Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is Dog Agility?
2. What is A Reactive Dog?
3. What is The Premack Principle?
4. What are Channel Weave Poles?
5. What does 'HA! (Don't) Lose, MOVE! mean?
6. What is the Happy Game?

1. What is Dog Agility?

Dog agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off-leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles.[1][2][3][4][5] Consequently *the handler's controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.
In its simplest form, an agility course consists of a set of standard obstacles, laid out by an agility judge in a design of his or her own choosing on a roughly 100 by 100-foot (30 by 30 m) area, with numbers indicating the order in which the dog must complete the obstacles.
*Courses are complicated enough that a dog could not complete them correctly without human direction. In competition, *the handler must assess the course, decide on handling strategies, and direct the dog through the course, with precision and speed equally important. *Many strategies exist to compensate for the inherent difference in human and dog speeds and the strengths and weaknesses of the various dogs and handlers. [Wikipedia]

*(the stuff I didn't realize before we started!)

See Also: Blog Entry: What the Heck is Dog Agility? Nov. 2010

2. What is a Reactive Dog?
According to Leslie McDevitt in her book 'Control Unleashed' (http://controlunleashed.net/):
"Reactivity comes from anxiety, which comes from feeling uncertain about something. Reactivity is an information-seeking strategy. A reactive dog will rush toward something or someone that he is uncertain about, barking, lunging, growling, and making a big display. People sometimes perceive reactive behavior as aggression, but a reactive dog is not rushing in to do damage; he is attempting to assess the threat level of a given situation. His assessment strategy is intensified because he is panicking as the adrenaline flows through his body. If a reactive dog learns to feel confident about something, he is less worried about that thing and therefore reacts less to it. Reactive dogs are anxious, and their response is intense because they are freaking out."
3. What is 'The Premack Principle'?
Many modern trainers use this theory in their training programs. The Premack Principle states that what the dog wants to do (called a "high-probability behavior") can be used to reinforce what you want the dog to do (called a "low-probability behavior")

4. What do you mean by Channel Weave Poles?

A set of Weave Poles in which every other pole can be pushed away from center. These are used as a training aid and give the dog a wider channel to weave through as they are learning. When the dog is comfortable weaving through the wide channel, the poles are then moved closer and closer to the center and eventually are "closed" creating a solid line of poles.
Open Channel Weaves

Open. Imagine the dog running along the center strip.
5. What does 'HA! (Don't) Lose, MOVE!' mean?

Linda & Jessica developed this mnemonic to help us remember the 6 cues we use in Agility:

HA! (Don't) Lose, MOVE!

HA - Hands & Arms
LO Location
S - Shoulders
E -Eyes
MO Motion
VE Verbal

6. What is "The Happy Game"?

Linda devised this as a way to make Agility more fun for Gilda since she was getting so stressed in class and in practices.

We started by standing about 10 feet apart. We took turns happily calling to Gilda using her name and an enthusiastic voice. When Gilda responded by coming to us, she got a treat, and immediately she was called to the other person.

Once this made sense to her, we began moving so that an obstacle was between us. Again, we would call Gilda using only her name and a happy voice. If she performed the obstacle before reaching us, she was given a treat and the other person would immediately call her back. If she missed the obstacle, she did not recieve a treat but was still called by the other person (a neutral response).

The rules of the game are simple:

1. There are no commands given and no Obstacles named. The choice is the dog's.

2. The game is upbeat and happy regardless of what the dog chooses.

3. The dog receives a treat only when the obstacle(s) are performed.

This game was like a miracle cure for both Gilda and I! It helped both of us remember that Agility, above all else, is F-U-N! It is a good way for the human team member to practice their neutral response.