My training is best known for fast, happy and healthy dogs, tight turns and of course, running contacts and tricks.
1. develop a firm and trusting relationships with your dog
2. properly condition your dog: my dogs’ minimum is 2 hours of off leash running in the woods per day + one all-day-long hike in the mountains per month
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 won at least 90% of my runs with La for years. 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
Hi again Silvia
I have been doing some further work with Sleet and full height jumps. She does general training on medium but I’m also doing short sessions with full height with 2-3 jumps now such as in the clips. I can get her to stretch her back legs out for a second at times but the measuring seems to be mostly ironed out which was the main issue. I even tried her over a straight with 2 jumps today….the worst set up for her and causes most measuring and she jumped the first with no measuring and only very slight before the second and she wasn’t jumping too early…I added a slowed down version of that clip.
She does knock bars still but she doesn’t seem to be worrying about that. She has been measuring more over jumps which are too low and jumping these better for a change. I know she still has a way to go but this is great for her…..just thought your opinion would be valuable….trying to get as many ideas as I can to try.
Definitely better yes, but still work in progress. You might want to audit March Foundations, we have several dogs in the class who had jumping issues but improved dramatically -- some of the ideas might help Sleet too!
That would be very useful…but I simply don’t have the money..I’m too poor lol:P
Anyway, my other girl Wren won into UK grade 3 yesterday. Won both the graded and combined agility and one of the graded jumping classes and came 2nd in the other jumping class. Quite a successful day. Many things are still a work in progress such as her contacts (We do stopped ones as don’t have the means to teach running) and forward drive. You may remember the video I posted a few months ago of her. Here she is yesterday…thoughts welcome.
LOL, don’t laugh too hard at the silly noises I make. You can also see Wren enjoying her favourite reward at the end of this one…grass. Not great to use for forward drive but nothing else gets her going like grass does:\
Cool, congratulations! You could still gain time by trying to teach her to extend more over the jumps rather as tuck her feet under her, so try to find a situation where she would extend (maybe a particular distance in the speedy straight line between two tunnels?) and then practice that to help her see how much easier it is to jump extended.
Thanks, I’ll see what I can do:)
You say that you win most your runs with La, although she doesn’t stay. I have a similar problem with my dog, if I leave him, he will stay there but he will be really slow on the course…Usually it takes him half the course to gain his normal speed…So I usually try to leave together with him, but most of the courses its nearly impossible, at least for me, I can’t figure out how should I handle the beginning of a course which is meant for a lead-out. Im not that fast, I know you are fast, but I bet La is still faster 🙂 Do you have any videos from courses that are tailored for lead-out, and you instead left together? Or is this problem maybe addressed in any of your classes?
Oh, there are many videos of La on YouTube, so you should be able to find many 🙂 Starting with the dog is just a question of getting used to it, so try it in trainings too and it will get super easy. Make sure you approach the 1st jump so that its wing is not on your way -- and then just run 🙂 It helps if the dog knows some verbals though (left&right, cik&cap, a push, come to hand) so that you can tell him where to go even if a bit behind for first few obstacles.
Thank you for the quick reply!
So nice to hear you say “it will get super easy”, although Im prepared for lot of work 🙂 I’ve been trying it especially in practices, since there I have multiple tries 🙂 Oh and so many times I’ve been knocking down jumps…
So do you use the same left&right for telling the dog which one of two jumps to take and for example turning the dog back to the original direction after a dog walk? And is push the same as go-go-go, just running forward, or push over the closest jump?
By push I actually meant backside of a jump -- we see it a lot in Europe and it helps a lot if the dogs can do it on a verbal. And yes, I use left&right as directionals also after DW and tunnels etc.
I just wanted to say..
Thank you SO much for all your help with Keira’s teeter training. After the class ended I went along with your method and it worked beautifully. I now have a super happy dog, and you have an ecstatic student 😀
Really, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help. Everything you tell me helps so much!
We just got back from our first trial in a few months, and here is how her teeter went 🙂
Ugh, I forgot to log in. So, anyway just know that that was my comment! Haha 🙂
Sayward, that’s great!!! So happy to see such an improvement in Keira’s confidence! Look at this happy face now!
I know I am SO excited. I can’t thank you enough for your help!
We are hoping to join your foundations class this October. Now that we have the teeter out of the way we just need to work on weave and speed problems haha 🙂
How are you? Well I hope. I just wanted to tell you how amazed I am at you and your dogs. I mean you guys are just extraordinary!
I notice one thing in particular. You are so fast! So fit! Just out of pure admiration…
What do you do for yourself? You always are talking about your dog’s conditioning and health. What about you?
Like are you on any special diet, like vegan, no carb, gluten-free, ect. ect. ect.
and What do you do to stay so fit? Is all you do is hike? Do you workout or anything?
Just wondered. You all make a lovely team. I am just hoping to keep my half of my team fit 🙂
Thanks! 🙂 But well, my dogs just make me look fast 🙂 They have very good commitment, so I can leave them much earlier as most people and it also allows me to keep running rather as stop and then accelerate from zero -- keeping the momentum sure help and makes me look faster as I actually am! I was never really a sport person, never played any other sports as agility and don’t workout, but I do go jogging in the woods with the dogs every morning -- I just love our woods 🙂 I was never on a diet and eat everything but meat, I don’t eat meat since I was 6. And oh, I only drink water and tea, I don’t like sweet drinks and/or bubbles -- but I do like cakes!!! 🙂
Haha wow, that’s all? You ARE amazing! 🙂
Really?! You sure do look super fast. I will definitely work on commitment then, that awesome.
So how long then do you jog/hike everyday? Like what might you recommend for someone wanting to stay fit for agility?
I know, all those pictures of your woods on your Dvds are just beautiful. I bet you guys almost never leave them! 🙂
So your a vegetarian too?! Same here! That’s neat, hehe.
But I assume you don’t worry about our weight or calorie intake or blah blah then? Do you ever worry about your protein or anything?
Thanks for such a quick reply!
Well, I don’t really think jogging helps with agility as it’s completely different activity… I do it just because I love it 🙂 I run about an hour to an hour and a half every morning and weekends, we often go hiking for the whole day. And no, I never worry about calories, proteins or whatever… I simply eat what I feel like eating 🙂 And I actually eat a lot, but obviously have good metabolism 🙂
Oh, okay I see what you mean! That’s great! I sure do wish we had good hiking around here, guess I’l have to get out and start looking. 🙂
That’s sure is nice, you must have a good metabolism! Everyone I know if constantly on some new diet, or watching their calories, or worried that I won’t get enough protein, ect. I’m glad it all works for you 🙂
Thank you for your time!
Ok, I just asked about weave entries in facebook lol…and thought I’d be better off coming here.
I started off at a club where foundations were very seriously neglected and the trainer seemed to just focus too much on jumping sequences that were far too complicated for us and not putting much effort into the fundamentals. As we were all new to agility, it was a case of us not knowing any better at the time….so now mistakes and damage has been done. A bunch of us left and, one couple got their own kit and field and we are training there and getting better advice from experienced handlers and going to training days etc…A lot of us have had to retrain many things and do a lot of work to try and rectify issues caused by the previous training….the videos I posted above of Wren show how this training didn’t benefit us all too well but she has gotten faster and more driven.
The weave entries are an issue for me still. I don’t get enough opportunity to work on it to be honest. I still have the set at home but they are the old spacing as our weave spacing changed. What would you recommend to retrain the entries into the weaves?
Here is a more recent video of Wren by the way.
Sleet is currently on a jumping course put together by Dawn Weaver and another trainer in the U.S for her early take-off and measuring issue.
Thanks in advance:)
Just open the channel and work on entries -- the spacing between poles doesn’t matter much with an open channel, so just use what you have! Great progress with Wren yes and I hope the targets help Sleet -- Devorah is my student, so I know the project.
Oh that great that you know the project:D Sleet still hasn’t realised that she should try and hit the mat each time but we’re working on it.
Thanks for the weave advice…will open it up a little….is there a best way to teach them good entry understanding with the channel open? I feel like I’m having to help them in a way that we aren’t progressing to them understanding it for themselves and are relying on me to show them…obviously my mistake..
I don’t help them at all other as restraining them from very easy angle first and then adding some more of an angle for every next try.
So if they start to make mistakes, you take a step back…I felt like I was doing that forever and that the dogs couldn’t get beyond a certain angle without making a mistake…I even used a keep going marker for when they got it right so that they knew….
Will get back to it and see how we go anyway. Sometimes things suddenly work out a second time after a break….
Also, do you have them running to a dead toy? Sorry to ask all these questions….just want to make sure I’ll be doing a better job this time.
Yes, I start with a static toy and then switch to a thrown toy once they drive forward well independently from my position/movement.
A quick one. Tili consistantly does her see-saw like this -- stopping just past the apex and waiting for it to tip before going to the end.
Is it just a confidence thing? I have been revisiting bang work, worked on a lower S-S, clicked getting to the end, releasing to chase a toy and going back to give a high value reward in the 2o2off. Her speed has increased slightly but there is still this stop -- any ideas? or do we just go on and I jackpot the faster attempts?
Ran the DW today for the first time after about a months break -- it blew away in a gale and I have only just put it up again -- WOW lovely deep hits with good seperation -- thank you.
Great, so cool!!!
Was it any better on a low see-saw? I would certainly lower it and then try to run it with a toy in front of her nose to lure her till the end and then reward big time if she drives straight to the end, even if she doesn’t hold the position. I would also try to switch to 4on, it might be more comfortable to drive till the end then.
It was much the same on the lower s-s. Will work on luring her to the end with JP when she drives there. She did in the begining so a preferance to 4on so will go back to that. Thank you.
Hi Silvia—do you have any advice for creating “more obstacle commitment”? This is what I hear our Stella needs.
I think what is going on is Stella is six now and we are learning more and more complicating handling and its fun and mostly she is brilliant when I am good and clear, but of course I am learning still and making mistakes and trying some things I am not sure of yet and she is watching me even more closely and trying to be even more sure “is this really the jump you want me to take? are you sure? wait, i’m not sure, is it?” And I think she does not like to be wrong and she is hesitating and pulling off obstacles… second guessing herself. Second guessing me…
Dinah and Bronagh and Stella
Do you have Foundations DVD -- it addresses commitment a lot. I would return to basic send&go some and practice moves without her to not confuse her and only put the two together when both is really good (your moves and her commitment).
I took your foundations class the first time you gave it… i was thinking maybe i had everything on the DVD in my notes, but by now probably not and buying the DVD will be a refresher and then some and worth the investment—i own almost all your DVDs : ) but I will go purchase this right now, because it isn’t worth the backsliding and eroding of her confidence to save money… as you well know it took a lot of work to build her confidence for RDW which then did spread to the rest of her love of agility and she is such a funny earnest dog! thanks--that makes sense to do thing separately first—great advice. THANKS!!
the DVD will be good for out puppy too, whenever he comes!!!!!
Yes, I think Foundations is the best DVD from all and really worth having…
The foundations DVD came! So far last night our cat has been fascinated to sit on my lap and watch (he has never shown interest before) your dogs demonstrating on my laptop! and i am taking notes… sometimes the written notes on the screen pass by too quickly… I have tried to screen capture, but so far that has not worked… well, we will be watching this many times
Ha ha, great! And yes, the DVD is quite packed with info… You can’t use “pause” to read the titles? -- I know some pass too quickly…
pause did not work, it just stopped the video altogether. and i’d have to go back and start that section over again. weird.
Hi Silvia, possibly this is the best page to post it, I wanted to ask for a very long time: Do you have any videos of Aiken and you running? 🙂
No, this was before the ere of digital media 🙂 But agility looked VERY different back then…
Where can I find your student’s coin in a small jar trick? did you post? This I have to see!
Yes, last graduation videos I posted (go to older posts) both show that. I’m also working on next To’s video that will show that too. 🙂 We also have some Graduates who can put a coin in a piggy bank!