Our training

My training is best known for fast, happy and healthy dogs, tight turns and of course,  running contacts and tricks.

My 10 Golden Rules:

1. develop a firm and trusting relationships with your dog

2. properly condition your dog: my dogs’ minimum is 2 hours off of leash running in the woods per day + one all-day-long hike in the mountains per week

3. teach your dog tricks – as many as you can think of: tricks teach you how to teach, they teach your dog how to learn and they also teach the dog that learning is fun, that you’re fun. Side effect is total awareness of his body, tricks teach a dog how to use his body. Rear end and overall body awareness, balance, strength, power, flexibility and agility that my dogs excel in so much are all the side-effects of all the tricks they’ve learned. “Too much tricks” doesn’t exist. If you don’t have any ideas, you can get some from our tricks videos.

4. teach your dog obedience. It’s very easy to motivate a dog for those 30s on agility course. It’s much harder to motivate your dog for long minutes of just heeling. If you want to learn about motivation, obedience is a way to go. If you can make those long minutes of heeling fun to a dog, then making agility fun for your dog should be a piece of cake.

5. boost your dog’s confidence – only confident dog will dare to run at his maximal speed. Make sure your dog knows he is World Champion before you let him do his first jump.

6. don’t be afraid to do things your way. Books, videos and seminars are helpful, but no one knows your dog better as you do, especially after teaching him those 100 tricks and playing and walking with him every day, so… Trust your intuition and do what YOU think is best for your dog. Avoid those that think there is just one best way. Wary those who want to make you believe you need particular breed/method/handling tool/video in order to succeed. Were you told too that you MUST have a lead-out in order to win? Well, I win at least 90% of my runs with La. And she doesn’t stay.

7. if something goes wrong, always remember it’s your fault, caused either by your training or handling. That’s a good news since it gives you a power to fix it yourself too. Things would be much harder if it was dog’s fault. Luckily, they, unlike people, come without mistakes.

8. never forget that results don’t count. Because of the speed of my dogs, I can have a very ugly run and still win. And I might go off-course sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the run wasn’t perfect. Who would care about that off course then anyway? I always say that every good dog goes off-course sometimes – that’s not the case only if handler is perfect too. But I don’t know any of those, so…

9. dogs work best when they work for themselves. Don’t ask them for a favour to work with you. Make them ask you for a favour to work with them.

10. you want agility training tips? If you follow the advise from above, agility gets so easy that you don’t need those. Just go out and have fun with your dog!

photo by Maja Rokavec

 

Some articles on our training you can find on this page:

Agility is easy!

It’s all about the teamwork! 

Busting some myths on dog training: ending on a good note?

Busting the myths II: dealing with fears

Busting the myths III: too slow for your dog?

Heeling, my favourite trick

Cik&Cap, the easiest way to perfect turns 

Why teaching tricks?

Be generous with your rewards!

Large vs. Small/Medium

My sweet autistic Bu

BC vs. PyrShep

How it all began…

A question of enthusiasm

Let’s play!

World Championships 2011 

World Championships 2010

 

162 thoughts on “Our training

  1. Hello,
    This is our first competition. What do you think about my dog any me? I know, my handling is awful, I think it confused him and made him slow. Do you agree?

    My second run was better, but I can’t post it today, because it is not on youtube but I’m going to post it.

    • He sure is running great after you get that off-course and then you relax and RUN! Next time, try to relax and RUN right from the start! No rear crosses for him, sooner with front crosses and run as fast as you can, that would be my advise in very short :)

  2. I have a question about your weaves. If I remember correctly you do channel weaves with your dogs? Do you have a totally straight channel or do you have the end as in this skech? I couldn’t find the words to explain so I drew a picture ;).
    I have taught Leevi as in the first picture but then, he used guides to help him go the right way.. So wich one do you use? and if you use the first one, how do you get the behaviour full speed without the guides?

    • Oh, I don’t use guides at all! I don’t like things that don’t allow the dog to think and learn :) I just use poles far apart first, as in second picture and bring them in slowly enough to work on all other aspects of weaving first (independence, entries etc.), before teh dog is doing much weaving at all.

      • Do you have training videos for weaves as you do for running
        Contacts? Also,training video for 2o2o dog walk from the start? I taught my first and only agility dog those two 4 Years ago but with no plan. I was lucky. I would like a plan to use for my new puppy.

        • It’s all planned, but my plans are somewhat delayed now that long-distance classes are keeping me so busy… :) However, you can see most steps of both in Agility Foundation class… -- but hey, didn’t you plan running contacts for your puppy?!?

          • I am getting my first bc, a fetch baby and I am not so young . I worry about keeping up. I plan on taking all your distance classes with him, maybe you can help me decide when the time comes. For now I am really enjoying your foundations class with my Aussie. Hope todo a handling class next if you offer it. Then you can prepare my handling!

            • With good commitment and sends, everything is possible :) But well, I usually tell people to start both and then decide what they like better somewhere on a way -- or simply go for both and do RC for easy exits and 2on2off for tricky exits.

  3. Hey Silvia!
    I admire your training and dogs, you have inspired me to do so much more with my dogs! I was wondering if you could give some advice on a few problems with one of my dogs.
    I have a 3 1/2 year old German Pointer x Springer Spaniel who has been training in agility since he was 10 months old, but over time has built up ‘motivational problems’. He is happy to play and tear about, so I doubt this is an energy problem. He is a smart cookie and loves to learn new things as well.
    After observing this it seems he takes agility too seriously. This may sound rather silly but he appears so scared he’s going to make a mistake he puts pressure on him self, resulting in him slowing down losing interest FAST. I have never punished him for making mistakes and have a very positive energy (if I do say so myself…) as my other JRT is fast and extremely motivated, but he is a very sensitive dog and can pick up minute changes.

    I would be so grateful for any advice you could give on this problem to push his energy, motivation and speed levels up.
    I have asked many other agility trainers for help, but have only been greeted with details of their upcoming seminars, books and DVDs. I am in the UK, so many of these seminars are unavailable to me and I am tight for money, so books and DVDs are tricky to buy.

    • Well, there is plenty of free information through comments on this site! :) He sounds a lot like my older BC, Bu. She is extremely smart and can sense something is not perfect no matter how hard I try to not show it. She wants to do everything right so badly that she will slow down to get it right, so I make sure I build difficulties VERY gradually with her, so that she can always be right. Also, shaping different tricks helped her A LOT as she learned there are no mistakes, there are just tries and she has no problems redoing hard entry to weaves for ever for example as she finds it a fun thinking game -- thanks to TONS of shaping we have done. She only slows down when my handling is not clear, so she really taught me everything about the importance of early information, precuing every turn and showed me all the advantages of cik&cap -- that really helped A LOT. She will still slow down if she doesn’t know exactly where she is going, she always needs to know where is the next obstacle after the next to keep her speed. And of course: tons of playing, inventing new games, making it all about the running… -- All this helped her to be able to set best times at World Championships level -- pretty cool for my slow, no drive BC as I call her :) Good luck!

  4. I read on your main website how you teach the teeter. Sounds good to me but how about sends? How do you teach sends if you call the dog to you for so long? Or will he just get it himself because ha should allready know the position?

    Also, Terra should be about 10kg when all grown up, can I do 2on2off on the teeter. Or should/must I do 4on? I heard you do 4 on with the small dogs, what is the downside of doing 2on2off with small dog?

    • Hm, yes, that is actually somewhat out of date, I teach it differently now… But that way or another, I don’t really teach sends to the teeter, I’m in front of my dogs in over 99% on the course and for the rest under 1%, they just go to their usual place :) 2on2off is not good for small dogs because if they go into the position directly, it’s very hard for light dog to keep it down and they get pretty shaken by the see-saw. My puppy (under 6kg) insisted to do 2on2off on teeter for very long as she knew the position and kept offering it on her own, but I then saw she is starting to refuse the see-saw -- or some dogs will just start stopping sooner in order to make it still first and then take the position (what is of course not what you want) -- so I’m trying hard to get 4on now. After this and a similar experience with one of the students with 9kg dog, I think I’ll be going for 4on also with 10kg dogs… 2on2off is of course possible too, I just think it’s less comfortable for them.

        • I changed it because it only works with dogs who are already comfortable with movement and sound. I want to recognize those who aren’t as early as possible to not have problems later, so we just do tons of pushing the see-saw down with front feet, then jumping on it with 4 feet and then back-chain from there. Meaning that I’m not trying to trick them into thinking the see-saw only moves when they’re at the end, but make them believe that running to the end and slamming it down is tons of fun! :)

  5. I didn’t know where to put this question so I’ll put it here :)
    My jack russell often steps on the long jump panels, sometimes knocking them over, sometimes not. I’ve NO idea how to fix this so advice would be great. :D

    • I don’t know what kind of long jump panels you have, but mine can be turned upside down and that doesn’t allow stepping on, so I always start it that way and only turn them around again when the dog is automatically jumping it. If you can’t do that, you can set two jumps, one at the beginning and one at the end, with the bar slightly above the level of panels, to give him an information it’s about jumping.

  6. Hi

    Just wondered if you have any tips to help Sleet get a little faster. Sorry the clip is blurred…forgot to change the focus setting on my rubbish little camcorder beforehand. You can still see everything though. I’ll post my other dog Wren…you can definitely see a difference. It was suggested that I space the jumps out a little for Sleet. What do you reckon. She has a real issue with full height jumps and measures them quite severely so have quit them for the time being. She can jump standard too but can still measure those to a degree also. Here, she is jumping medium.

    And Wren..

    Thanks in advance

    • Well, if she is measuring jumps, it’s normal she can’t run full speed… It could be she doesn’t see well or maybe something hurts her or did hurt her and she still remembers? I would definitely rule out physical problems first… -- despite some are hard to find (soft tissue injuries and similar), so I would probably still prefer to stay on a safe side and do very low jumps only. The general rule to speed up the dog though is to train less and play more :) For now, I wouldn’t be using jumps at all, just tunnels, making them lots of fun -- and then sloly start to include some low jumps into tunnel to tunnel games.

      • I noticed that the vids are now showing. Were you able to view them?
        Our instructor is a soft tissue massage therapist…she found a bit of scarring in her shoulder muscle and showed me some stretches and stuff to do after she has exercised. However, I have another clip of her running a course on standard height (55cm) and she didn’t measure all jumps, only some and mostly when I wasn’t sure and thus she wasn’t sure..she also went offcourse and chose a hurdle over a tunnel…lol:P…so I wonder whether it’s a problem caused by myself, my handling. Doesn’t help that I’m a novice handler and she’s overly sensitive to the slightest thing. She thinks too hard and tries too hard to get things right.

        • Yes, I fixed your links, you forgot V in httpV. I think measuring jumps in a straight line, running from one tunnel to another as in your video, can’t be caused by handling (as there is not much handling involved). I think it must be pain/discomfort, a memory on pain or eyes. Did you notice she would do it more in particular light conditions (getting dark or sharp sun with sharp shadows)? If it depends on jump height though, it sounds more like the pain as the eyes.

          • She wasn’t measuring the jumps in the vid I posted but those were on medium…she does have a bambi style jump but she was always like that even at flyball. I haven’t noticed a difference in light and measuring so far…only height. She used to measure medium more but it ironed out with time. I’ll post another vid of her doing a course and jumping standard…this is where she went offcourse…the hurdle was right next to the tunnel and she chose the hurdle. I know my handling is awful…I suppose you’ve seen it all before, lol. She measured the hurdle before the offcourse one and the offcourse one mainly here. I added the v this time…don’t recall having to do that previously which is why I got it wrong…hoping it works.

            httpV://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7KMedjCBqU

            • Maybe it’s just confidence? If she got better on medium, keep jumping her on medium for now and then VERY slowly bring the jumps up again (by 3cm at the time). How fast did you add the height? Bambi style jump as you call it :) often comes from the fact the bars are raised too quickly and the dog is “over-impressed” by the jump and “over-prepares” for it -- maybe measuring the jumps have the same roots with her? It’s important the dog is completely confident and relaxed about that bar to be able to stretch more. Stretching out helps a lot as not only they cover more ground that way, they can also jump much lower as those dogs with legs tucked under them.

              • Thanks very much for your help. She was jumping medium for months before I put her up to standard. She seemed to manage ok with standard but not when we put the bar to full height. On the hurdles at the club, there’s only 5 holes for the heights, micro, small, medium, standard and full height…so no choice but to raise by 10cms each time on those:( I have a couple of hurdles at home that I can set on any height but space is very limited.
                When she did flyball, she started off with hurdles at 7inch high. She jumped like bambi over those…i have photos of her where she’s jumping way higher than she needed to over those 7″ hurdles and some of the other team members used to laugh at her. As she was a height dog, the highest she jumped hurdles in flyball was 13″. I can raise one of my legs and have her jump that and this is higher than agility full height yet she soars over no problems. I was thinking it was confidence. Took a while to get her confident to do vaults…she’d do them whilst I was leaning against a wall but when I tried to move a cm away from the wall, she knew and would no longer vault…she’s ok now mind…but Wren is much more confident than her with jumping…Wren vaults much higher…she’ll vault off your neck or face if you’re not careful:P Poor Sleet, she does try her best.

                I see I still didn’t get it right with that vid too:P

                • Yeah, it’s too much of a difference between medium and standard… Most wings are heavy enough to hold a bar without a bar cup if you squeeze them well together -- you can try that. I would also do some jumping exercises, like setting the jumps so that she needs to bounce them and then spreading them out more and more so that she needs to stretch more and more to still bounce them.

                  And yes, it should be a small v in the video link :)

                  • Thanks again…other people have also suggested that last idea too…need to get it tried out. The only other thing I can do regarding the height is put one bar cup on the medium hole and the other end on the standard hole so that the bar is slanted slightly but i’ll see if the bar will hold doing it the way you said.

                    Yes, I did think about that v, lol….I’m such a divvy.

    • Oh, there are many different tricks that we do for strengthening and we also do exercises on a ball, hiking up and downhill every day, sprinting, swimming etc. I think it’s very important part for agility dogs, to keep them fast and injury free until an old age. I’ll address it to more details on my upcoming DVD on speed: Ready, steady, GO! :)

  7. Hi Silvia

    Happy New Year!

    I wanted to ask you what you thought about jumping technique training (like what is taught by Susan Salo? -- jump grids forcing the dog to bounce rows of jumps etc). My club is in a phase of this at the moment and I’m not sure what to think of it or if I should join in. My dog Bigi has good technique naturally, but Sen is a real bar knocker (she doesn’t care about hitting them, whereas the other dog does). One problem with the training is it requires the dog it do it slowly in the beginning, otherwise they just fall over bars?

    Thanks, Nicole, Bigi + Sen

    • Huh, I actually don’t know this program well enough to have an opinion on it… For bar knocking, the most important thing is to find out a pattern on when and why she knocks. Straight line, turns or curves? Jumping too late, jumping too soon? Most dogs I saw knocked bars when they got a new info on where to go after the take off. Bu will ALWAYS drop a bar in this situation, so she sure trained me well to give my info early :) Bi is never knocking bars in turns, but will do so in straight lines as she has such a long stride that she has hard time fitting a normal length stride between two jumps and often comes too close and knock it with front feet. Making jumps look “stronger” to make a bigger impression on her, like using lots of double jumps (she never knocks those!), clothes and buckets on bars etc. made her pay more attention to jumps and prepare more instead of just crashing into them. For a dog who is taking off too early (and is too impressed by the jumps already), something like this would be contra-productive… That’s why it’s so important to know the Why first.

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