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And They Call It Puppy Love: Doing Whats Best For Our “Agility Prospects”

Posted on 11/29/14 9 Comments

9wks teddy

Did you know that you can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to train your agility dog based on what you teach him as a puppy? Not only that, but you can better prepare that dog to avoid injury over their 5-10 year career, based on what you do in the first 5-10 months of your training with them.


Enter the “Puppy Path”

I am so convinced of the impact that early education for puppies destined for the agility ring has, that I included an entire “Puppy Path” section in my Handling360 course. Our Puppy Path is loaded with instructional videos of my favourite puppy exercises…I am sure I could have made this a course all on its own!

The focus of our “Puppy Path” is what I consider the three key areas of emphasis for any brilliant foundation in dog training.

1. The Recall:

Of course nothing is more important than a skill that can save our dogs lives!


2. Body Awareness:

There are more than 20 in H360 videos focusing on: balance, flexibility, proprioception and strength.puppy_yoga2

 3. The Retrieve:

Training is not fun for all if the dog does not happily bring the toy back !


Interested? Learn more about Handling360 here. 

Focusing on these three key areas is investing in the brilliance of your puppy’s agility future. Of course this section of our prograis not JUST for puppies. I know all dogs will benefit from going back and putting their best paw forward. That’s why many of our current H360 students have done just that, starting on the “Puppy Path” while they are working through other areas of our course. It is all just more education for the dog, and that is never a bad thing.

What About “Muscle Memory” Or the Importance of Running Sequences?

I see so many videos of people running puppies over agility equipment or through sequences with the bars on the ground. I can’t help but think this is because they haven’t thought of enough other things to focus on with those puppies. That is what lead us to create our “Puppy Path”. Sequencing, weaving and contact training can wait until your puppies are better physically prepared. Personally, my puppies don’t see their first ever weave poles until they are 14-15 months old. The start their first sequencing work with agility equipment at the same age or older, depending upon the puppy and only get on any contact equipment as they are nearing their first birthday.

Focusing on those three keys with my puppies, AWAY from actual agility equipment hasn’t held my dogs back…my last five dogs were all winning in the agility ring long before their 2nd birthday sticking with those “thrilling three.” 

What is the rush? There is so much FUN! to be had with our puppies and young dogs that prepare their bodies and minds long before they need to be doing any actual “agility”. Not only is it a blast to do with the dogs I believe it is always a good  investment into a long and healthy agility career for my dogs.

If you think this looks FUN, we shared our first lesson in foundation class in this eBook. Click here to go get your free copy!Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 11.59.47 AM

An amazing agility foundation creates an amazing agility future. The best way to “fix” agility challenges is to lay down a foundation that avoids them! Handling360 is all about foundation, a foundation created away from the agility field! You can become a member of our H360 community by clicking this link now, but only until the end of this week… as we close registrations to focus on helping our students become the best they can be.

 decaff seminar 14 wks

Today I’m grateful for the path in my dog training life that guided me to the importance of breaking down every skill into small training games for puppies, adolescents and mature dogs to help build the confidence to shine in any sport in life!


  1. Joyce Taylor says:
    Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 7:28am

    I train an mini aussie for my granddaughter he does not live in my house. He is 13 mos old and does very well in class. He does everything he is asked to do. I trained the 2×2 weaves which he has great weaves. My problem is when he gets to trials he acts like he has never seen an agility course in his life.. Will not do any of the obsticals jumps or contacts. What would you suggest I might try.
    Thank You Joyce Taylor


  2. Sabrina W says:
    Monday, December 1, 2014 at 10:54pm

    It is an interesting topic and it helps many pet lovers about to take their dogs to agility test to be more responsive to environment. Your post helps me a lot.


  3. pet lovers says:
    Monday, December 1, 2014 at 6:37am

    Wow! these are simple training tips to keep in mind for pet lovers to keep agility of their dog in mind. We need to train our dog better and make him active to save also. Thank you.!


  4. Deb D says:
    Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 7:44pm

    Puppy path came along at the perfect time for Luna and I. The boys benefited from revisiting some of the things we don’t do often enough as well


  5. Mara says:
    Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 4:36pm

    Interesting read! I’ve followed the same basic idea with my pup who is in training for SAR work. Learning games, body awareness, fun with foundational obedience (including several recallers games!), fun and simple puppy searches. He’s only 8 m/o so not a success story yet but, at this point, I couldn’t be happier with how well he’s doing. Just happy to work with me and eager to try new stuff.


  6. Beth says:
    Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 11:54pm

    I’m interested in checking out more of your body awareness and puppy exercises. 🙂 I am wondering what you would suggest I purchase, or of you have something that you would recommend for me to look into I’d really appreciate any information! 🙂

    Beth and my new puppy Pi. 🙂


  7. Donna Ward says:
    Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 6:26pm

    I could not agree more Susan! I have an 11 month old pup that I halve followed Puppy Peaks and Handling 360- taking our time and laying the foundation for agility. He loves training and I see such great progress as we play games that translate to agility skills.


  8. Dianne says:
    Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 4:51pm

    A new family member will Join us on Dec 18. That is when I am flying out to bring our new puppy “Grit” home. With all the resources from Susan I am looking forward to laying down a great foundation for everyday fun and agility. Thank you.


    • Susan says:
      Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 5:34pm

      How exciting Dianne! Wowza!


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