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English Cocker Spaniels

An Online Owners Guide


Agility



 

Agility is the most fun, wonderful, and refreshing of all dog sports.   A place where both handler and dog must work together and be ready for the unexpected. 

Teamwork is the name of the game.   I start my English Cockers in agility training as puppies, taking care that they do not jump "height", but just learn to go over the bar at minimum height between the side panels, whatever they may be. The tunnels are great fun...and the chute a joy for these active and interested puppies.  


'Benny' - O'Crowley

Always use positive reinforcement! Throw treats or roll a ball filled with treats in front of you, so they learn to run ahead.   But never correct your English Cocker without a very quick positive reward after the correction.


'Barra' - O'Crowley

English Cockers  think the teeter-totter is a great thing to accomplish, as is the dog walk and the ramp.   They easily learn that the "bottom" is where you want to stop to get treats and/or praise (and to make sure you touch the contact zones).  
Of all performance events, agility is where competitors feel the greatest communication and sense of "being one with your dog."  It takes a strong leader and yet a gentle teacher to train for this sport.
Your English cocker will  need to be well conditioned (as will the handler!), and you can feel the joy and excitement as they wait for their turn on the starting line. 

Not every dog and handler pair will be up to going all the way to the top of agility titling, but all can enjoy Novice and then decide if moving on to Open and Excellent (in AKC) is right for them. 


'Barra' - O'Crowley

Most starting dogs need a minimum of obedience training.  They need to look to you for direction, they need a good "come" and can learn "stay" and "down" and "sit" during the early classes before competition. 

The main thing is a love of working together and seeing it as a partnership.  An English Cocker is smart enough to know when it can ignore your commands and get away with it, so never let that happen, and if it tries, say "wrong" and give it another command and be absolutely exuberant about it being correct!   Positive training will pay off in the long run.  You will have a happy and confident dog that will come back after making an on course error and just happily move on.  You can ask for no more.  

It is truly a partnership and one that is made with love and hard work from both of you.