Feature playing sit-stay games with distractions at 18 weeks.

Feature playing sit-stay games with distractions at 18 weeks of age.

To follow up on a post from last week, I want to clear up any misunderstandings, I am not suggesting you wait until your dog is three or four years old before you start trialing him in agility. Of my last three dogs, two of them where in the ring at 18 months and the other at 20 months. They were in the ring and performing brilliantly. Each of my last three have won a regional event or “big tournament” before they turned 2 years old. But hey, I have been doing this a very l-o-n-g time. NONE of those dogs were running sequences until they were 14-16 months (therefore I did no sequencing or course running with bars on the ground!). In addition, not one of those dogs got on a full dog walk or weave poles until they were 13 months old or older. The bottom line is let the dog’s skills dictate when you move forward.

A lot of dogs that I have seen that were started on equipment young (too young IMO) sadly end up with soft tissue or other career-ending injuries early on in their career. By spending time for the first year or so with “other” skills (aka foundation, foundation, foundation) you actually help to build muscles to support young developing joints and soft tissues, helping to protect these young dogs from serious injury.

I have a list I call the “Puppy Hundred” it has 100 things I teach my puppies that helps create a great family pet and lays down an amazing foundation for agility. I would say no more than 5 of these behaviours are on our “tricks” list this group came up with earlier in the year. What may shock you is that none of these skills involve any equipment or props related to agility (no plexi nose targets, no travel planks). I have yet another list of skills I will teach my puppy that are agility related but still do not involve any formal agility equipment (other than the table). That list is now close to 50 skills.

Eight month old Feature playing table games.

8 month old Feature playing table games.

If you have been counting along and have added up the puppy 100, the tricks and my agility foundation (without agility equipment) you realize I am talking about is a list of over 250 behaviours you can teach a puppy or young dog– none of which involves any agility equipment (except a table).

See how many you guys can come up with. We get as many as 7,000 people a day visiting this blog so lets hear from all of your lurkers! All of you that secretly pop by this blog but don’t like to admit it:), lets hear from you as well. Collectively we can create the monster list of puppy and adolescent skills!

I will once again post the completed list here on the blog at some point in the future. It will be a great reference as our tricks list as proven to be. I am hoping once we are done that I won’t have to see another youtube video with adolescent puppies on agility equipment!

So, lets hear it… What can or do you teach your puppy or young dogs in order to lay down a great foundation without involving actual agility equipment?

Oh yeah and if you want to really get a taste of how to start your puppy right, we just posted our latest puppy camp (Dec 18-20) on the website. See you there!

Today I am grateful for everyone that drops by this blog with the generosity of heart to share their knowledge with others.