Get Started in Agility!

Get off to the right start at Creekside Canines where the training is POSITIVE and reward-based. Dogs are never forced to do anything at Creekside Canines. Instead they are encouraged to think for themselves and are handsomely rewarded for making the choices we like. This approach fosters confident and happy dogs. Whether you just want to have fun with your dog or want to aim for competition, you and your dog will learn with this same positive system.

Is agility right for my dog? Agility is for dogs of all shapes and sizes. It is for both mixed breeds and purebred dogs. Jump heights are based on the size of the dog. In AKC, jump heights start as low as 4 inches and go up to 24 inches. However, agility does require some athletic ability so your dog must be physically sound. Puppies can get started now too! While puppies should not jump nor be on full height equipment for safety reasons, there is plenty of foundation training that should be done which will make transitioning to obstacles easy.

Is agility right for ME? You do not need to be particularly athletic to do agility. If you watch the videos of me running Psychic and Gale, you'll see that I hardly run due to very bad knees. I incorporate distance handling into my training that works just as well for my students. That being said, if you like to run, you can do that too. You should know that agility is just as much about YOU learning to communicate with your dog as it is training your dog to do obstacles. It may well be one of the most frustrating sports you've ever tried BUT it is also likely to be the most rewarding and will build a relationship with your dog unlike any other as the two of you become a team. I don't care if you go on to compete or just want to do it to have fun with your dog. Either way, most people and dogs can do agility.

No prior training needed & why group beginner classes rarely work. I've found that owners and dogs succeed more quickly using a personal approach rather than the more typical classes elsewhere in groups of 6 or 8 or even 10. In beginning group classes, there will be all different types of dogs from over the top crazy dogs who need to learn impulse control to scared and shy dogs who need to learn how to have fun with their owners. While ultimately agility dogs need similar skill sets, they do NOT need to learn them in the same order and should not be taught that way. For this reason, I start everyone in private lessons so that YOU and YOUR dog get exactly what they need, when they need it. Later on, group classes may be an option. If you have a friend who wants to try it, you may share a lesson. Sometimes I might have someone to partner you up with so be sure to ask.

How to choose the right agility instructor in the USA. A good agility instructor should meet the following criteria: 

You will find all of this here at Creekside. I have a great deal of experience with many breeds and mixes and have put high level agility titles, including a number of Master Agility Champion titles, on 5 of my own dogs (See the About section for the list of my personal dogs and their titles). I compete in AKC agility trials at least once a month so my training is up to date and always relevant. In 2023, we will be branching out to compete in both UKI and AKC's ISC division. My students are excelling in all levels of agility and I'm very proud of them. On top of all that, you will make new friends and become part of a whole new world where everyone is friendly and supportive.

1. Get Started:   The first thing you'll need to do is come for a half hour evaluation. There will be no actual training during this session but rather I can meet you and your dog, explain how things are done here and answer all your questions. Then you can decide if you wish to try training here at Creekside. The cost of the evaluation is $36 (discounted to $35 for cash or Zelle transfer) payable at the time of the evaluation. The booking software will ask for a credit card but the card is NOT charged unless you are a no show without giving me cancel notice.

Step 1. Please fill out the New Student ApplicationForm Here prior to booking your evaluation.Once you click Submit, it will return you to this page. There is NO obligation in filling out this form.

Step 2: You will be contacted via email about booking your evaluation.  Note: If accepted for booking, you will be asked to enter credit card info but your card is NOT CHARGED unless you are a no show with no cancellation notice. Payment is due at the time of the evaluation. Cash, check, Zelle, credit/debit card. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of October, 2023, I am accepting only a limited number of new students as my schedule is very full. If for some reason, I do not accept you and your dog at the end of your evaluation, you will not be charged for the time.

2. The Basics:   After the evaluation, you will start with private lessons to learn some basics. These may be shared with a friend if you wish. You will also be given a log in to the web site so you may watch training videos of things to work on at home. Once you have a few necessary skills, you may choose to join the Novice class or continue with privates or a combination of both. See Classes for further info on this.

While there are some skills that all agility dogs need, what we cover in these private sessions will be geared specifically for you and your dog. As mentioned above, you will also have access to some private training videos so you can work on a number of things at home. That will save you time and money as we can spend your private lesson time on things not covered in the videos and anything you may be having trouble with from the videos.

You are welcome to partner up with a friend to share your private lessons with. This helps give the dogs a break as we can take turns working and also helps financially. You will be given access to the training videos right after your first private lesson.

Cost:   Privates are $70/hour. Private lessons are always payable at the time of the lesson or in advance. And yes, we do start agility training with very young puppies - as young as 8 weeks. Obviously they are too young to jump or work on actual obstacles but there is plenty of fun/work to be done with any age dog before they do these things anyway. And as your puppy is growing up, you will be developing a great relationship whether you go on to compete or not.

Once again, the type of training done is POSITIVE, reward-based training. Dogs are never forced to do anything in agility. I am a strong believer in teaching dogs how to think for themselves (shaping behaviors) which creates a more confident dog. Dogs are allowed to learn at their own pace and are rewarded for making the choices that we like. Just like children, every dog is different. Your dog may not progress at the same rate as other dogs. I embrace these differences and work with each dog as an individual.

SAFETY OF THE DOGS is my first priority. For this reason, we work "on the flat" meaning we don't put the dogs on obstacles until they've had this foundation (and in the case of young dogs, until they also are physically mature enough to safely negotiate them). We work on obstacle approximations such as boards on the floor, boards that wobble a bit, etc. We will be playing lots of fun games with the dogs to teach them that working/playing with you is fun and rewarding. We will also teach your dog jumping basics (bars on the ground for puppies) and tunnels which most dogs love. Dogs less than one year of age should NEVER jump full height (older for giant breeds). In fact, until growth plates close, they shouldn't jump anything higher than their hock. Puppies should also not be taught to weave until growth plates are closed.

I teach all my privates and classes on the assumption that everyone will compete. There are two reasons for this. First, the rules for obstacles are for the safety of the dogs and, as stated earlier, I make sure dogs are physically and mentally ready to safely negotiate them. Secondly, many of us who compete in agility had no intention of competing when we first started but ended up there! Either way, it's lots of fun for you and for your dogs and will help you develop a relationship with your dog unlike any other.

Sound good? Email me with any questions.