Agility Right from the Start: Foundation Skills

This Session is about agility right from the start! Foundation skills form the core of agility, and are valuable not only in the beginning of your training but throughout your career. Agility is a complex sport and fun and successful training comes from building the needed skills bit by bit. In this Session, you’ll learn both what to train and how to train it!

Attendees will learn the basics of clever clicker training for agility using our two favorite strategies to get behavior: “aim for it” and “race to reward.” You’ll also learn trainer and handler skills, reward requirements, transports, and useful foundation skills such going between/over/under and creating noise and movement. These things are important for trainers to know because both you and your dog will have more fun and be more successful when you get things right from very beginning. By teaching yourself and your dog all the foundation skills, you set the stage for success and lay the base for fast, independent, and reliable obstacle performance. Through our foundation training, proper handling (your body-language cues) is built-in right from the start, establishing good habits for both you and your dog. In short, this Session will cover everything you need to know about agility training!

Eva and Emelie’s vivid lecturing style is accompanied by lots of examples and demonstrations on stage and on video.

Even though the Session focuses on agility, the principles and ideas presented are valuable to all trainers who compete in canine sports. Because the ideas presented are novel, even the most experienced agility competitor will find this information valuable.

Eva Bertilsson | Emelie Johnson Vegh

Eva Bertilsson has a master’s degree in behavior analysis and a passion for all things related to behavior, learning, and animal welfare. Always fascinated by the processes of learning and teaching, she grew up with horses, rabbits, and other animals and ventured into dog training in the early 1990s. For many years Eva spent most of her time training and competing in agility, obedience, and other dog sports. Nowadays she focuses mostly on helping others, working as an educator in a wide variety of settings—from puppy classes at the local dog club to husbandry training in zoological settings to seminars for teachers on the science of behavior.

Together with business partner Emelie Johnson Vegh, Eva runs their collaboration Carpe Momentum. Eva and Emelie's goal is to help people acquire knowledge and skills in science-based, modern, humane, and empowering teaching strategies for the benefit of learners of all species. They teach seminars on the general principles of behavior and learning, and coach trainers in the art of structuring great training sessions regardless of the venue or the species. 

“E&E” are the first TAGteach faculty members in Europe, offering consultations and workshops about applying positive reinforcement techniques with human learners in all imaginable areas. The colleagues’ first book, Agility Right from the Start, was published by Karen Pryor Clicker Training (KPCT) in 2010. The book outlines Emelie and Eva’s philosophy and structured approach to training, making it a worthy read not just for agility enthusiasts.

Eva has also been directing a Swedish regional government project aimed at improving behavior management practices in the animal-care industry, with missions ranging from teaching positive reinforcement training to high school students and their teachers, to building a Fear Free veterinary care community in Scandinavia. 

Eva lives in the village Ljungskile, on the west coast of Sweden and north of Gothenburg, but spends much of her time traveling. Border collie Tizla makes sure Eva’s free time is filled with outdoor activities and enriching training projects.

Emelie Johnson Vegh began training dogs as a teenager, after many years of involvement with horses. Her first dog was a mixed breed that competed successfully in both agility and obedience. Emelie's first Border terrier came into her life in 1994; all together she has had three terriers. The Border terriers have been involved in agility primarily, but also in some freestyle and ground work.

In 2009, a Kelpie made an entrance into the family. With her, Emelie is working in rally obedience, obedience, and freestyle, and they also enjoy urban mushing. Emelie and her dogs have won medals at the Swedish Nationals, both as youths and as adults, with a silver team medal as the best placement.

Emelie lives in the very south of Sweden, in the country's third largest city, Malmö. She shares her life with her husband, two sons, a daughter, and Kelpie, Scout. In addition to dog sports, she enjoys training in general, and is very interested in sports psychology, running, multisport, and yoga. Emelie is also an author of fiction novels.