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We have a 15 month-young boy name George. He has passed the Canine Good Citizen test when he was 11 months young. We would like to give him and us something interesting to do to keep his mental ability challenged.

My husband has recently started thinking about starting the little boy in agility training. However, I'm concerned about his physical condition. George currently weights about 50lb, and he is still in the process of filling out his body. His right front paw is very bowed out, almost at a 90 degree angle. I'm worry that the amount of jumping and climbing involved in the training will be detrimental to his joint and leg in the future. I met a lady that has two basset hounds in agility competition this past Saturday, she suggested us start training in tracking instead. I like the idea very much, however, my husband does not seem to be very thrilled about this. He thinks tracking does not involve enough exercise. George is an extremely active boy, that's why my husband wants to start him in agility. But my thoughts on tracking is bassets are bred to track and hunt, the nature of tracking is in their genes.

So we are in hot argument over which kind of training to do. I do not like to do obedience, too much stress, in my opinion, and it is against a basset's nature B) . So, please give us some advise which kind of training is better for a basset boy. And is it going to cause any physically damage in the future if we do agility?
 

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Hi There,
I took one agility training class with one of my girls, and after she fell of the dog walk, I bailed. And looking at those little bodies with those big chests, all that repeated jumping just makes me nervous. There are Bassets in Agility, though, and there's an active list on Yahoo groups.
My older dog (now 7) is tracking and she loves it. It is good exercise, both for you and your dog--the steady type that fits those little squatty bodies well. I do have to disagree with your take on obedience, though. Both of my Bassets have enjoyed the training a lot. It can be a big game for them. I do think the upper levels of Obedience, especially Utility, can be stressful for any dog, and especially for our Bassets, who are more tuned into us and maybe less resilient about stress than some of the retrieving and herding breeds. But then, for all I know, advanced tracking is too--I've not gotten that far. No matter what performance activity you select, I'll bet you'll enjoy it a lot with your Basset. People love them and are very supportive.
 

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Great question and, unless I'm mistaken, you'll get strong opinions both ways. Here's mine:

Agility is easier to train than formal obedience, you can train a dog to competition level in agility faster than in formal obedience, and it's a fast, colorful sport, hence its attractions over obedience. However, most bassets are not suited to agility, for structural reasons. Although I used to train and compete with my bassets in agility, I now feel that, for bassets, agility constitutes borderline abuse. :angry: I guess that's a pretty strong opinion. ;)

Although you're not interested in formal obedience, you might consider Rally, which is much less stressful than obedience--you can verbally encourage the dog and repeat commands. A rally novice title doesn't involve any jumping, and all exercises are performed entirely on leash. :)

That said, I vote for tracking. :) Most bassets take to tracking like ducks to water, and it's very satisfying to work with your dog in an activity for which he has natural aptitude. Here's my standard info for people who are interested in starting their dogs in tracking:

I start my beginners on a 6 ft. leash and buckle collar. When they have a good understanding of the basic idea, I move to a harness and longer tracking line.

Starting is pretty straightforward. I use food--good smelly stuff like hotdogs, cheese, or liver treats. I rub a bit on the toes of my shoes, take scuffing baby steps and put a little piece of food down every step or two to start. You want to lay your starter tracks in short, straight lines or very gentle curves to begin with, and they don't need to be more than 20-50 steps long. At the end of the track, you want to lay an article (glove, sock, etc.,) and put food in it, on top of it, and underneath it. Finding this article is the goal. Put a marker, like a sprinkler flag at the start of the track and at the end, and as your tracks get longer, put a flag or two along the track, so you'll know where it is. Also when you return to the dog, arc around and give the fresh track a wide berth; don't cross over it.

You'll need to figure out what to do with the dog while you lay her tracks; consider leaving her in the car or having someone hold her. Having someone hold her near the start works well to get her revved up.

As the dog progresses, tracks get longer, turns are introduced, age and more turns are added. The food also gets faded.

Here are some excellent articles by Craig Greene, longtime basset owner and tracking judge.

Craig Green's Tracking Articles

Here are some other references that are usually available through vendors like Dogwise or 4-M Dog Books

Tracking from the Ground Up, Sandy Ganz and Sue Boyd (another Basset person and tracking judge)

Enthusiastic Tracking: The Step-by-Step Training Handbook, Sil Saunders

Bring Your Nose Over Here, Wentworth Brown--hard to find, but worth the effort. Various obedience and tracking clubs have copies for sale.

You can also subscribe to the Tracking_Dog e-mail list.[/b]
 

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No doubt it is faster to train a dog to be able to start competing in agility than formal obedience, the difference is it’s often much easier to train the dog than it is to train the human for agility, and the upper reaches of both require a large dedication of time and effort.

For the most part agility is an anaerobic sport like sprnting and requires a different type of fitness than aerobic sports like tracking is. From a human health prospectice aerobic activity is associated with better health not anaerobic but I do not now of any real scientific study on the effects of either activity on the health and well being of dogs.

The number of male bassets that are/were competative in agility can be counted on one hand, not that there are many of either sex but the vast perponderance of comeptative agility bassets are female for good reason.

Agility is general the most expensive dog activity because of the cost of the equipment involved.

For the bottom line it is quite simple No one on this board is quailfied to determine if George is at risk by participating in agility. The first step is consulting with an orthopeadic vet that has reasonable knowledge of basset conformation. Second keep in mind agility training does not have to have competing as a goal. One can have fun and train at non-competative jump heights. Third , there are agility venues in which a 14" or shorter basset of a young age can compete jumping only 4" others that let you choose a jump height and some that have games/competitions that envolve no jumping what so ever. Fourth, I have a problem with the basic premise of train agility or tracking or obedience or.... there is no reason you can not try it all and see what you and the dog enjoy the most. Personnally it is my belief that the dog will excel at what the human finds easiest/most enjoyable to train. It is not that the dog finds formal obedience booring and mundane rather it is the human doing the training that does and the results obtained reflext it.

I use to have a thread on the perforamance board about getting started in agility however it has been corrupted but it basically the same informantion can be found here how do you train your dog in agility

some basic and important facts included in the above link that must be addressed before agility training.

1. I never started jump training with a basset untill it as at least 2 years old however there is plenty of there foundation work to be done.

2. The dogs weight is critical. Toughynutter the dog in the avatar was 62# when we started training and the skinniest basset around when competing he weight was 48# and he stood slighty more than 15" . Ideally you want a weight in pound to height in inches ratio of 2 to 1 or less for agility competition which is never going to happen with a basset hound however a ratio of 4 to 1 or great is a high risk for injury all the basset I compete with have been slightly over 3 to 1.

RTHOPEDIC PROBLEMS IN DOGS
"Dogs are born to run. Well, most breeds, anyway. By looking at them, Bassets, for example, don't seem to be built for speed and agility. But in their hearts they, like all dogs, have an innate drive to run, jump, play and seek out new and interesting vistas! And in the process of their quest to cover ground as fast as possible, dogs do sustain orthopedic injuries very similar to human athletic injuries. An orthopedic injury refers to damage to the skeletal system or associated muscles, joints and ligaments.

Most at risk for orthopedic injuries are the Greyhounds and Coursing dogs, sled dogs, hunting dogs, security dogs and Search and Rescue dogs. But every veterinarian sees non-athletic housedogs with orthopedic difficulties. Orthopedic injuries to active dogs are an inevitable outcome of the high stress demanded of the body structures. In housedogs, orthopedic problems seem most often to have two common predisposing factors… the dog being overweight and the “weekend warriorâ€�. Any overweight dog will be excessively stressing bone, muscles, joints and ligaments while engaged in active physical exercise. Jumping over obstacles, playing Frisbee, or exuberant retrieving of far-flung tennis balls can test the limits of anatomical structures. When there is any question about a dog’s weight, opt for keeping the dog slightly thin rather than slightly heavy.

The “weekend warrior� runs a risk of orthopedic injury (even if not overweight) because of lack of conditioning in tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. Especially in middle aged and older dogs, an infrequent 4-hour bout of vigorous exercise is less desirable than 8 thirty-minute play periods. Back pain, and even intervertebral disc prolapse that has an adverse impact on spinal cord function, can result in poorly conditioned dogs that are unaccustomed to long periods of physical activity. Try to keep your dog physically fit by frequent (not necessarily long) periods of activity and you will help keep excess weight from sneaking up on your canine athlete, too!"

I do not know what you mean when you say his left front leg is bows out . FWIW the male "Toughynutter (see avatar) had straight pointing feet and during is life was acurately described as "The World Slowest Agility Dog" the two girl when sitting had outward pointing feet. Mariah's point nearly 90 degrees to direction she is facing but is one of the fastest agility bassets ever and the only Baset hound to earn a USDAA top ten title. More important is how the dog moves most of the time the feet when the dog is in motion face straight ahead.
 

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What ever you decide to do, let us know how it goes.
 

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I posted a video of my 4 month female (Jesse) in our local Agility Puppy class. The video is kinda crude and it's 4:19 so you don't have to watch it all. This is just the beginning class where the handler introduces the puppy to the equipment and such. I found out she won't do much unless there's a liver treat waiting for her! All that to say, if you're interested in trying it, here's a little of what you may encounter.

View Video
 

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I posted a video of my 4 month female (Jesse) in our local Agility Puppy class.
She's sure cute--and the video quality is good on my computer. You probably want to be sure your instructor is familiar with BAsset pups and their bone structure--the agility folks can comment on this, but I think it's no jumping for the first year?
 

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She's sure cute--and the video quality is good on my computer. You probably want to be sure your instructor is familiar with BAsset pups and their bone structure--the agility folks can comment on this, but I think it's no jumping for the first year?[/b]
any time is arbitrary because each dog is different, You general want to wait until the growth plates close before asking the dog to jump any higher than their elbow. Personnal I have never did any jump training with a dog until it was 18 months old. generally speaking the bigger the dog the more time until the growth plates close.

I don't recall any jumping in the video. That said I prefer all agility traing be do off leash, If one does not have the necessary off leash control that would be where I would start before getting serious in obstacle training, THere is also a bunch of other foundation work that requires no obstacles that is good for starting a puppy. You will find as people become more experience in agility training they spen more time on foundation training and less on the actual obstcals because a solid foundation make obstacle training much easier and more effective.
 
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