|Agility Training of the Border Collie
By Deborah Bates
I started the hunt for my very first agility dog two years ago and when I saw Panda, a cute, sweet little six month old rescue Border Collie, my search ended. I got her and started training her within a few weeks. Since Border Collies are without a doubt one of the smartest breeds of dog, training them in agility is rewarding as well as challenging.
I “clicker” trained her by treating and clicking a clicker whenever a desired action was accomplished. Soon she knew that the click meant that a treat was coming, which came in very handy with distance work. This method is very effective in agility and in six months, when Panda turned a year old, I started showing her. She is currently in Excellent Standard and Excellent Jumpers.
Just teaching Panda a command does not insure that she will do it 100% of the time. Dogs, especially puppies, need repetition to be good agility dogs, and such commands such as “come-to-heel” should be practiced daily. My Border Collie was somewhat slow at first, compared to the breed, and that was bothering me because under no circumstances did I want a slow Border Collie. What fun was that?! Quickly, though, she began picking up speed and started passing me on the course. My agility teacher and the best dog trainer in the business, Denise Thomas, told me “Get down the basics and the speed will take care of itself”, and boy was she ever right! I was getting speed now alright, but not enough control. To solve this problem, I had to go back to come-to-heel work and now I have an under-control dog. So remember, Junior Handlers, to always reinforce the basics even with an excellent dog.
I’ve talked a lot about training in general, so the following is a brief synopsis of training techniques I used for Panda, for each obstacle: