Spring is now here and if you haven’t already, it’s time to do some dog agility equipment maintenance. If you took the time to treat your equipment before winter, then you will be ahead of the game. If you live in a climate that allows for practice pretty much year round, now is the time to do some maintenance work before the big competitions start.
- Change the course Getting into a rut is easy to do if you work and just don’t have the time to change your courses every practice. Now is the time to make those changes for the new year. Not only that, you and your dog need new challenges as you become a better and stronger team. Go a little wild. You will never know what you can do if you don’t challenge you and your dog.
- Treat your wood Even if you stored your equipment over winter, it is always best to give all your equipment a once over. All wood surfaces need care, so check for cracks and splits that may need caulking. Repaint now if the contacts need them, or consider adding rubber contact coat!
- Check your edges and tape The best way to check for splinters is to wipe down all your surfaces with a clean rag. If the rag catches, get some sandpaper and sand the rough edges smooth. If tape is unraveling, completely remove and wipe the bar or weave with goo gone. Now your pole/bar is ready for new tape. Remember that dangling tape can get caught in fur and scare your dog.
- Add some color! If you need to replace your tape, now is a great time to consider changing colors, as well! We’ve got a wide selection to offer, and many of our obstacles come in color choices like vibrant blue, radical red, and sunny yellow. If you’re planning on adding a jump, using a variety of colors, shapes, and styles helps proof your dog for competition.
- Wipe down your tunnels check your tunnels for uneven wear and flip them. Vacuum them out if they’re dirty and furry. Wipe them clean with soap and water and put them in the sun in a dry spot to dry, fully extended.
Can you think of anything we missed that needs to be done for spring agility set-up?
You may wonder why there are so many different ways to teach the weave poles and the answer is fairly easy. Dogs learn differently and we keep finding better ways to teach them. The weave poles are the only obstacle in the AKC that have no practical use outside of dog agility. They are an obstacle that has to be taught not only to the mind but body of the dog as well. Dogs naturally jump and climb but not weave.
So just like some dogs are motivated by lettuce while others only really get excited by liver bits you have to work with your dog’s natural preferences and learning style. Some dogs do fabulously learning to weave using the 2×2 method and others do better in channels, or slanting weave poles. Some dogs need the help of wired weaves to get their muscle memory down or to stop them from popping out. There is the possibility that it is the trainer who understands one better than the other which translates to clearer communication with the dog. This allows the dog to learn quicker with one method over the other.
Regardless of which method you use, if you are having difficulties either with yourself or your dog, experiment. If you use stick in the ground weaves, it’s easy to change between methods! Just change the layout of your weaves and you’re good to go. If you are working with a trainer, ask them to help you work with another method first. Find the method that works for your team, you want happy weaves so use what makes you and your dog happy to weave.
Though pause boxes are not as common as the pause table in American competitions, the pause box is a great way to teach your dog the pause you will find in most agility courses. Plus, if you are short on room the pause box is a great space saving, easy transportable, and inexpensive alternative to a table.
Use it the same way you would a pause table in the middle of your course and teach your dog to stop, lie down and sit inside the box. In UKC competitions there can be the added challenge of distance. The handler has to stay behind or outside the marked area and send the dog to the pause box and perform the necessary position called for on that course.
It can be a very challenging obstacle as pausing is a problem for many dogs as agility is about running really fast and jumping for them. It is hard for them to settle for those few seconds, especially when a sit or down is required. Which makes it important to train the pause in a way that makes your dog enjoy the obstacle.
It can also be a challenge for a dog to “see” the box when they are running full steam. This requires training as well to a verbal command to help the dog “look” for the box, especially if you are competing in grass. Great fun with the help of toys or targets.
To make the obstacle even more challenging in UKC rules state that “the side of the Pause Box closest to the previous obstacle is the correct entry side, and the side closest to the next obstacle is the correct exit side, which the dog must use to receive full credit for the Box. This means you will have to train your dog to change angles inside the box! All great training even if you and your dog never see a pause box.