Beginning of Run Routines: Ring entry, Leash Removal, and Setup

Sunday, Oct. 8

1:40PM - 3:30PM

Experience Level: All

How your dog enters the ring can tell you a lot about how the run will go. The rewards are gone, the distractions are front and center, and you’re feeling nervous about how this will all play out. Without a well-rehearsed routine, it can feel like you’re never sure what dog you’re going to have upon entering the ring. Will they be fast? Will they hold their startline? Will they stay with me on the course? These are all questions we can find lingering in our heads when we don’t have a way to directly ask the dog!

Building a predictable routine that you and your dog can rely on is the same as asking them those questions, and will produce more consistent behaviors and give you reliable information about your dog’s mindset.

In this session, teams will work on:
– Teaching a choice-based ring entry
– Attaching anticipatory feelings (increased arousal) to the leash removal
– Changing the reinforcement contingency of the startline setup from food to work
– Chaining the pieces together for use in competition contexts

All agility teams will benefit from learning how to give our dogs a choice with regard to competing and how to reduce reinforcement effectively with the use of routines and sequences of behaviors.

Working participants should feel comfortable taking their dog’s leash off in the working space and have a trained setup behavior. A lead-out is not necessary for this session but is recommended (can be just a few steps).

Presenter Bio

Megan Foster

Megan Foster (she/her) has been training in agility for nearly her entire life. With nearly 25 years of experience, She has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dogs within a large variety of breeds.

She began her agility journey with an American Eskimo and a Westie, both loaner dogs from people in our local training club. In 1999, She began competing with her first Shetland Sheepdog, Buddy. While running him, she knew that agility was what she was meant to do.

In 2003, Ty, another Sheltie, became a part of her life and her agility career took off like a rocket. He was 3 years old and not completely sure of himself, but together, they blossomed into an incredible team, on and off the course! In 2005, She attended her first National event and took fifth place in the $10,000 Dog Agility Steeplechase Finals with Ty. That same year, she became a USDAA Judge, as a 13-year-old Junior Handler, the youngest ever.

Since then, she has competed at the Cynosport World Games twelve times, with eight different dogs. She has also attended the AKC Nationals three times with her border collie, Smack. Smack and Megan also attended the International Team Tryouts three times, earning a spot on the European Open team in 2015, representing Team USA in Germany that year.

She has also had her share of disappointments when it comes to sports prospects. Her second border collie, Shock, was unable to compete to the levels that she had dreamt of due to noise sensitivity and other health concerns that arose late in life. Her Parson Russel Terrier, Shrek, is one of the most talented dogs that she has ever gotten to train, and yet, he very clearly told her that competing was not for him. It is her experience with all of her dogs that has molded her into the trainer she is today. Her current up-and-coming superstar, Sprint, a border collie, is a direct representation of all that she has learned and that she continues to learn about living and competing with these amazing creatures.

She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her partner and their five dogs: Skittles, Shock, Skrik, Shrek, and Sprint. She coaches dog agility online full-time at the FxAgility School, travels to present seminars, and coaches other agility professionals on their training programs and business ambitions. It is her goal as an educator to guide other dog sports enthusiasts on their path to excellence. Regardless of experience levels, breed choice, goals, and lifestyle, it is her extreme privilege to watch teams build a sustainable version of agility for their team.