Thursday, December 11, 2014

Puppy- young athlete - super star of agility

There has been a lot of debate about training with puppies and young dogs. Lots of videos has been shared and talked about how too young dogs take part of competitions or are trained with very complex parts in agility. So what is the right age for training? I have really thought about is many times.  I start training my puppies on the first day they come home. First teach them work with clicker and then use shaping to get behaviors that I want. As long as teaching is fun and it done in small amounts I only see this as a beneficial for a puppy and I.
Then comes the specific sport training like agility. When is the right time to start and what is appropriate training for different age levels? I don’t think there is right answer to this. I think it is import to see a puppy as individual because puppies can develop in very different ways. I really have had two really different bordercollies at this point. Pixies body was well developed the whole time she grew. She just got bigger and bigger. Freya on the other hand had lots of trouble with her body and she grew super fast to her full height. She needed to have physiotherapy to make her function normally. You need to have good eye and support team to make as good as you can have to you puppy.
Debate on training with younger dogs, is some times hard follow, because you don’t know which words and sayings means to everyone. I think the most dangerous thing is to have a famous person /trainer post a video of advance training video. Most of the dog owners are really clueless about dogs physics and what is normal movement and so on. This leads to over training and doing things that the puppy might not be ready for.  New dog owners don’t have the skills and knowledge to keep training session short and do things that are easy enough for the dog. Fancy videos don't always show the work and the little steps behind needed to be done to get this point. Amateurs can take it easily as an example and just do seen exercise without seeing his/her dogs skill level. 
One thing to consider is that do I train agility if I train basic skills with pillows, boxes, rock etc.? Or is agility training if I use agility obstacles as training tools? I think everything that I teach the dog that has end goal use in agility is agility training. For example I teach a puppy to use its rear end so that it has an idea of 2on2off position later on. I built a training plan to each sport and think which are the basic building blocks that the dog needs when it grows up. 
One of the building block is dogs body control and physical on condition. This is the whole base to every sport. This is something I value the most and this part of training must be done the whole life of the dog. One part of this work is physiotherapy. My dog go for treatment every month. For Pixie this very import so that she is able to give her best and also to keep her body function perfectly despite of her attack injury. Freya started to see physiotherapist from the age of 10 weeks. This has shown how she has grown and what are problem parts in her body. For me Freya has been an athlete from the day 1. My goal has been to give a change for her build a body that is strong as possible and give her body stimulation that helps keep it in a balanced stage. Agility dogs are the super athletes in dog so why not start the building from the day one. 
So should you train with you puppy? Yes, but you should always take one day at a time. Learn how your dog moves, learns and develops. Also take your time to know puppy so that you can really learn see how she develops mentally. This affects how training plan must be built. Take time to get information what is proper exercise  for your puppy at given age (I consider dogs as puppies for their first year of life) and also see your puppy as individual. Some puppies grow fast and some can take years to become ready for certain sports. Use physiotherapist help if you are unsure and from the professional you can get good help how to built up strong body for your puppy. Puppies can get hurt while running in woods or playing with other dogs so physiotherapy checks help you to keep puppy in balance even though something happens. 
This is somethings I have thought about training and young dogs. This is learning curve that never ends and every time I get a new puppy I need to forget the old things and see the new dog as own individual. Pixie was ready to go super runner. Freya needed learn to run after she got long legs and needed some help to become balanced dog. Next dog might be somewhere in between. Something that I have learned from Pixie and Freya listen, watch, learn, wait, seek of information, enjoy and in the end YOU are responsible of your dog. No one else. You make decisions. Remember your dog will do anything for you. Are you taking best care you can of your dog?


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