How old do I need to be?

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

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st. francis of- asses
Barked: Wed Mar 10, '10 6:57am PST 
Hi everyone, just wanted to get a little info on agility and other sports. I have a 5 month old dalmatian that I would love to get involved in agility. How old should they be? I know that she is obviously still growing and will be for a while so I am just wondering about when it is safe to do this or any other sport. I know because of her breed that she will need this outlet and others because of her high energy level but I don't want to start her too early and cause problems. Also any suggestions for any other sports that would be good for this type of dog? Thanks!
Fun On The- Run Kennel- Racing

'10 Junior- Iditarod, 6th- place!
Barked: Wed Mar 10, '10 11:00am PST 
You can start ground work at any age, but they need to be at least 6 months old, if not a year, before you start jumping. I'm sure other dogsters can give more insight than me into why this is, but yeah wink

I paln on starting to do agility with my sled dog Pork Chop! Good luck with you beautiful Dal puppy!

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Wed Mar 10, '10 11:13am PST 
You can start Rally Obdedience really young. In fact, to get your RLP (Rally Level Puppy), you need to get your first leg before you are a year old, then you have 6 months to complete your title.

Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Wed Mar 10, '10 12:59pm PST 
Large breeds may take almost two years for the growth plates to close, so would figure no real jumps before 24 months. Our clubs allows dogs in agility classes beginning at 12 months... early work would not involve significant jumping.

You should have a solid obedience base before agility...

ETA... don't forget tracking as a fun sport! Beyond our regular agility class, we are doing an agility fun class... just the greatest idea! Walk, frame and jumps are low to accomodate larges and smalls... but great practice chaining the obstacles (Charks can't tell the difference, and trainer and dog get significant exercise... pant, pant, pant)

Edited by author Wed Mar 10, '10 1:04pm PST

Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
Barked: Thu Mar 11, '10 11:20am PST 
I would look for a puppy agility or foundation agility class. These classes are generally fine for puppies, and are a good way to introduce them to agility before they are old enough to jump. The class I am taking with Bianca now is a foundation agility class and the instructor sometimes has her GSD puppy go through the course-- all the jumps are set low enough that the dog can step over them, and the focus is on handling skills.
As far as actual agility class with higher obstacles, the minimum would be a year old but personally I would wait until 2 years with any large breed.
Henna AKC- Blinded by- the White

Here we- go...welcome to- the freakshow...
Barked: Thu Mar 11, '10 2:18pm PST 
You can introduce them to all the equipment and sequences at any age. The sooner the better. They should not be jumping over 8 inches until a year old, and they shouldn't be jumping their trial height until 15 months old.

My trainer has Dalmations smile Her pup Woah Nelly, is the youngest Dalmation to MACH in the history of Dalmations! She finished her novice, open and Ms all in under a year. What a great dog.

You need to join and AKC training club and get with trainers. They will guide you in the right direction. Good luck! I love the liver dals!
Shayne CGC,- RL2

Shayne- Disc Doggin in- the 'Burgh!
Barked: Thu Mar 11, '10 5:36pm PST 
I must respectfully disagree with starting a puppy on all agility equipment before 12 months...

Jumps, tire, weaves, and A-frame* (*at full height) in particular should not be done until a dog's body is ready for that:

Jumps and tires should not be really worked on until about 12 months old for a non-giant/large breed... growth plates are not fully closed and frankly you can't get accurate xrays for joint health until this time....you can start the concepts by walking over bars on the ground or on the bottom rung (inch or two off the ground)... or through a hulla hoop on the ground... you can teach a lot of directionals with jumps on the ground

A-frame--it takes a lot of hind end strength and shoulder strength to safely maneuver this obstacle... a puppy does not have sufficient muscle to assure the stability of the shoulders to safely go up and come down.... doing puppy-sized or a lowered A-frame is fine so long as there is no push for speed

The concept of weaves can be started (maybe 2 x 2 learning the entry or the wide-open with guides)... puppies should NOT be running through straight weaves... it puts a lot of strain/pressure on the spine and that just isn't good for young dogs.

There is SOOOOO much more to competitive agility than the obstacles and a good agility class wont even have you ON an obstacle for 4 or 5 months... so much ground work to be learned.
MACH4 PACH2- Aslan

Barked: Thu Mar 11, '10 6:11pm PST 
Oh, I agree with Shayne. You should NOT be doing all the equipment before the growth plates are closed. Puppies should NOT be doing A frames, weaves, umps, teeter or full height dog walks...period. Not until the growth plates are closed. All it takes is one bad fall off of a dogwalk (which happens a lot) for your puppy with soft growth plates to be permanently crippled.

I did a ton of handling skills, low board contact work, obedience work, etc., with my pup. Get your CGC and get into a puppy class that focuses on groundwork. The real hard part of agility is the handling...not training obstacles. That's easy. smile It's what you do between the obstacles that will make or break your performance in the upper levels of the sport.

Keep your pup off of the contact equipment until the growth plates are closed. For a Dal, this could be anywhere between 12 and 18 months.

st. francis of- asses
Barked: Thu Mar 11, '10 6:21pm PST 
thanks to all of you for your responses. I wanted to be sure that I did the right thing for my dal, that would not cause problems later in life. I did call a trainer today in my area that said almost everything ya'll did, she would work with us on foundation work to develop her confidence, coordination and understanding. She would want to wait for height and repetitions until her growth plates close around 14 months old. In the meantime I will continue with her obedience classes and work towards getting her CGC.

I sure do love- walks &- treats!!! :D :D
Barked: Thu Mar 11, '10 6:47pm PST 
You need to wait until your dog is around 16 or 18 months (only 12 months for small dogs) to make sure that your dogs joints and bones are fully grown. Otherwise, it could hurt your dog's joints and bones and cause problems later on in life.

For now, you could work on making sure that your dog is well-behaved and can be trusted off-leash. Be sure to teach the "Watch me" command to make sure that your dog is normally focused on you, too.
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