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We have a 5.5 month old boy who is very active. We've been looking at ways my daughter can do additional training and the like with him. She's decided she likes the look of agility (we've been observing a training class at the place where his Puppy II class is held).

How old should a puppy be before starting agility? Do you have advice on finding a good trainer? Any and all input welcomed!

Thanks in advance.
 

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Loving Flyball
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My Filly's breeder starts the puppys around the equiptment as soon as they are able to investigate it. There are so many little groundwork things that you can do for agility, that in my opinion, it is never too soon. Teaching things like end contact behaviors ect will really help you farther down the road:)
 

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Just dont have him jumping. I did agility with DaVinci my toller/cross and he had such bad HD by the time he was a yr old. I think he would have HD anyways but I will never know if the jumping he did at 6-7mos contributed to it.

You can lay the poles on the ground so that he learns he must go over them. Also training him to sit and wait for you to walk out in front would be a good thing. Lots of ground work can be started early.
 

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Kristy
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Mack (6 months old) and I got our AKC STAR puppy certificate last month and we had a wonderful instructor (Tina at Charlotte Dog Training Club). She brought out all kinds of agility equipment for our pups to go over, around, under and through. It was big fun.

She was very encouraging for us to start the beginning agility class, so I will get us signed up for January. It will give us a start on laying the foundation and groundwork so that by the time he is approaching age two and is grown up enough, we will be well on our way. I think you ought to start looking for training clubs in your area... :)
 

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New Mommy
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This is very interesting because no one around here will allow me to do agility with Jordan until she is a year old. Both of her parents owners, who are big into agility, agree. We are doing some basic stuff like tunnels and pause spots. But no jumping, weave poles, etc. We are about to start a Teamwork class, which is a preagility training thing.
 

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Loving Flyball
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I don't jump full height until after OFA x-rays are done. Like GENERAL V stated, poles on the ground when they are little, since all that is about direction anyway. With my last 2 dogs, I did 1 inch a month for the first year, then sat at 12" for a while, they weren't jumped over 18" until they were 2 years old and x-rayed. I just saw no point, since it would a long time before I showed them anyway.

For weaves, I started both of them on channel weaves after they turned 2, because of their immature spines. Now that I have been trained on how to teach 2x2 weaves, I would probably do the begining of that, just to teach a puppy entries, but still not do full weaves until later.

I am sure there are lots of theories out there though, it will be interesting to hear from Sammydog.
 

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They get it
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I am sure there are lots of theories out there though, it will be interesting to hear from Sammydog.
That's what I was thinking, however I'm pretty sure she will agree with what has already been said. Wait until they are fully developed to start the weaves and jumps of any height.
 

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I tell my puppy owners, 2 years before jumping and A frame things. Otherwise, get a pointer...
 

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Barley & Mira's Mom
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There are lots of things you can do with puppies! But no big jumps and weaves! Anything you can teach your pup will be good, you want them to learn how to learn, and think training is fun! Any puppy class is a good start!

I think the proper age to start the "big dog" stuff is going to be different for each dog/owner/situation. Mira had prelim x-rays done at 12 months and they looked good and the vet said she would be fine to start more training. I started jumping her full height and teaching the weaves at 15 months. In the past pups were eligible to compete at 12 months, so many were jumping and weaving earlier. Now they cannot compete until 15 months.

As far as formal classes, we started them at 6 months, the club I went to does not do any big jumps or contacts with ANY new dog, so it is safe for a puppy.

In my area there are a number of places that have puppy specific classes designed for young dogs. Some are agility specific some are intro to dog sports type classes. The best way to find out what is in your area is to go to a local agility trial and go find some Golden people! There is a trial on December 16-18 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.

A few puppy things from when Mira was 12 months

Walking over a plank


Wobble Board


Low jump
 

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Anything like ladders, tunnels, wobble boards, sea saws very low, and boards to walk on I think are fine. Any thing high off the ground and jumps I say wait until the dog is 2. There are plenty of other obedience things to teach them when they are young that are a lot of fun!
 

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I definitely err on he side of neurotic.... When it comes to jumping,etc.
 

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Having said that, mine jump from chair to ottoman ,etc as pups. And go up and down hardwood stairs. What they do not have is enforced exercise or jumping!
 

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Loving Flyball
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I definitely err on he side of neurotic.... When it comes to jumping,etc.
I am also very anal on things. My dogs usually don't even get to jump out of my van!
 

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It is hard to stop them from jumping on and off everything, but if I am forcing my dog to do something I know could harm him or her, then that is different. (like jumping a agility jump vs. skipping the last step on the stairs)
 

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New Mommy
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Wait, now it's 2 years?? What happened to 1 year? I am going to make someone else tell this to Jordan. :(
 

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I did lots of baby things with Piper. Wobble board, baby teeter, board leaned against the coffee table to work on 2o2o. Tried to work on teaching her verbals like go, here, turn, etc. Didn't start teaching weaves until over 18 months (did the 2X2 method-would be been happy to start the basics as a puppy, but she warned against doing that because you shouldn't stay at any one level very long, plus it goes so fast anyway). Started jumping her at about that time too. By the time she was two, she had her first novice legs!

I had to/am trying to work a fine line between not waiting too long and waiting long enough because of her elbows. I worry that if I wait until everything is perfect (her basics are good, but she's still green) her elbows will have gotten to the point that agility isn't fun/safe for her anymore, but then I worry that if I don't wait/train longer that it will take us more time to actually get the titles...
 

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Barley & Mira's Mom
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Didn't start teaching weaves until over 18 months (did the 2X2 method-would be been happy to start the basics as a puppy, but she warned against doing that because you shouldn't stay at any one level very long, plus it goes so fast anyway).
I don't do the 2x2 method, but I still totally agree with this. I do not start the weave poles until I am ready to train them completely. I don't like the idea of a puppy running through a channel of weaves or just making an entry for months until they are ready to train. I think it gives them an unrealistic view of what the obstacle is supposed to be. I also don't like to stay at one step too long, once they have it move forward!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you all--this is great information.

I wonder if there is a book anyone would highly recommend? I looked on Amazon and see quite a few.

At our next puppy class, I'm going to speak to the trainer of the agility class in the next room.

Thanks a lot everyone! :heartbeat
 

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Gabby started at about 6 months. Like people said there is a lot of things you can do. Contacts were LOW so the dogs could walk on them. Jumps were 8" or lower. Gabby is now 14 months old and I still only jump her 12". I figure I will go to 16" after the first of the year. I am in no hurry. Jump height will not be her problem so I want her joints to have all the help they can get.

A lot of puppy classes are obstacle familiarization, then they have a focus class still mostly for pups. Older dogs are in the class too but usually the same level.
 
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