumps, problem solve barriers, and navigate steep cliffs. We were thinking to ingrain her with a joy of climbing, yet a healthy regard about what was within her limits or unsafe. Now she loves to climb for fun!

a very little Whiskey learning to walk along logs
we encouraged her to climb 
and so she was fearless!
balancing on strange shapes

All this made agility classes seem so attractive. We were lucky enough to find an agility class downtown that also mixed in intermediate obedience. In fact, there is a ton of obedience necessary to run an agility course well. A dog that is easily distracted, or doesn’t follow at heel would be really difficult to get through a course. And a super bonus and surprise was our class had 3 vizslas (out of 4 dogs!). Watch the experts here– I’m just super amazed at these dogs and trainers!

are we ready for class today?
practicing stay with distractions

Whiskey’s half-sister Millie was one of those Vizslas, and we would usually meet up for a romp at the park before heading to class so they were sufficiently tired enough to concentrate. Our first classes we started with some obedience training (heeling, staying with distractions) before trying out the course. We also switched to short leashes that didn’t trail when they went into tunnels.

I dunno about this!
our first classes had the ladder on the ground
gets raised as we go
flying Whiskey

The hardest obstacle was the weaving poles. It’s not a natural movement for these hunting dogs, and I would venture to say that herding dogs would have an easier time with the movement. Tunnels and jumps were super easy though, and we’ve had Whiskey balance on logs so often as a pup that the see-saw wasn’t a problem at all. The biggest challenges were when the tunnels got longer, or had a sharp bend in them. Also, Whiskey found the chute and sharp corners in the course (two jumps at 90 degrees) difficult not to veer off course. Our instructor changed the course several times a lesson so we never got bored.

weaving is hard!
you must tell them which way to go
see-saws can be hard for lots of dogs
waiting our turn
this chute business isn’t so easy either

One of the things worth considering was that our lessons were held indoors on a hard surface (the green was a thin layer) and a 10 month old is still developing so jolts and jumping and running shouldn’t be encouraged much. We thought once a week was ok (we only walk the course a couple times and our speed couldn’t be considered a ‘run’), especially since we do all our training and practicing in the forest. It was also great to get in the obedience training and realize our “stay” was pretty poor with distractions. In the end we were able to run the course mostly off leash (except for the weaving poles. Did I mention our class uses no treats? That’s not easy for Whiskey! We were also the youngest by far and we did pretty good, if I may say so myself.

sit-stay, then calling her over the jumps
is that a tired Vizsla I see?
oops I can’t hold the page right!

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