Agility vs. Herding Part II

In an earlier post I spoke of the possibility of bringing up a puppy to do both agility and herding. I referenced a page written by a stock dog trainer detailing what a caregiver should be doing with the puppy prior to it coming in for stock training.

Here is a list of the behaviors an agility puppy should have mastered by the time it is a year old:

  • Fast Sit
  • Fast Down
  • Stay
  • Off-leash control
  • Pop up into a sit from a down
  • Their name
  • Clicker-savvy
  • Must have either food or toy drive – both is greatly preferred
  • Touch their owner’s hand
  • Touch a plexiglass plate (or other target) on the ground
  • Line-up (sit in heel position next to owner) off BOTH sides
  • Start-line stay (a stay in front of a piece of agility equipment)
  • Jump-come-cookie (or tug) around jump on floor/low bar – both front-cross and post turn
  • To stand on the table for measuring
  • Greg Derrett circle groundwork – on the outside of the circle at a minimum (bonus points for outside of the circle
  • Front-cross on the flat (“on the flat” means not over an obstacle)
  • Rear-cross on the flat
  • Through very low tire
  • The chute
  • The tunnel (depending on your training philosophy with tunnels)
  • The table as a good place to be
  • Walk over teeter board
  • Able to bang teeter board or alternatively needs to be conditioned to teeter noise
  • Exposed to board moving under feet – low teeter, boogie board, etc.
  • Have a contact training plan for some form of two-on/two-off and be working on the basics
  • Running over low contacts (depending on your training philosophy)
  • Weave pole entries
  • How to ride in the car
  • How to be a good puppy at the agility trial (after 6 months old)
  • Focus work under distracting conditions
  • Tricks to use for focus/relaxation while waiting to go into ring
  • A word or phrase that jazzes them up (“Ready, Steady, Go”, “Get the Squirrel”, etc.)
  • How to stay in a crate quietly
  • Right and left
  • Be good socially with other dogs
  • Tolerate or like children (they are often leash runners or bar setters)
  • Be exposed to hats and clothes on all types of people
  • Have crates and tents put up and taken down in close proximity of them
  • Allow someone other than “Mom or Dad” hold them on a leash and by the collar and touch and play with them

I haven’t looked at this list in a while and I’m very pleased that Fern already knows most of the behaviors. That and a strong interest in stock at five months old, I’d say she’s doing darned good. Do I feel like I’m pushing her beyond what she can handle as a “puppy?” Heck no! Fern is like a sponge, the more she can learn and do, the happier she is. She can work on all of the above with me, go around sheep and ducks and still have time to be a puppy. I don’t think there’s any relevance in the term being “just a puppy.” There are plenty of plain old puppies running around, I don’t want a plain old puppy, I want a performance partner. That’s something that you need to foster, essentially, from day one.

Yesterday I put Fern on my group of lambs in an approximately 100 x 100 fenced-in area. These lambs are not terribly dog-broke and I wasn’t sure if (1) they’d challenge her (they didn’t) or (2) if she could cover them (she did). I was really impressed with how she worked them. Gel was not happy that he was on the outside looking in while I was in there with Fern. A little bit of jealousy is a very good thing for Gel.