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Excelling at Dog Agility: Book 3 : Advanced Skills Training (Updated Second Edition) Hardcover – August 7, 2007
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Jane Simmons-Moake's Excelling at Dog Agility Book 3: Advanced Skills Training is an exciting addition to my "all things dog" library. It completes her series in the same clear, concise, easily understood manner as the first two books. The wealth of diagrams augments the text and gives you a visual aid as well.
The first two books, Excelling at Dog Agility Book 1: Obstacle Training and Excelling at Dog Agility Book 2: Sequence Training lay the ground work for the third by providing theory and essential foundation skills. Book 3 shows you how to isolate and train the skills necessary to compete successfully at advanced levels of competition by giving you enormous flexibility in handling strategies and therefore, a competitive edge. In addition there is new material that that can be used at the begining levels. The chapter on training aids is one example.
Each chapter include topics such as "How to Begin", "If You Have Problems", "Using Training Aids", How to Progress", "Games", "Praise", "Proofing" and "Training Tips". A chapter on weave pole skills reminds us that they must be honed and maintained throughout your dog's agility career. Ms. Simmons-Moake describes and illustrates progressive exercises to accomplish this task. The chapter on the pause table shows you how to teach your dog to jump on the table, keep from sliding off, and get the quick, solid sit or down so necessary to save time. Other chapters cover exciting techniques and skills. The "send-and-run" technique allows you to move ahead before your dog has committed to an obstacle. The dog confidently follows your direction regardless of what you do afterward. "Layering", the technique of keeping one or more obstacles between you and your dog, allows you to complete sequences smoothly without pulling your dog off course. Teaching your dog to discriminate obstacles with verbal cues can mean the difference between qualifying or not. It is best to begin training this skill by calling your dog to you over an obstacle rather than sending until the dog gains confidence. Other useful verbal directions are the "get-out" and the "heel and side" commands that allow you to adjust your dog's path through the course. "Back chaining" is a skill that can be used to gain distance from your dog on the course. Sequences that are often found in advanced competition, such as "pinwheels", "zig-zags" and gamble with its variations are thoroughly addressed with text and diagrams. A chapter on practicing at home illustrates how, with few obstacles in your inventory, you can hone your competitive skills. Appendix A: Problem Solving is done in a question and answer format with many possible solutions given to a particular problem. Appendix B: Video Topic Guide - Tape 3 coordinates the book's text with specific times on tape 3 of her award winning video series Competitive Agility Training. For those who learn better visually, the combination of the books' diagrams and videos are an unparallelled means to become a more accomplished agility competitor. For those of us who are becoming a bit creaky with age, the techniques and skills presented can help us to continue to show our Belgians in agility without having to try and keep up with this very intelligent and speedy breed. An altogether winning combination! --Carol R. Morris, The Belgian Sheepdog magazine, 2003
About the Author
Jane Simmons-Moake is one of the world's foremost agility trainers. A top-winning competitor, veteran judge, and award-winning author, Jane runs one of the nation's most successful agility training organizations, FlashPaws Agility Training Center in Houston, Texas.
A popular seminar leader in the U.S. and abroad, Jane has also competed internationally as a member of the 1996 and 1997 U.S. World Championship Agility Teams.
Jane's unique background combines over 20 years of competi-tive dog training success in a wide variety of dog sports with M.S. and Ed.S. degrees in Instructional Technology Â the study of designing training programs that really work. As a result, Jane's books and videos have long been considered by many to be "the bible" of serious agility enthusiasts.
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The first two books and tapes in the "Excelling at Dog Agility" series cover obstacle training and sequence training. The third book, which was just published in 2002, is subtitled 'Advanced Skills Training.' As was the case with the other two books, a handy reference guide at the end of the book directs you to the place on the tape where the skills being discussed can be viewed. The advantage of having the book to refer to, in addition to the tapes, is that it beautifully diagrams the various practice maneuvers and presents some marvelous course designs for practicing each of the featured skills. As I scanned through the book I made mental note of the courses I wanted to try. They looked like so much fun!
The first topic addressed in this book is advanced weave pole skills. In watching Jane run her own dogs I have always marveled at her ability to send her dogs into the weaves regardless of where the weave entrance was in relation to her. This is a vital skill for anyone involved in USDAA or NADAC gambler classes in addition to often being the difference between a Q and an NQ on any course.
This chapter carefully details the steps that will lead to a dog who doesn't need babysitting on the weaves. It also includes a number of suggestions on how to proof your dog so he will remain in the weaves, regardless of your enthusiastic praise or the distractions at a show.
Advanced pause table skills might not seem necessary once your dog has learned to get on the table, but could your dog handle a wet slippery table at top speed? Jane writes, "If you have not taught your dog to grip the top of the pause table to keep from sliding off, you have yet to address an important part of his training." Also included in this chapter are ideas on how to maintain the sit or down.
Two vital skills for anyone needing to make up for a slow dog or catch up with a fast one are the ability to (1) send and run and (2) layer. The first occurs when you send your dog to a jump or tunnel but you, the handler, continue to run ahead to where you need to be next. Layering is similar in that you send the dog to an obstacle while you run a more direct line to where you are headed, even if there is an obstacle between you and the dog.
Other topics addressed are obstacle discrimination, the 'get out' command, pinwheels, zig-zag rear crosses, 'heel and side' commands and advanced distance skills. The latter chapter includes a number of pages devoted to how one should prepare for gamblers.
Each chapter in the book starts with a section on 'How to Begin,' continuing with 'How to Progress,' interspersed with what to do 'if you have problems,' generously diagrammed so you can practice each of the skills you are trying to teach.
Finally, if you are one of those who lacks equipment at home and thinks it's sufficient to practice only once a week at class, Jane dispells that theory with a number of exercises you can work on when you're alone. Some you can do with no equipment at all; others are designed for those who have space for only one or two pieces of apparatus.
If you already own the first two books and tapes in this series, I'm sure I don't need to recommend that you run out and purchase this third. If you don't already own any of the "Excelling at Dog Agility" series of books and/or tapes, I would most certainly suggest that you add this to your wish list. Guaranteed, the instruction contained will help you progress.
Simmons-Moake wastes no time getting into the good stuff, and starts out this very advanced book with advancing your weave-pole skills. She covers difficult and "impossible" weave entries and how to train them the right way... and succeed! Moving on to the pause table in the next chapter, she explains the concepts behind a perfect pause table performance, namely teaching your dog to "grip the table," get an immediate sit/down, and correct the perpetually sliding pooch.
Other than the weaves and table, the rest of the book really focuses on the handler and developing his/her skills. Learn to "layer" courses designed to trip you up (literally!), perform precise pinwheels and super serpentine sequences. Improve your distance handling with this book, so that gambles are no longer a gamble!
Some really great things about this book:
· Extremely advanced skill taught in an understandable way
· Home practice tips and exercises
· A section on evaluating your handling and training skills, and addressing the dog who is "over drilled"
· The MOST helpful Problem Q&A section I have ever seen for problems ranging from the dog being too fast/slow to control issues and more!
Though this book is definitely not for the beginner and will probably require a professional instructor's guidance, it is a great way to increase your knowledge on the subject and improve your handling skills. Like the two previous books, this is an THE way to achieve excellence, yet a very enjoyable read. Kudos to Jane Simmons-Moake for creating the best books on dog agility out there!