SDOS Episode 50 – Agility Dog Training with Rebecca Ashworth Earle

Episode 50 -This is one for the dog agility fans and those who have always wanted to try agility with their dogs. Dom and his Cocker Spaniel Sidney have a go at the jumps under the watchful eye of expert dog trainer Rebecca Ashworth Earle. And we also go behind the scenes at the North East Dog Festival!

Mentioned in this Episode

Dom:     Hello, me bonnie bairns, and welcome to Episode 5-0 of the Superhero Dog Owner Show.

Alex:      Hey, we’ve done alright, haven’t we?

Dom:     Sort of a landmark, isn’t it?

Alex:      Massively, yeah.

Dom:     Yeah. We had a little break halfway through, you know.

Alex:      I’m pretty sure Russell Brand’s first podcast doesn’t even have 50 episodes.

Dom:     My good Lord. So, we’re beating him?

Alex:      Yeah, in our own way.

Dom:     Thanks for that. Is he sitting in car on a cliff top.

Alex:      With the fading light. Maybe.

Dom:     Maybe. Maybe. Maybe he is, yeah.

Alex:      I wouldn’t put it past him.

Dom:     So, what you been up to lately, my friend?

Alex:      I have been doing lots of filming, predictably. I’ve been film quite a few events, so I’ve been down to Windsor, a beautiful hotel, the Oakley Court in Windsor.

Dom:     Nice.

Alex:      We filmed a two-day event down there, which was awesome. A lot of work. Lots and lots of filming. There was a chap down there, Sam, helping me out as well. Lots and lots of footage, but-

Dom:     Why, and I know the answer to this, because we obviously film all my stuff as well, my events, we did the seminars last year, we filmed the Boot Camp last year, and we’re going to film the two Boot Camps we got coming up this year, why is it worth your while filming something like that?

Alex:      Because you’ve then got a whole new other asset to sell for your business, basically. The most obviously is that you’ve got a recording of the full event for people who couldn’t attend, didn’t attend. You can then sell that. That’s the obvious one. You can package it up in different ways. You could send people physical DVDs and stuff, or you could give them a download or whatever. The other side of it as well, and what I push people to do, I don’t have to push you to do it because you know it already, is you’ve got so much footage to repurpose and use however you want. You don’t just have to have the full recording of the event as a big 10-hour massive stint. You could chop up little sections of that. You could make little adverts out of it. You could make a little bit of a highlights reel, which we always do as well, to promote next year’s event or stuff like that. You could give away certain sections. You could give away a little teaser, and then upsell into the full thing.

Dom:     I can tell we’ve stumbled across your area of expertise, here, Alex.

Alex:      Well, quite possibly. I’ve done a few of these things as well.

Dom:     Which is why me and you put together a little course, haven’t we? Not so little course, actually. It’s for dog trainers, specifically, to help them get out of the time-for-money swap because most dog trainers only have one-to-ones and classes. That’s the main areas of their business. These are very much time-for-money swap things. Similar to the events, there are always people who want more. They either want more teaching from you or they’re maybe unable to the one-to-one or maybe they just don’t fancy the one-to-one or they don’t fancy the class. They might be socially inept. That’s not the right word, is it? Or socially challenged.

Alex:      Reserved. A bit reserved.

Dom:     Yeah. They might be more reserved. They might not want to go to the class and stuff, so it’s a great idea to have a stand-alone course, an evergreen course that you can sell over and over again to people who have done your course in person but they want more help or can’t come along to it. That’s what we’re doing, isn’t it? We might as well share a bit more detail about that next time.

Alex:      Yes. Maybe we shall. Just to quote a cliché. By not having content like that that you can sell, you’re leaving money on the table, aren’t you?

Dom:     You are. Indeed you are.

Alex:      Because like you said, you’ve got the people who are coming to your classes and buying your stuff and you think, “Yeah, it’s great,” but there’s a whole other pile of people here who want your stuff, but you haven’t got the right format to deliver it to them.

Dom:     Yeah, and if you’re a dog training, you’re selling help and information, and information comes in many different ways, so lots of different ways that you should be selling it as well. So, more to come on that next time.

On the events theme, though, we’re going to go back today up to Morpeth to speak to our very good friend who we interviewed again, her second time on the podcast, Rebecca Ashworth. She’s a lovely lass, so we don’t mind having her on twice.

Rebecca, last year, did her second Northeast Dog Festival, which was a rip-roaring success. So, we’re going to be talking a bit about that. She’s going to be showing us some agility. We tried some agility with Sidney, and you’ve got a little behind-the-scenes sneaking pick of the Northeast Dog Festival, too, I think.

Alex:      Yes, yes we did.

Dom:     Let’s have a look at that.

Speaker 3:           There’s just so much to do. We’ve had a wonderful time.

Dom:     It’s been fab. It’s been an absolutely awesome day. The weather’s been wonderful. The amount of stores and that that’s here. Been absolutely spectacular, really. There are loads of friendly people out with their dogs. It’s been perfect day.

Speaker 5:           Today has been amazing. I love the show ring. Love doing all the display in the show ring. Today, all the public I’ve had a fantastic day. So, can I say thank you to Northeast Dog Festival for inviting us?

Speaker 6:           It’s been very good. I’m very thankful to be able to be here.

Speaker 7:           Today’s been brilliant. It’s the first time that me and Muffco have ever been to anything like this. It’s dogs everywhere and there’s so many things to see and do.

Speaker 8:           It’s obviously really busy here. Been a lot of fun, and loads and loads of stores, things to do, things to see.

Dom:     I was speaking in the Education Tent, but it was fab to hear some of the other speakers as well. Fantastic local trainers were speaking in there Sue McCabe and Morag Aiers was up as well. There have been some superb displays in the main show ring as well. If you’ve got a dog and you love dogs, you’ll find something to enjoy here, at the Northeast Dog Festival.

Dom:     Hi, everybody. We’re back at Raven River Agility with my good friend Rebecca Ashworth. We had a lot of positive feedback from the last podcast that we did. People want to know a little bit more about agility so I thought, whilst we’re up here doing a little talk tonight, we’ll bring little Sidney. He’s never done agility before. He’s does jump over things in park all the time, logs and stuff like that. I like to make him do things to earn his tennis ball. If someone’s nervous about coming to start something like agility, is there something that you look for, that you would say to them, “It’s a good idea if you do this,” or “Your dog likes this”?

Rebecca:              Focus being the main thing. Find out whether your dog prefers a toy or treats or a little bit of both. The very first thing we do when you come in, sometimes we do it on lead if the dog’s a little bit unsure of what’s going on and things like that. We start with one jump. We ask them to get the dog to sit. If your dog’s got a fairly good sit-and-stay, brilliant. It’s not imperative, but the dog does need to have a fairly good recall as well. We do get a few that come in and just do zoomies, which takes a little bit of a while to bring them in. Usually, they then follow that with, “Oh he doesn’t usually get let off outside” and you’re like, “Oh that will be why.” It does happen more than you think.

We’ll build from one jump and then hopefully we’ll build to two and hopefully we’ll build to three, the big thing being, everything in here has got to be positive. It’s got to be fun because at the end of the day, if your dog doesn’t find it fun, it’s just not going to it. It has to find some sort of worth in it.

We’ll give that a go with Sid. Hopefully, he won’t let the Spaniel side down.

Dom:     Really important, before we start, as Rebecca said, a great idea, I always talk about finding the kryptonite, using the kryptonite, finding the thing that your dog likes. It’s exactly the same as Rebecca said. I like to say it for when you’re in the park to get your dog to come back to you or to get him to stop jumping up at people or to get him to stop barking or whatever it is that you want to stop your dog from doing, having something that he loves, to use that to bribe him, tempt him, reward him for doing the thing you want him to do. It sounds like a similar thing in here. Stop him from doing the zoomies.

Rebecca:              Yes, and then the agility itself starts to become a reward, anyway, and the bond that you get starts to become reward, again anyway.

Dom:     Brilliant.

Rebecca:              We take dogs from 10 months old. At 10 months, we just do basic baby foundation work. You won’t see full height contacts for a good while. You won’t see contacts for the first six weeks, unless it’s on the floor to get them used to running on the surface. Twelve months is when we start to increase the increments in the jumping in the sight of it. Bigger breeds, slightly older, just do the joints and things like that.

Dom:     So, there’s still stuff you can do, even though they’re younger dogs or bigger dogs.

Rebecca:              It just gets the dog involved with you.

Dom:     It’s all going to help you to have a bit more control. Right. Shall we have a pass, then.

Rebecca:              Let’s give it a go, then. Right. The first thing you’re going to do is, you’re going to come to this first jump. You’re going to ask him to sit. It’s very much like how you build a sit command or a recall command. Pick a work. I use the word “over”. Some people use the word “jump”. Others use the word “go”. Whatever it is, just make sure you stick with it.

Dom:     I like “over.”

Rebecca:              “Over”. That’ll do. Right. Some people, we get all sorts of commands.

Dom:     Aye.

Rebecca:              Yeah. I’ve never had that one, actually. We could go with that one.

You’re going to get him to sit. You’re going to step back over it and hope that he stays. Then, what you’re going to do, you’re going to ask him over towards you and then you’re going to reward him with his ball. Eventually, what you want to engage with is the fact that the word over means take the pole between those two wings.

What we’re then going to do, if he masters that quite quickly, is you’re going to drop the ball there for him. Hopefully he leaves it. You’re going to come back. You’re going to stand here. You’re going to use your left arm. You’re going to step forward and tell him over.

Imagine he’s on the end of a leash, and point with the end of your finger. This is where, if you don’t know your left and right, agility’s actually not that easy. You’ve got to be pretty coordinated for it.

So, pop him into a sit.

Dom:     Come on, Sid.

Rebecca:              Get him to wait.

Dom:     Stay.

Rebecca:              Ask him over

Dom:     Over.

Rebecca:              As he jumps towards you, reward him with his ball.

Dom:     Yay.

Rebecca:              Good boy.

Dom:     Good boy, Sidney.

Rebecca:              Good lad.

Dom:     There’s a lad.

Rebecca:              Yay.

Dom:     Good boy.

Rebecca:              Good. Right. What we’re going to do now, because I think he’s probably going to be quite fine at this is, you’re going to get him to sit and wait. If you can hold on to his collar, that’s absolutely fine. He’s already there because he knows it’s something to do with this. If he does it on his own, reward him straight away because he’s already started to shape it.

Is he going to. Oh, he says, “I’m thinking about it.” Yeah. Good boy.

Dom:     Hey. Good lad.

Rebecca:              Good. So, that’s the idea. You’re going to bring him back and you’re going to sit him here and you’re going to throw his ball ahead of him and you’re going to give him the over command as he’s heading towards that jump, okay?

Dom:     So, throw the ball, first?

Rebecca:              Throw the ball, first. See if he’ll wait for it.

Dom:     Sit. Don’t let me down. I might drop it very carefully.

Rebecca:              That’s it. I’m just going to kick it a little bit further forward.

Dom:     Leave it.

Rebecca:              That’s it. Brilliant. You tell him, “Over”, when you’re ready.

Dom:     Over. Yay!

Rebecca:              Good boy.

Dom:     Good boy.

Rebecca:              Good. Right. So, we’re going to speed up the process a little bit. We’re going to take it to two jumps. What I’m going to do now …

Yeah. Clever Spaniel. Clever Spaniel.

What I’m going to do now is, I’m going to take the ball off you, and I’m going to go and drop it up there for him. He’s going to see me do it. We do this so, whilst we want the dog to be engaged with you, equally we want the dog to be independent and look ahead so that we try not to do it with treats in our hand, i.e. lure them over it, as they’re looking at you, lure them over it, as they look at you.

We want them to be a little bit independent and to look that little bit further ahead. When I’ve got the ball up there, you’re going to stand in the middle. You’re going to be on your left hand and you’re just going to step forward and tell him, “Over. Over,” and then, “Get it,” if “Get it” is in self reward with the ball.”

Dom:     Sit. Sit. Stay. Self reward with the ball, yeah? Brilliant.

Rebecca:              And self reward with the ball. So, I’ll drop that ball, if he’s very clever.

Dom:     Stay. Leave it. Leave it.

Rebecca:              When you’re ready, just step forward and tell him, “Over. Over,” and the ball’s going to be ready for him, here.

Dom:     Over. Over.

Rebecca:              Yay. Good boy, Sid.

Dom:     Good boy. Look at this. Yay.

Rebecca:              Good lad.

Dom:     Good boy.

Rebecca:              Good.

Dom:     What’s a good fellow?

Rebecca:              Yeah. He’s an agility dog in the making.

Dom:     Wait when we get Barry out of the car. You won’t be so happy then, will you?

Rebecca:              What we’re going to do now is, you’re going to do it on your other hand. Quite often, we find one of the major issues with when we teach pet dog owners is, most obedience classes, for whatever reason, the dog always walks on the left. So, a lot of the time only wants to work on the left-hand side of you. As soon as you come to do anything on the right, all of a sudden the dog appears there. It’s like, “I’m used to being on this side, Mom, Dad.” So, whatever we do on the left, we do on the right as well, just to make them supple on both sides.

So, exactly the same again, into that space there. Right hand out, and the ball’s going to be ready for him there.

Dom:     Oh.

Rebecca:              That was cheating.

Dom:     What happened there.

Rebecca:              That was cheating.

Dom:     Hey.

Rebecca:              Good boy. Good. So, what I’m going to do, we’re going to do that once more. I’m going to drop this down just a little bit more. I’ve got a feeling it’s because he was looking at the ball. Because he was looking at the ball, his head dropped down a little bit, which is fine. We’ll just drop that to make sure he’s successful at it.

Dom:     Come here.

Rebecca:              Because we don’t want to teach you any bad habits. No, we don’t. Go on.

Dom:     Sidney, here.

Rebecca:              Good boy.

Dom:     Sit. Stay. Stay.

Rebecca:              I’m going to hold it and drop it this time so he’s looking up as opposed to down.

Dom:     Okay. Over. Over.

Rebecca:              Yay.

Dom:     Good lad.

Rebecca:              Now, we’re going to add three in. Good boy, Sid.

Dom:     Good boy.

Rebecca:              We’re going to gain a little bit more speed from you. This is also where … Look at that. Very clever. This is where pet dogs struggle a little bit, as well, in that they’re very used to everyone as just walking beside them. So, all of a sudden, when you start to run beside them, especially a collie sort, they go, “This is really fun. I’m going to herd you.”

If you’re going to do a little bit of agility you don’t have to be Mo Farar or anything, but different paces with your dog when you’re out, to get them used to you running beside them is really, really, useful.

You’re going to come to Jump Two, and you’re doing to start to run as he starts to run, keep that right arm out, and I’m going to be there to reward him with the ball. When you’re ready …

Dom:     Over. Over. Over.

Rebecca:              Yeah. Good boy, Sid.

Dom:     Good boy, Sid. Good lad. Yay. Clever boy.

Rebecca:              Well done.

Dom:     So, what’s the significance of the arm, then? Is this helping.

Rebecca:              Essentially, your dog works on your body movement. So, even if you were to do something silently … That’s good. He’s shaving it already. Even if I was to say nothing to my dog and sit them on a start line there, The arm is what they’re watching. Once you get into your more advanced things, you start to do flying changes, front crosses, catches, European turns, that little bit more complicated handling techniques where the dog needs to know, when I go like that to that, that means that on that hand there. So, when I bring one of mine in …

Rebecca:              Yeah, yep. So, the main focus of being, at the minute, is just that that hand is essentially that guide arm and you’re connected from your cheek, down over, down across, going, “Right. That one. That one. Woo. Hang on. We’re going to that one, there.”

Dom:     I see.

Rebecca:              You become … It’s a bit like driving a car. It’s a bit like a steering wheel. You’ll often hear me, at the back, going, “Left hand, left hand, left hand, as they’re continuing on with the wrong hand.” We do get the odd dancer that comes that you would never think was a dancer. I says, “Was it Irish dancing, by any chance, because you’ve got no rhythm and no coordination, at all.” It’s one of those things. It’s a bit like driving and riding a bike. Once it sticks, it sticks, but it’s getting there that’s the most important thing.

Dom:     Well, that was really good fun.

Rebecca:              Yeah.

Dom:     Thanks for joining me. Thanks for that little taste of agility. I’m definitely sold on it. Anyway, Sidney’s definitely sold on it.

Rebecca:              I think so.

Dom:     I think, if there’s an agility course near you, you should definitely give them a ring, get yourself along, and give it a go. If you’re in the Northeast, you should come and check out Rebecca’s.

Rebecca:              Yeah, definitely.

Dom:     Tell us the website again, so people can get the details.

Rebecca:              It’s northumberlanddogtraining.com

Dom:     Brilliant, and thanks for your time, again.

Rebecca:              Not a problem. Good dog, Sid.

Dom:     Good boy.

Rebecca:              Good boy.

Dom:     So, Alex …

Alex:      Yes.

Dom:     How awesome was that.

Alex:      That was excellent, as ever.

Dom:     She’s smashing, Rebecca. She did a fab job up there with the Northeast Dog Festival. I can’t wait for the next one.

Alex:      I know.

Dom:     What she did with the agility, there, that was sneaking peek at a full-end Master Class that she did inside the inner circle. That went down very well with all of the members of the Superhero Dog Owners inner circle.

Sidney very much enjoyed his little trip around, too.

Alex:      He did. He was really good at it. It was really good.

Dom:     He likes anything if he can a ball at the end of it, though.

Alex:      That’s true.

Dom:     That’s the secret to training a Cocker Spaniel.

So, that’s it for this week. In next week’s episode, Number 51, we’re going to be talking to the original Dog Whisperer. I know what you’re thinking, Alex. Cesar Millan. It’s not.

Alex:      Thank God.

Dom:     Way before Cesar hijacked the Dog Whisperer term, a guy called Paul Owens, who is marketed as the Original Dog Whisperer, who promote lots of kind, effective, really cool dog training, he’s been around for years, really experienced dog trainer, absolutely lovely guy as well to talk to. We’ve got a really insightful interview next week with Paul Owens, the Original Dog Whisperer.

Alex:      Fantastic.

Dom:     So, if you’re a fan of dogs, and he’s American too, so we’re getting right around the world again. Yeah. It’s going to be an awesome episode.

Alex:      Excellent.

Dom:     Really looking forward to it.

Alex:      Yes.

Dom:     Thank you, again, Alex, for this.

Alex:      No problem at all, Dom.

Dom:     We’re off to celebrate Episode 50 with a vanilla milkshake, aren’t we?

Alex:      Woo Hoo.

Dom:     From McDonald’s, but other fast food outlets are available.

Thanks for watching, everyone. We’ll see you next week. If we don’t see you through the week, then we’ll see you through the window.

Meet the Author

Dom Hodgson