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Rylee's mama

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So I would like to do agility,earthdog trials,and rally with little Riley. Many people say to start right away. Is that true? If so is 8 weeks too young to start training?

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8 weeks is not too young to start doing "attention" work and teaching things like sit, down, stay, and probably most important for a wee puppy, "leave it."  But Cairns in general and such a young in particular can only focus for brief periods of time. Cairns (and puppies) do not learn well by rote repetition or drilling. 

For puppies it's good to set them up so that the next thing they do is "the right thing." For example, rather than forcing the dog into a down position, if you sit on the floor with your legs splayed and one leg cocked so there is a little place under your knee for them to fit through you can lure them through under your knee (with cheese or happy talk, whatever works) and simply say "Down"  when their belly touches the floor as they creep under your leg/knee.  Likewise if they sit on their own I say out loud "sit!" if I can do it literally microseconds after they do it. I'm not teaching them to sit on command yet, I'm just laying some groundwork and building on a behavior they already know how to do. 

I know nothing of agility, but small dogs should not be worked physically hard (things like distance running and, I would assume, agility jumps and similar exercises) until their long bones have closed and they are more or less developed skeletally. Short sessions resembling the bursts of activity they are doing naturally as puppies is safest.

We had a short (two foot) tunnel section in our house when we brought our first Cairn home. It was simply part of the toys and furniture and we'd say "tunnel" every time she went through it, whether chasing a piece of cheese or just naturally wandering through it. She later became a master earthdog. We weren't really training her for earthdog at that age but we were getting her used to the concept of entering a wooden structure similar to what she would encounter later. 

Most complex behaviors can be broken down into smaller chunks; it's almost always good to train some of those subsections so that when the time comes you can chain them together.  These little sub-actions are often suitable for a puppy. You won't train the full dumbbell retrieve straight away, but you can train "Give!" to teach him to transfer something from his mouth to your hand, or "take it" to put something *into* their mouth, and so on. 

Enjoy! Don't be in a hurry. It's not a race and for Cairns it must *always* be fun.

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12 hours ago, bradl said:

Cairns (and puppies) do not learn well by rote repetition or drilling. 

Agree with what Brad says esp the bit quoted.

I used to compete in obedience trial with a couple of labs who were willing to to go over and over this and that in practice. Terriers  and cairns in particular learn very quickly what to do but frequently only do it if they want to. I also learned that  with cairns of all ages you cannot make them do something by force. You get loud -they get loud right back. Bred to work independently and make their own decisions it is hard for them to act like a retriever or many other working breeds who looks for direction from their trainer. 

I started right away when Angus was a pup with the basics mentioned above. Often and often Angus saw my asking for something as the start of a game.Patience, perseverance and a sense of fun needed. Think agility would be great for any cairn. They are naturally very agile. But for myself I would wait till body fully developed to do anything really strenuous like high jumping and speed running and twisting. Puppies will do all those movements in small ways in their regular growing up.

Re competition. If you are in it to win get a border collie - if you are in it for fun take your cairn.

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Pepper has two great qualities: The recall out of the earthdog den and the command "SIT!".  Other than that she moves on her own terms...


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Pepper's Mom

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Jock was sure I was the half boss, so come inside, called by me, had to be done with the shake of the treat bag! My DH just had to call, Jock get in here, and he always did. Rosie pretends she is deaf.....Jock taught her well....I have to shake the treat bag to get her to come inside!:P 

Terriers got to love them. They are smart enough to train us!

Until one has loved an animal, a part of  one's soul remains unawakened.  - Anatole France

Adventures with Sam &Rosie


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Thank y'all for all the insight. He is already showing signs of being very agile. When I open the gate to our empty Pasture he jumps through the bottom bar and as for earth dog chases a lot ,he digs a lot ,and goes into bushes. He also kind of know the command sit.


Edited by Duck's mama
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  • 2 years later...

I think agility would be great fun, too.  Since I brought my Toto home, he has amazed me with the places he'll squeeze into, or heights he'll climb.  I have to watch him constantly to make sure he stays safe.  I laugh at him because he is so much like a cat in so many ways!

We have a pet behaviorist working with us (Toto bit me twice), and I have been impressed with the work she has me doing with him.  The biting has never happened again.  She trains German Shepherds, and has two agility fields.  As I was leaving, she pointed out that Cairns made great agility dogs -- which I knew, and had thought would be fun to try.

We had a Jack Russell several years back -- one we adopted at 2 for our daughter, and he was absolutely amazing.  He climbed ladders onto the roof of the house.  Problem was, he couldn't figure out how to climb back down, so my husband had to climb up to the edge to get him.  The first time we were aware he could, and would, do such, he scared a roofer so badly until the poor fellow almost fell off the roof, himself.  Cosmos came up from behind, and 'goosed' him.

The JRT would climb trees.  I don't know whose little face was funnier -- his, or the cat's, when he followed Tiger up the tree and onto a branch at about 15 feet.  Smug cat sat there for all of about five seconds before Cosmos was on the branch with him.

We loved his antics.

I'd like to see if my little Cairn would be interested in doing agility.  He loves running 90 mph around the yard, trying to catch the neighbor's Lab who'll play with him.


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