For anyone who has trained several dogs, and looked back at how you began, it's inevitable to stop and wonder , "How did (fill in the blank, first dog's name) do it?"
Willy was the first dog I trained for agility, Rudy and Kittie quickly followed before I was even competing with Willy, so they all pretty much started together. We didn't have jumps for the longest time, just 6 stick in the ground weave poles, no contact equipment of any kind, not even a training plank. We had no contact criteria of any kind, just run down the contact, screech to a halt at the target that no one ever really trained them to touch and get a cookie. My poor dogs had never even seen a wing jump, panel or broad jump until their novice debut, yet they did OK. Kittie managed to walk away after her first trial (3 days at the IX center in Cleveland) with her NAJ and 1 0r 2 legs toward her NA, thinking back, she must have been pretty slow, how else could we have managed?
Kittie's the only one of my original dogs still running, and she certainly has limitations due to her start and lack of foundation training, but she's come a long way and tried to make up for her limitations with enthusiasm!
When Abby started I had more experience, but still no where near enough. I really let Abby's wild enthusiasm push things along way too fast, and didn't proof each step enough. She's a really fun dog to run and certainly keeps me on my toes.
And now there's little Indy. The focus with her has been foundation, lots and lots of work on her foundation, and I have to say I've been pleasantly surprised lately. Thanks to months of foundation work, she's understanding things practically before I teach them to her, if that makes any sense.
We're taking our time with contacts. Her dogwalk is coming along nicely but for the first time ever, I'm actually nervous about training a running contact. I love Indy's teeter, she's been on different teeters, on different surfaces and she's handling it all really well.
I just started her jump training, and I have a new problem.....she has yet to hit a bar, not a bad thing by any means, but typically in their early training you can use the occasional knocked or ticked bar to teach them that it's important to keep bars up, just by withholding a treat. Still, I think I'll take no knocked bars over lots of them any day!