Shep, Joyce de l'Oustaou de Padel, works with the Swiss club Cypat'agil
The Pyrenean Shepherd excels at
agility work. If you've never seen them herding, you might think that agility
was what they were originally bred to do. They love anything involving
coordination & high speed.
Pyr Sheps dominate agility in
Europe. The world champion team in 1999 boasted 2 Pyr Sheps.
tremendous jumping ability & balance enable them to leap high jumps with
almost no effort. Although individual Pyr Sheps are often under 16", they have
no trouble clearing 2 or 3 times their height. It seems almost unfair to the
competition to run them in mini-agilty.
Pyr Sheps are eligible
agility, and will be eligible AKC as of January 2004.
See also: Agility & Pyr Sheps - Are They For You?
|HOW DO I TRAIN MY PYR SHEP FOR AGILITY?
breeds need to first gain confidence at being so far above the ground. Not so
the Pyr Shep. Speed, coordination, and balance are built-in.
you need to work on is discipline. Your Pyr Shep will love the opportunity to
work on the equipment. Your job is to make sure s/he follows your rules for
play. I cannot stress firmly enough the value of doing it right the first time!
Never allow your Pyr Shep to play on the equipment unless you are
actively engaged also. Otherwise, the Pyr Shep will devise his own rules (such
as launching herself skyward from the top of the A-frame). S/he needs to learn
that you are in charge & s/he will play by your rules or not at all.
Briska du Col de Gratteloup,
competing in France
The following suggestions will give you an idea of
what working with a Pyr Shep in agility is like. I recommend you read books on
various training methods, watch videos, surf the agility web ring & above
all talk to agility trainers & successful exhibitors to learn what will
work best for you and your dog. Resist any training methods you don't feel
comfortable with. Make sure that both you & your Pyr Shep are having a good
"Cotton" at age 10
Using treats is a perfectly
valid way to keep your Pyr Shep interested in your program (when s/he does it
your way, there's food involved. When s/he does something unauthorized, there
is no food involved). I find Pounce brand cat treats to be very useful as
From the very first time you expose your Pyr Shep to the agility
equipment (even as a tiny pup), be extremely precise about what the dog should
The Dog Walk I like to start pups on the dog walk.Take a small
piece of bait and show it to the pup. Carry the bait over to the obstacle
saying "dog walk" or whatever command you choose to use. Hold the bait in your
hand on the place where the ramp meets the ground. When you have the Pyr Shep's
nose there, repeat the command & ever so slowly trail the bait along the
surface of the ramp, praising the dog & repeating the command frequently.
Ignore any pawing at your hand.
When you get to the top of
the dog walk, give the dog a small piece of bait. Be sure you have additional
pieces in your hand & immediately get the dog focused on the new piece of
bait in your hand.
|Draw your hand along
the dog walk and stop when you get to the beginning of the ramp going down.
Give the 2nd piece of bait to the dog & immediately engage the dog with
another piece of bait.
Trail your hand down the ramp with the dog
following & let him/her see you place the bait at the point where the ramp
touches the ground. Let him/her pick up the bait & give him/her lots of
If the Pyr Shep jumps off the dog walk at any time, ignore him
for a minute, then start over again from the beginning. Do not allow the dog to
jump back up onto the dog walk & continue. They must do it YOUR WAY.
|The reason I give the dog the bait at these moments & in these
ways is so that s/he internalizes the idea that these are points at which one
stops to think. Most of the challenge to training a Pyr Shep in agility is
getting him or her to slow down & do the exercise properly. They prefer to
simply fly around the equipment as the spirit moves them. You have to channel
that energy, motivate them to hit the contact zones, take the jumps in order,
FMI on Agility