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DogPACT Agility Training

Agility Training

This is a fun and exciting game where both human and dog participate. With the human half of the team directing the show, the canine half jumps over hurdles, balances a teeter-totter, climbs an A-frame and a dogwalk, runs through tunnels, and jumps through hoops.

DogPACT offers both private and group agility training. Our focus is on team building, having fun, and building a strong foundation of skills before asking dogs to perform more complex or difficult behaviors.  We specialize in taking a "behavioral approach" to agility training. That means that we use our extensive understanding of how dogs learn and apply that to the training of agility. As such, we strongly believe that a solid foundation of skills is critical for long-term success.

Recreational or Competition Agility?

Sandy Mae
White Spaniel Mix
Although not all our students choose to compete in the sport of agility, we teach all of our classes so that if you decide you want to go on to compete, you can. You won’t have to go back and retrain something later. Retraining is much more difficult than training it right the first time!

The majority of our students end up loving this sport so much that they go on to compete. We believe it is because we build such a strong foundation that people who never thought they could compete, do very well, and want to join their fellow students and friends in the competition ring.

DogPACT’s philosophy of building a strong foundation of skills for both dog and handler means that our classes are much different from a recreational agility class. Recreational agility classes usually focus on getting dogs on the equipment quickly, and they do not spend as much time teaching people the handling skills they will need later. This works really well for people who don't think they want to compete or who don't want a lot of homework. Recreational agility is great for a night out with your dog! DogPACT does not currently offer recreational agility classes.

DogPACT’s agility program starts by developing key training skills on the part of the human end of the leash. This includes skills such as clicker training for the precision and accelerated learning it provides, handler body awareness and positional cue understanding, and teaching you how to train simple and complex behaviors to fluency. Building a strong foundation prepares the team (human and dog!) for learning more difficult skills later, including how to perform the actual agility obstacles (Teeter, A-frame, jumps, weave poles, etc.) for the competition ring. Competition-style classes also require a fair amount of homework outside of the weekly class in order to be most successful.

Here is the route we suggest if you have never done agility before. You should already have taken basic pet manners classes with a positive reinforcement trainer so that your dog knows how to pay attention to you—in the presence of distractions—and to respond to cues such as Sit, Down, Come, Stay, Leave It, Settle, etc.

  1. Clicker Training for Agility

  2. Foundation Skills for Agility, Level I

  3. Foundation Skills for Agility Level, II

  4. Foundation Skills for Agility Level III+

  5. Novice Agility

Is Agility right for your dog, now?

Pretzel
Pretzel
Rat Terrior

There are some dogs for whom group classes are NOT appropriate. These include dogs who are reactive (overly stimulated, barking, lunging, etc.) and dogs who are aggressive with other dogs or people, or dogs who are extremely fearful.

  • Has your dog ever growled, barked, or lunged at a person, seemingly with the intent of scaring them away or biting them?
  • Has your dog ever growled, barked, or lunged at another dog, seemingly with the intent of scaring them away or biting them?
  • Does your dog get agitated or so overly excited in the presence of other dogs that you "can't get through to him" no matter what you do?
  • Is your dog extremely timid, avoiding people or other dogs, to the point where he struggles to hide and get away?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, a group class may not be a good learning environment for your dog.  Please Contact Us if you want help in deciding if a group class is appropriate for your dog.

When and Where

DogPACT Agility Training
T'ai, Siberian Husky
Owner: Desiree Snellema
Agility is a very popular sport. You might have to be on a waiting list for a class appropriate to your skill level. Some continuing classes is comprised of students who started with Foundation Skills together and have continued on, together, and are now at the advanced level. This is wonderful for building long-lasting friendships, but the downside is that many continuing classes are full. Make sure you get on our waiting list(s) soon.

A variety of group and private classes are held in Long Beach, near the San Diego Freeway (405) and the Bellflower exit. That location can also easily be reached from the San Gabriel (605) freeway. Classes range from beginner to advanced, on weekdays, evenings, and Saturdays (!).

There are also continuing intermediate and advanced classes held on Tuesday nights in Whittier (near Florence and Carmenita).

Once enrolled, you will receive detailed information about what to bring to class.
Enrolled students can also rent the agility yard in Long Beach to practice and hone their skills. A full set of agility equipment is available, and students can practice by themselves or with other DogPACT students on weekend evenings.

The cost is $20.00 an hour or $10.00 for 30 minutes.

Agility Classes and Workshops


Kiwi If you have taken classes before or are already competing, a DogPACT instructor will need to evaluate you and your dog before you enroll in a continuing class. This ensures that you and your dog will be in a class that fits your skill level. A free 15-minute [Private Skills Assessment] takes place in Long Beach.
Our agility classes range from pre-agility through advanced competition.

Set Yourself up for Success from the Start


Agility training is tons of fun. It also requires a ton of training. Start out right by doing your homework before launching your agility career with our Clicker Training for Agility class. We suggest:

  • Pet Manners: At least two pet manners classes with a positive reinforcement trainer (DogPACT teaches these privately and group classes through the City of Long Beach’s Parks, Recreation & Marine).  We suggest Pet Manners I and Pet Manners Fine Tuned.

  • Crate Games: Susan Garrett popularized “Crate Games” as a way to train a multitude of impulse control, drive, and motivation for agility. www.clickerdogs.com
    All of DogPACT’s agility classes incorporate Crate Games into the curriculum. Set yourself up for success and get this DVD and start training! www.cleanrun.com

  • Take it on the road! Practice training your dog at a variety of locations. Don’t go to the same old places you’ve always gone to. Dogs need a lot of practice in novel places in order to get used to working and playing with distractions going on.

  • Recall, recall, recall: Work hard at practicing Come! If your dog does not come when called, he/she will never be able to get off leash in agility classes, and we need them off of their leashes as quickly as possible. Leashes interfere with the cues we teach dogs in our Foundation Skills classes. Leslie Nelson’s Really Reliable Recall DVD is great. www.cleanrun.com

  • Dog Parks: If your dog goes to the dog park or dog beach, ratchet up your training! Dogs who play freely with other dogs have more of a challenge focusing in group classes because they want to go and play with the other dogs. If you need help with creating a training plan for this, contact us for a private lesson.

Clicker Training for Agility

Kiwi
Kiwi
Demonstratesa clicker game
Clicker training is a type of positive reinforcement training that clarifies for your dog what the exact behavior is that you want. DogPACT trainers have extensive experience in using this fun and effective method of training. Whether you use a clicker (a small plastic device that makes a clicking sound) or your own voice as the behavioral marker, you will learn how to improve your timing and reinforcement skills to make the learning experience fun and productive for your dog.

Prerequisites:

Clicker Training for Agility is not an obedience class. It is assumed that dogs will have attended prior positive reinforcement group classes so that they have experience working around other dogs and that they know Sit, Sit/Stay, Down/Stay, Come, Leave It, Crate training or Settle with distractions.

If you need to brush up on these skills before enrolling, please contact us regarding pet manners classes or private training so that you can start out right!

Clicker Training for Agility Curriculum:

  • The art and science behind training with a behavioral marker
  • Strategies for getting behaviors on cue (e.g., shaping, targeting, capturing, luring, etc.)
  • Applying clicker training to agility foundation behaviors
  • Strategic choice and delivery of rewards (toys, treats)
  • Focus and attention between canine and human
  • Creating a fun, working and playing relationship with your dog
  • Crate Games (teaches stay on the start line and release to work)*
  • Motivation and drive, including toy motivation (builds attention and speed)
  • Hand targeting
  • And more!

Clicker Training for Agility is a great class to prepare you and your dog for agility training, and it’s also a great way to learn some fun tricks, too!

*Dogs must be comfortable being in a crate. "Crate Games" are an important part of this class. You will need to bring your crate to each class. If your dog has a phobia about crating, you may choose to bring an exercise pen instead.

Classes are one hour per week for 6 weeks. The cost is $140.00.

Foundation Skills for Agility, Level I

DogPACT Agility Training
Kendra, Australian Shepherd
Demonstrates rear-end
awareness game
Owner: Vicky Lovejoy
This group class introduces both human and canine skills necessary to for the agility team. With a solid understanding of how to use positive reinforcement to get and maintain your dog’s focus on you, you are now ready to acquire agility-specific behaviors.

Prerequisites:

Clicker Training for Pet Manners and Sports, Clicker Training for Agility, or permission of the instructor, based on a private skills assessment.

Foundation Skills is not an obedience class. It is assumed that dogs will have attended prior group classes so that they have experience working around other dogs and that they know Sit, Sit/Stay, Down/Stay, Come, Leave It, Crate training or Settle with distractions.

If you need to brush up on these skills before enrolling in the FSA classes, please contact us regarding private training so that you can start right by enrolling in Clicker Training for Agility first!

FSA I Curriculum

  • Positional cues
  • Shadow handling/circle work
  • Delivery of rewards for stationary behaviors and for moving behaviors
  • Focus and attention with increasing complexity
  • Progressive Crate Games*
  • Motivation and drive with simulated agility obstacles
  • Start line stays and lead outs
  • Hand targeting and shadow handling for directing the dog around a simulated course
  • Targeting for distance work
  • Proprioception: rear-end awareness exercises, balance disk for core strength and body control, overall body awareness

Note: Agility equipment is not used in this class; rather, the focus is building behaviors and skills that can later be applied to “real” agility obstacles.

*Dogs must be comfortable being in a crate. "Crate Games" are an important part of this class. You will need to bring your crate to each class. If your dog has a phobia about crating, you may choose to bring an exercise pen instead.

Classes are one hour per week for 6 weeks. The cost is $140.00.

Foundation Skills for Agility, Level II


This group class focuses on additional foundation skills for agility training, including handler skills. A solid foundation is the recipe for success; commitment to building foundation skills results in fluent behaviors long-term.

Prerequisites:

Clicker Training for Agility and Foundation Skills for Agility, Level I or permission of the instructor, based on a private skills assessment.

FSA II Curriculum

  • Advanced Crate Games

  • Advanced shadow handling

  • Wobble boards and travel planks for beginning “contact” obstacle work

  • Progressive positional cues

  • Single-jump exercises

  • Advanced start line stays and lead outs

  • Increased distance work

  • Shadow Handling with the front cross for changes of side/direction

  • Targeting for contacts (for dogwalk, A-frame, teeter)

  • And more!

Note about jump heights and weave poles: No full-height jumping or weave poles are performed until the dogs are between 12-18 months, depending on the size of the dog so that we make sure their growth plates are closed. If your dog does a lot of jumping and concussive work before then, you risk short- and long-term health issues.

*Dogs must be comfortable being in a crate. "Crate Games" are an important part of this class. You will need to bring your crate to each class. If your dog has a phobia about crating, you may choose to bring an exercise pen instead.

Classes are one hour per week for 6 weeks. The cost is $140.00.

Foundation Skills for Agility, Level III+

DogPACT Agility Training
Sawyer,
Long-hair Dachshund
Owner: Cris Baldwin
This Level III+ Foundations class continues and builds skills in preparation for Novice Agility. As such, we focus heavily on your handling skills so that you can most efficiently and clearly show your dog where to go in sequences of several obstacles. We transfer the foundation skills to actual contacts such as the dogwalk, A-frame, and teeter. We keep the heights low at the beginning and raise them as your dog becomes confident (not just “okay” performance, but really fluent performance) until they are at full height. Weave poles are also introduced as teams demonstrate their confidence with all the other equipment.

This class is called III+ because each dog-handler team will choose, with the guidance of the instructor, when to move up to Novice Agility. Some teams choose to stay in Level III+ for longer periods of time to further hone their foundation skills. It is reasonable to assume you will be in III+ for 6 months or longer to develop your core handling skills (see the curriculum below!).

Prerequisites:

Clicker Training for Agility and Foundation Skills for Agility, Level I and Level II or permission of the instructor based on a private skills assessment.


FSA III+ Curriculum

  • Transfer of Foundation Skills to actual agility equipment (taking off the training wheels!)

  • "Bang It!" games on the teeter

  • Independent performance of contacts at low height, then full height (A-Frame, dogwalk, teeter, and pause table)

  • Lead-outs (there are many kinds!)

  • Perfecting the front cross

  • Rear cross, serpentines, threadles, 270s, 180s, and pinwheels

  • Multiple-jump exercises

  • Weave poles

  • Sequencing of a variety of obstacles

  • And more!

Note about jump heights and weave poles: No full-height jumping or weave poles are performed until the dogs are between 12-18 months, depending on the size of the dog so that we make sure their growth plates are closed. If your dog does a lot of jumping and concussive work before then, you risk short- and long-term health issues.

*Dogs must be comfortable being in a crate. "Crate Games" are an important part of this class. You will need to bring your crate to each class. If your dog has a phobia about crating, you may choose to bring an exercise pen instead.

Classes are one hour per week for 6 weeks. The cost is $140.00.

Novice Agility

This class integrates multiple obstacles and handling strategies that hone students’ abilities to choose which strategies are most effective at the Novice level of competition.  

Prerequisites:

Clicker Training for Agility, Foundation Skills for Agility, Level I, Level II, and Level III+ or permission of the instructor based on a private skills assessment.

Novice Agility Curriculum:

  • One- to two-obstacle lead-outs

  • Confidence with all obstacles

  • All contacts at full height

  • A full set of 12 weave poles

  • Serpentines, threadles, 270s, 180s, and pinwheels

  • Front crosses and rear crosses

  • 8-10 obstacles in a sequence, basic complexity

*Dogs must be comfortable being in a crate. "Crate Games" are an important part of this class. You will need to bring your crate to each class. If your dog has a phobia about crating, you may choose to bring an exercise pen instead.

Classes are one hour per week for 6 weeks. The cost is $140.00.

Intermediate Agility

DogPACT Agility Training
Toby, Poodle/Terrier
Owner: Sue Nettleton

This class integrates multiple obstacles and handling strategies that hone students’ abilities to choose which strategies are most effective at the Intermediate level of competition. 

Prerequisites:

Novice Agility  or permission of the instructor based on a private skills assessment.

Intermediate Agility Curriculum:

  • Two- to three-obstacle lead-outs and lead-out pivots all contacts at full height, independent of the handler

  • Independent contacts with varying handler positioning

  • A full set of 12 weave poles, independent of the handler, intermediate entries

  • Proficient front crosses, rear crosses, serpentines, threadles, 270s, 180s, and pinwheels, in succession

  • 10-16 obstacles in a sequence, moderate complexity

  • Competing at the Novice or Intermediate level

*Dogs must be comfortable being in a crate. "Crate Games" are an important part of this class. You will need to bring your crate to each class. If your dog has a phobia about crating, you may choose to bring an exercise pen instead.

Classes are one hour per week for 6 weeks. The cost is $140.00.

Advanced Agility


This class integrates multiple obstacles and handling strategies that hone students’ abilities to choose which strategies are most effective at the Intermediate level of competition.  

Prerequisites:

Intermediate Agility  or permission of the instructor based on a private skills assessment.

Advanced Agility Curriculum:

  • Complex lead-outs

  • Independent contacts w/advanced varying handler positions

  • A full set of 12 weave poles, independent of the handler, complex entries

  • Front and rear crosses, serpentines, threadles, 270s, 180s, and pinwheels in multiple progressions

  • 14-19 obstacles in a sequence, advanced complexity

  • Competing at the Masters or Excellent level

Classes are one hour per week for 6 weeks. The cost is $140.00.

Introduction to Competition Handling


If you have taken agility classes before and your dog knows all the obstacles, but you need help with getting him/her around a course fluidly, consider taking a competition handling class. Whether you choose to compete or not, this class focuses specifically on developing skills to negotiate a sequence of jumps. These include footwork and positional cues for the execution of lead-outs, front crosses, rear crosses, serpentines, threadles, pinwheels, etc.

The only obstacles used are jumps and tunnels. This enables you to focus only on your body language (i.e., positional cues) and not worry about contact (A-Frame, Dogwalk, etc.) or weave pole execution. You will learn how to perform well-timed turn signals that tell your dog precisely when and where to go on the course.

Prerequisites:

Novice Agility with DogPACT, intermediate level classes other than DogPACT, Novice competition experience, or permission of the instructor based on a private skills assessment.

This group class is offered on an occasional basis. Please call for availability, location, and pricing. Private lessons are also available at the Long Beach location.

Class Fee: $130.00

Private Agility Lessons


Private agility lessons are tailored to meet individual student's training goals and their dog's capabilities, from foundation skills through advanced handling.

Private lessons are great when you have very specific skills you need more time and help with in order to develop proficiency. They can also help you develop skills that will qualify you to join a continuing class for which you are on a waiting list. They can supplement your existing group class or can be your preferred way of learning.

Skills that benefit most from privates include refining contact behaviors for the A-Frame or Dogwalk, working with a dog who is timid or slow on the Teeter, or rebuilding weave poles that never had a solid foundation. Private lessons can be valuable, too, for students who are more comfortable learning skills in private than in a group class setting.

Semi-private lessons are also available should you choose to train with a friend or a small group of friends.

Contact us for more information regarding your needs or to schedule a lesson. For new students, the first session is a minimum of one hour long so that the instructor can discuss your needs and identify priorities, as well as provide adequate training time. Subsequent lessons may be one half-hour or one hour.

All semi-privates are a minimum of one hour.

Private Lesson Rates:

$90.00/hour
$45.00/half-hour
$427.50 package of 5 one-hour lessons
$810.00 package of 10 one-hour lessons

Semi-Private Rates:

Call for more information about customizing semi-private lessons with other DogPACT students or a group of friends.

Pre-enrollment Private Skills Assessment


DogPACT classes range from Foundation Skills through Advanced levels. If you have taken classes before or are already competing, a DogPACT instructor will need to evaluate you and your dog before you enroll in one of our continuing classes. This ensures that you and your dog will be in a class that fits your skill level. It also gives us a better idea of who will be a good fit for any immediate openings we might have. If we know you and your dog, from meeting you in person and seeing you work together, we will be better able to give you a shout when there is an opening in a continuing class.

Skills assessments are free. They take 15 minutes. A DogPACT instructor will meet with you either before or immediately following an ongoing class so that you can run a quick sequence or course, and the instructor will tell you which class she thinks is best for you.

Taking a skills assessment does not guarantee that we have a current opening, but will get you on the waiting list for the right class!

Contact us to set up a time. We will need to know:

Your name
Your phone number
Your email address
Your city of residence
Your dog’s name
Your dog’s breed, sex, and age
Prior training level
Competition level and/or titles

DogPACT’s Agility Instructors


Terry Long, CPDT-KA teaches private Clicker Training for Agility and Foundations Skills (all levels), as well as group Novice through Advanced classes.

Nikki Myers, CPDT-KA teaches Clicker Training for Agility, Foundation Skills (all levels), as well as Novice, and Intermediate classes.

Have questions? Please ask us how we can help.

What Our Students Say About Us

Class Evaluation

For links to a variety of agility-related Websites, see our Resources pages.

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