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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Dog Agility Training Classes: Escapades with Marcia and Tex

By Marcia Voorhees

Here I was going through my emails a typical morning while eating breakfast and there is a weekly email from my horse group. "Please help find a home for this wonderful 2 year old Aussie, my friend's husband is very ill, it is his dream dog and he can no longer take care of him." So I clicked on the picture... oooohhh... awwww... who could resist this blue-eyed, brown-eyed dog!

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I do already have a Chocolate Lab, but he is 12 and sadly not doing well, I just know that he would appreciate a new companion for his last year or two, it might even prolong his life, that's what I tell myself. Now all I have to do is talk my husband into this new addition. How am I going to do this, I already have a full lineup with 3 horses, 5 cats (3 inside, 2 in the barn) a lab and a talking parrot? With the usual bottle of wine and a favorite meal of course, that's what always works, you'd think he'd be aware of my antics after 31 years!

He thinks this dog is quite beautiful, and I convince him of their intelligence, conveniently not mentioning their excessive energy! So off we go to see him. And he is beautiful, so smart, fetches that ball a hundred times and drops it at our feet, sits, stays, heels, downs, and crate trained/house broke! YES! I have to have him! He's nothing like my Lab, he's so smart! (I say that with great affection, by the way!)

Dog Agility Training Classes Article photo of Australian Shepherd, Tex.

Marcia Voorhees

Australian Shepherds like Tex are naturals for dog agility training

And so here becomes dilemma number one, he's herding my cats. All around the house they go, and go and go, finally one of them decides to turn on him and hiss/scratch/growl. Thank you God. That cured him for that cat, 4 to go and it's taken 3 months, still the others are very afraid so for now we are alternating free time in the house, and Tex has plenty of free time outside in his yard, which he runs the perimeters guarding us, with his little ducky in his mouth. Too cute, and I feel a little safer these days, no more squirrels stealing the bird seed, no more deer bringing ticks, no more raccoons, opossum, and most of all, strangers get a nice low bark warning to stay away and then he offers (flips) his duckie to them to be tossed for some amazing air time. That slimy duck is enough to make strangers run for their lives!

This brings us to why I've decided to take him to beginners dog agility classes offered nearby at the local dog training facility. He has so much energy, (not like my lab) and so willing to do anything I ask him, I thought this would be a lot of fun for these winter months of freezing rain/snow, 0 degree weather.

Last night was, our very first agility class. Boy did we have FUN!!! We arrived 15 minutes early, walked in the door, Tex is on high alert (so am I), super high energy mode, there are 20 dogs of many breeds, 5 German Shepherds, 3 Dobermans, several Terriers, one Pekingese, a Wiener Dog, 3 Border Collies, and a Rottweiler and one Aussie, Tex, all sitting in a circle (not actually sitting mind you, pacing, straining at their leashes, some growling at the dog next to him, and yes some lying down looking bored) with their owners and several family members that are there to watch. It's somewhat chaotic and I'm a little worried at this point, but Tex is sitting calmly, enjoying all the sights, scents and sounds, he's being quite entertained I believe, so I relax and fill out the required paperwork like everyone else is trying to do.

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Then it began, three stations, of different dog agility equipment. The first, a 12'' foot A-frame structure with skinny boards attached going up one side and down the other. The trainer tells us how to lead them up and down with dog treats (biljac, yucky, sticky stuff dogs love, I do not) stuck in-between my fingers, (leashes will remain on since it's a learning class). The first dog proceeds, a huge German Shepherd named Gunner, he has no problem, next dog, a Border Collie, also not a problem, and now here we go, our turn, and for some reason I feel butterflies, we walk up to it, I take a breath, quick as ever, up and over Tex goes like it's nobody's business, he flies over so fast I have to run to keep up, he absolutely loves this! I'm so surprised and yet not surprised and I feel elated. We wait in line for our next few turns, I am so proud of him, especially when I see several other dog owners having to climb the A-frame with their dog to get them to go up and then down, not an easy feat for a dog, less so for their human companion!

Our second and last event is the 100' alley with seven, 2' high dog agility jumps. After the A-Frame I'm feeling pretty confident, I'm guessing Tex is too because he really is kind of prancing around at this point. It's our turn, the trainer has Tex sit, then I hurdle my way to the end, the dogs are to get hurdling/jumping/running picture from watching us, (or maybe it's just how the trainers find amusement in their jobs?) anyway, I'm at the end, I turn to call Tex, and whoa, he is already jumping the last jump and stopping at my feet! Oh what a good boy, super fast. Although he did knock down 2 poles, so we'll try to do better on the 2nd and third turn, which he did, no more knocked down poles, leaping over them with grace and hey, agility!

That hour went by unbelievably fast and the icing on the cake, errr dog biscuit... we went home and Tex curled up on the couch beside me to fall fast asleep. A first for him since he usually needs to be on high alert in case the cats needs herding! icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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