5 Tips for Trialing with Your Novice Agility Dog

5 Tips for Trialing with Your Novice Agility Dog post image

These 5 tips will help you create a fantastic start to your dog’s agility career!

5. Train a solid start line stay before the show. You may not have access to the same equipment or running surface that will be at the trial, so your dog may refuse a panel jump or step on a broad jump or slip and drop a bar (and that’s okay as they will soon generalize behaviors to different equipment). However, among all the behaviors we teach in agility, a start line stay is not equipment-dependent and can be proofed to a very high level before setting foot in the ring. Trusting your dog’s start line behavior will let you focus on your handling and reduce some anxiety that you may feel at the start of your dog’s first run.

4. Make sure your dog commits to every line/obstacle. In particular, experienced handlers will often take a novice dog’s commitment point for granted, leaving obstacles quickly to move into certain positions, as they would with their veteran dog.

3. Utilize your novice dog’s strengths (as well as your own). If you often err during rear crosses, use a front cross instead, even if it creates a wide turn. There will be plenty of runs in the near future to introduce and proof skills in a trial environment.

2. Have a few play/work sessions during the trial, especially after each run. If there is a long break between two runs, consider having a short, intense play session in between. These play sessions will provide the exciting reinforcement your dog craves for the work they’ve done in the ring.

1. Commit yourself to creating a fun, exciting environment for your novice dog from the moment you wake up to the moment you leave the trial site. A great experience, regardless of performance, will fuel your dog’s enthusiasm and motivation for years to come!

We discuss all these tips and more in this week’s podcast!

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