Author: Connie Sellers
Length: 160 pages
Release Date: December 2016
In Agility for Starters, Connie Sellers (a Grade 7 handler in the U.K. who specializes in training novice competitors) demonstrates everything you need to know to get started in agility. Whether you are completely new to the sport, or training a young dog, Sellers provides 101 exercises that take you through all aspects of the sport, including weaves, contacts, handling points, crosses, correct signaling (verbal cues and body language, left and right directionals, start-line stays, wing wraps, and more. The exercises require little or no equipment so that you can work through them on your own at home in 5- or 10-minute chunks of time. Each exercise has a clear focus and outcome.
The book also features training tips and advice from a host of world famous trainers, including Greg Derrett, Silvia Trkman, Denise Fenzi, Susan Garrett, Dave Munnings, and others.
Training for excellence takes a lifetime, but if you follow the exercises outlined in Agility for Starters, you will build the foundation for getting to your first competition in 101 exercises.
Sellers begins by explaining agility, the kinds of dogs and people it is best suited for, and what makes an ideal agility dog.
In Chapter 2, Before you Start, Sellers takes us through choosing a reward, giving advice on finding a toy your dog likes, as well as using food treats. There is also a training tip from Greg Derrett on reward structure.
Chapter 3 introduces us to the trilogy of learning. These are three stages of learning that can be used in a variety of training situations. Sellers takes us through how to teach these stages and then how we can use them to introduce the tunnel.
Chapter 4 moves on to forward focus. Sellers explains that in agility it is preferential that the dog runs ahead of the handler, showing us some exercises which will help to achieve this.
In Chapter 5, Sellers shows us how to teach left and right directional cues before moving on to Chapter 6, which focuses on putting together a sequence of jumps and a tunnel.
Chapter 7 progresses to teaching your dog how to successfully negotiate a fan of jumps, which shows your dog how to check his stride and turn.
Chapter 8 focuses on teaching a wait for the start line, which differs from your basic obedience wait as the dog must learn to be 100% reliable. There is also a trainer’s tip from Dave Munnings about our expectations and relationship with our dog while training.
In Chapter 9, Sellers shows us how to collaborate what we have taught the dog so far into a sequence.
Chapters 10 and 11 concentrate on introducing the long jump and tire. There is another trainer’s tip, this time from Lee Gibson, who provides us with some advice on considering the different paths that dog and handler take when running a course.
Chapter 12 teaches us how to negotiate collapsible tunnels.
In Chapter 13, Sellers shows us how to teach the dog to walk backwards. This helps to coordinate and engage the rear end and also strengthens and builds muscle memory, which is important in later training. Denise Fenzi then provides us with a training tip focused around fun.
Chapter 14 looks at foundation work for contacts. Sellers teaches us how to get the dog touching a contact target and stopping in a 2-on/2-off position.
In Chapters 15 and 16 we continue with the next phases of tackling the dogwalk and A-frame.
Chapter 17 moves on to the seesaw, explaining how to begin introducing this piece of equipment with a wobble board.
Chapter 18 shows us how to phase out the touch target for contacts.
In Chapter 19 Sellers addresses the weaves. She explains that while running, jumping, and balancing all come naturally to a dog, the weaves do not, and therefore must be carefully trained. Susan Garrett also provides us with a tip on her world famous weave method.
Chapter 20 focuses on wing wraps. Here we teach the dog to wrap around a jump wing encouraging the dog to check his stride and turn as tightly as possible. This chapter also includes a trainer’s tip from Silvia Trkman on wing wraps.
Chapter 21 looks at handling maneuvers such as front and rear crosses, as well as a trainer’s tip on motivation from Rosie Cavill.
Finally, in Chapter 22 Sellers covers everything you need for your first competition, including how you know you are ready to compete, what you will need, rules and regulations, and tips on walking the course.