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Get Started in Agility!

Get off to the right start at Creekside Canines where the training is POSITIVE and reward-based. Choosing the right agility instructor will set the course of your agility experience regardless of how far you decide to go in the sport. You want to make sure the instructor you choose has the right stuff. In my opinion, a good agility instructor should meet the following criteria:

1. Has put upper level titles on multiple dogs in either AKC or USDAA. Upper level AKC titles are MX (Master Agility), MXJ (IMaster Jumper) and MACH (Master Agility Champion). MX and MXJ titles may also have a B, S, G or C designation which signifies multiple instances of earning the title (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Centurion). Each of my dogs are listed with their titles in the About section.
2. Has extenstive experience with a wide variety of breeds and mixed breeds.
3. Whose students are competing, earning titles and having a blast with their dogs.

You will find all of this here at Creekside. I have a great deal of experience with many breeds and types of dogs and have put high level agility titles, including two Master Agility Champion titles, on 4 of my own dogs. I compete in AKC agility trials at least once a month so my training is up to date and always relevant. My students are also excelling in all levels of agility and I'm very proud of them. On top of all that, you will make new friends and become part of a whole new world where everyone is friendly and supportive.

Agility is for dogs of all shapes and sizes. It is for both mixed breeds and purebred dogs. Jump heights are based on the size of the dog. In AKC, jump heights start as low as 4 inches and go up to 24 inches. However, agility does require some athletic ability so your dog must be physically sound. See Safety of Dogs below for further info.

It's fun and easy. Your dog need not have any prior training! I used to do foundation classes in groups of 6 or 8 to cover the basics but I've found that owners and dogs succeed more quickly using a more personal approach. Here's how:

1. Half Hour Evaluation:   The first thing you'll need to do is come for a half hour evaluation. There will be no actual training during this session but rather I will get to know you and your dog so I can determine the best way to proceed. The cost of the evaluation is $25 payable at the time of the evaluation. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Lynn@CreeksideCanines.com.

Book an Evaluation

2. The Basics:   After the evaluation, you will need a few private lessons to learn some basics. Our goal is to have you and your dog ready to join my one of my ongoing novice classes and my Sunday Jumping class if you wish. While there are some things that all agility dogs need, what we cover in these private sessions will be geared specifically for you and your dog. You will also have access to some private training videos so you can work on a number of things at home. That will save you time and money as we can spend your private lesson time on things not covered in the videos and anything you may be having trouble with from the videos. You are welcome to partner up with a friend to share your private lessons with. This helps give the dogs a break as we can take turns working and also helps financially.

Cost:   Privates are $50 per hour for 1-2 dogs. If your dog is very young (puppies 8 weeks to 8 months or so), you may just want to do half hour sessions at $25. Private lessons are always payable at the time of the lesson or in advance. And yes, we do start agility training with very young puppies. Obviously they are too young to jump or work on actual obstacles but there is plenty of work to be done with any age dog before they do these things anyway.

3. Novice & Jumping Classes:   After a few privates, you will able to attend any of the ongoing novice classes and Sunday Jumping. Or you may choose to continue privately. This is up to you. Most students do some combination of both as time goes on. You can see the current class offerings and read about the punch card system here. Please note that the ongoing class schedule fluctuates throughout the year based on student schedules, weather and Lynn's competition schedule.  

Once again, the type of training done is POSITIVE, reward-based training. Dogs are never forced to do anything in agility. I am a strong believer in teaching dogs how to think for themselves which creates a more confident dog. Dogs are allowed to learn at their own pace and are rewarded for making the choices that we like. Just like children, every dog is different. Your dog may not progress at the same rate as other dogs. I embrace these differences and work with each dog as an individual.

SAFETY OF THE DOGS is my first priority. For this reason, we work "on the flat" meaning we don't put the dogs on obstacles until they've had this foundation (and in the case of young dogs, until they also are physically mature enough to safely negotiate them). We work on obstacle approximations such as boards on the floor, boards that wobble a bit, etc. We will be playing lots of fun games with the dogs to teach them that working/playing with you is fun and rewarding. We will also teach your dog jumping basics (bars on the ground for puppies) and tunnels which most dogs love. Dogs less than one year of age should NEVER jump full height. In fact, until growth plates close, they shouldn't jump anything higher than their hock.

(Video below is one of my students, Jennifer Jordan & Shelby, with their winning Novice Jumpers run at the Concord trial in November, 2014.)

I teach all my privates and classes on the assumption that everyone will compete. There are two reasons for this. First, the rules for obstacles are for the safety of the dogs and, as stated earlier, I make sure dogs are physically and mentally ready to safely negotiate them. Secondly, many of us who compete in agility had no intention of competing when we first started but ended up there! Either way, it's lots of fun for you and for your dogs and will help you develop a relationship with your dog unlike any other.

Sound good? Email me with any questions.