Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Herding and Agility with your Mini Aussie

We started Indie at herding when he was 6 months old and started agility at age 8 months.  Here's a summary of my thoughts about agility vs. herding:

*Herding is very, VERY hard to master and therefore it's expensive to do it because it will take 1-2 years to become proficient at it.  However, it's also so much fun.  The ultimate high, if you will, to work livestock with a herding dog. I wish I had the resources to pursue it.

*Agility is sooooo much easier than herding and you can become proficient quickly and inexpensively.  A good agility club will have practices you can go to outside of classes.  It's cheaper than pursuing herding and easier on your brain.
Herding Lessons w/ Mini Aussie:
First, no puppy should start herding earlier than 6 months old.  You want to start off with a herding instinct test.  Ours was cheap ($45) and well worth it.  We got our mini aussie from a great breeder (Timeless Aussies in CA) so he was 100% Aussie and not some mix of an aussie and some smaller dog, like a chihuahua.  Indie is a livestock harassing machine; so tenacious, so driven.  Because he's little and lighting quick, it was hard to control him out in the ring and he wanted to just get in there and bite the sheeps' butts.  Take a look at his herding instinct test and you'll see what I mean!

I did two lessons, one month apart, and I soon realized that I was making zero progress in this endeavor.  I consider myself to be a smart, agile and athletic person so it was hard for me to accept that I couldn't get good at this right away.  If I had the money, I would have done this every single weekend.  It was so much fun to watch my dog think and work. However, aside from moving across the country I just didn't want to make the investment in this sport because it truly is a lifelong pursuit!

Agility w/ Mini Aussie:
Agility was....alright.  After herding, it's a little boring.  If you have an aussie you should definitely do it though!  They need it because it works their mind (and yours as a handler)! Agility is a good thing to do with a puppy who is at least 7/8 months old because at this age their are almost full grown, but also still need new experiences.  Agility requires focus and control of your off leash dog in the presence of other dogs.

The problem with having an Aussie is that they are so damn good at agility.  They do everything in like two seconds! Getting them to slow down is the hard part.  So what happens is that you'll have the best dog in the class and spend all your time waiting around for other people and their slow ass dogs.  Sorry, it's true y'all!  Over all it's fun and so great to work your dog.  

Here is Indie's dad; apparently he LOVED agility! Look at this little dog GO!


Our trouble is that we love the outdoors and we have taken Indie on all kinds of nature obstacles.  Crossing logs over creeks, leaping, swimming, climbing up rocks and chasing.  I think he was as bored with the hokey agility equipment as I was.  Outdoors he loves leaping challenges and he'll gratuitously leap around for fun.  On the agility course? He was kinda bored jumping the hurdles. I thought he'd love it, but I just didn't get that sense from him.  As you can see below: he gets to do way more exciting "agility" stuff on a regular basis. 

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