When to start agility training (giant breed)?

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!

Calamity- Jane

Barked: Sat May 4, '13 5:57am PST 
As some of you may know, I'm currently looking to adopt another dog. I found a Border Collie/Newfoundland mix being rehomed on craigslist the other day, and after talking with my parents, we contacted the owner and expressed our interest in adopting him. We're meeting him today.

If we adopt him, I may want to do agility with him, not for competition, but for fun. I'm just wondering at approximately what age is he going to be able to train in agility. I don't want to put too much strain on his growing joints, but since he's going to be a big dog (apparently the vet predicted that he'd be around 100 lbs), I don't know at what age he'll be done growing.

Edited by author Sat May 4, '13 6:00am PST


Do you even- lift?
Barked: Sat May 4, '13 11:01am PST 
A dog that's going to be 100lbs fully grown probably shouldn't be doing too much in the way of high impact activities until it's at least 2 years old.

What you can do in the meantime though is take a foundations of agility class. A foundations class should be low impact because you shouldn't be doing a whole lot with the obstacles. It's a good idea for any dog to take a foundations class first regardless of age as there's a lot to learn before you start the flashy stuff.

Barked: Sun May 5, '13 5:30am PST 
Thanks Onyx. I know that I can focus on flatwork and basic foundation stuff. I can't take him to a class right now, because I have no transportation and money to spare, but I do have some agility equipment at home (tunnel, weaves, a jump) and I can train obedience and stuff. What sort of things should I be training him now that he's home?


Will Work For- Food
Barked: Sun May 5, '13 9:21am PST 
Onyx is correct, you shouldn't be doing high impact training with a large breed puppy, but there is tons of foundation work that you can be doing.
My large breed dogs (berners) started training in agility as puppies. This involves body awareness work, basic obedience and most importantly, building a bond and working relationship with your dog. Teaching a love for work though games and play is also a great way to start agility training. As for actual skills - there is an endless amount of things you can teach without having your dog on any equipment - crosses on the flat, acceleration, deceleration, directional cues, distance work, circle work. You can teach so many other skills with just a tunnel and a couple jumps with the bar on the ground. Keep training short and fun and by the time your dog is mature enough to get on full equipment, he will have all the foundations needed to be off to a great start.
To give you some sort of time line - Bosley (a lean 95 pounds mature weight) started agility foundations as a puppy, started training on full equipment (full jump height, full size contacts, weave training) at about 18 months (full height jumps and weaves were a bit later), and was nearly 3 when he started competing. It took that long for him to mature enough in both body and mind before I felt he was ready to compete.

Edited by author Sun May 5, '13 9:24am PST


Will Work For- Food
Barked: Sun May 5, '13 9:43am PST 
Here is a video of a top agility trainer (world team) training her puppy. Not a large breed dog, but it gives you an idea of the foundation work you can be doing. The dogs in the video have been learning these skills since they were 8 weeks old, so keep that in mind. All these would need to be broken down into small parts to start with.