Basic Foundations: Handlers learn how to communicate with their dog on the agility training floor. Handlers are given many flatwork (floor) exercises to practice both in class and at home. Dogs are strategically and slowly introduced to each agility obstacle. Agility commands and terms are learned and practiced. Rotations through stationed drills are used to begin understanding the need for pace, flow and team coordination. Short, straight-line obstacle strings are used to connect skills by the end of the course. Various handling skills are introduced for familiarization. How agility “works” is explained throughout the sessions.
Beginner Class: Obstacles are placed slightly off-set and have added turns. Crosses and turns are broken down and executed. Detailed explanations of timing, body movement, body cues and verbal cues are reviewed and executed. Obstacle and jump heights are raised slowly as appropriate for each dog. Control and focus level expectations are increased. Course discriminations and traps are introduced for familiarization. Course “Get-outs” and Go-Go-Go exercises are introduced for familiarization. Walking a course is introduced for familiarization.
Novice Class: Executing the different crosses and turns is increased in course challenges. Simple course discriminations and traps are practiced. Short course “Get-outs” and Go-Go-Go drives are executed. Skills to increase flow and fluidity on a course are reviewed and executed. Higher expectations for handler finesse are enforced. Start line waits are polished until reliable. Pauses on contacts are proofed to a reliable level from short distances. Independent handler thinking is encouraged through course options during explanations and walk-throughs. Focus on timing, body positioning, body cues and verbal cues are forefront in all exercises. Course acceleration and deceleration is introduced for familiarization.
Intermediate Class: Handlers are expected to begin polishing their timing, body positioning, body cues and verbal cues. Tougher and/or multiple “Get-outs,” Go-Go-Go exercises, discriminations and traps are used to build the skills needed for these challenges. Handling skills using acceleration and deceleration to increase course flow are executed. Verbal cues are lessened to increase the body movement and handler body cue communication. Dogs are expected to have strong start line waits and fairly reliable pauses on contacts.
Advanced Class: Dogs are proficient at all basic skills and obstacles. Handlers use the courses to proof their timing, body movement, body cues and verbal cues through challenging portions of the courses. Handlers work to solidify the start line wait, bottom contact pauses and weave pole entrances. Course analyzing and strategizing skills are forefront in most course lessons. Handlers use the courses to proof individual dog needs. Instructors provide a judge-like opinion of what they observed during each run. Gaining speed with accuracy on courses is a main goal.
AG1 & AG2: These class levels are equivalent to a mix of the Saturday Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced classes. AG1 is a more Beginner/Novice, level one. AG2 is a more Intermediate/Advanced, level 2.