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Has anyone on theforum tried or thought about trying agility training with their V? If so, I'd love to hear your experiences.

I just finished a 6 week Beginner's Agility Program with Hally (my 9 month Vizsla) which was absolutely AMAZING! In my opinion, the Vizsla's energy combined with their strong desire to please "their human" and their intelligence make them wonderful agility dogs. Hally was the only V in her class and was also the youngest dog, but BY FAR - she was the best . She caught on to what I wanted her to do (go through a tunnel, go over a jump) instantly and was doing combinations of things when the rest of the class was still working on their dog doing the first thing!

The other thing that I LOVED about agility was the approach used in training the dogs. The entire program was based on a behaviour shaping/positive reinforcement method. So basically, there were no cues given by me (either verbal or nonverbal) about what I wanted her to do. She had to figure things out all by herself....it was amazing watching her problem solve to work for me (if she did the behaviour I wanted, she would be given a treat).

All in all it was a great way to have fun together, work on our relationship and get some energy out of her...a winning combination! :)
 

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Congrat's to both you and Hally.
Having structure and a goal in training is always better than indiscriminate training. The dog and the handler have a purpose.

You should be very proud of your accomplishment. ;)
 

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Yes! We LOVE agility. It has everything - speed and jumping and using your brain (both handler and dog) and lots of rewards. Merc loves it and when we were standing around the agility equipment he used to whine at our instructor until she used him as the demonstration dog for whatever we were about to do.

Most of the training I've done with Merc is based on clicker training and shaping - once I got used to doing nothing and he got the idea that he should be doing something it worked really, really well. I think it's a great approach for dogs that need to do something with their brains and not just their body. It is really fascinating watching them trying to work out what it is you want - first trying the easy stuff like sitting or lying down then putting their paw on something or their nose until they get the signal that they did the right thing.

Unfortunately for us, the place we were training is no longer operating and the other training club that i know of in our area doesn't do clicker training and whilst some of the trainers use a positive reinforcement approach, some of them still say things like "if he doesn't do it right immediately MAKE him do it" and I don't think it's fair on Merc (or fun for me) to change the rules at this stage. Hopefully I'll find some more people to train with.

I'd encourage people looking for something active to do with their V to try agility - you don't have to compete if you don't want but its still heaps of fun.
 

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Bodhi and I have been practicing agility with our local agility club for about 6 months. We also use the clicker and treats to identify and reward desired behavior. Bodhi picks up on all the tasks very quickly and he is amazingly fast.

Unfortunately, we stepped backwards in our training when he turned 11 months old. He really enjoys thieving other dog toys and baiting other dogs to chase him. He knows he is the fastest and can run every other dog into the ground with his speed and stamina. So... while doing agility tasks a light bulb will go off in his head to ditch the training and steal a dog toy from inside someones car or from one of the unsuspecting handlers pocket, and take off for the chase. At first all the handlers and teachers were amused by the behavior, it is very fun to watch, but I believe we enabled him even more... Now Bodhi runs the course with a 20 ft ribbon like lead to reel him in if tries to be a thief.

Anyway, I think "V's" are a natural for agility with their intelligence, speed and athletic abilities. It is getting Bodhi's undivided attention that is sometimes a bit challenging for me. Even if he doesn't become top agility dog in the field, he will always be the best looking ;).

Some photo's for those who don't know what agility is all about...





 

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Merc used to do a victory lap too! He'd come through / over the last obstacle and instead of coming to me for his reward would do a high speed lap of all the other dogs and would get them all wound up and excited too. Just think it shows that food is not always the reward they're looking for.

It was funny to watch though which of course, like Bodhi, just made it more fun for him. I swear Merc loves attention so much he has worked out just how to get the maximum amount in any given situation.
 
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