Want to Train Your Dog in Agility? Read This First
Whether your dog is a poodle or pug, a borzoi or border collie, agility is a great way to get the two of you in shape and bond at the same time. But be aware that before you sign up for those classes or start buying or building jumps, there are a few things you should know.
1) Agility is a sport that entails a lot of running and jumping.
Therefore, before your dog starts, they should be physically able to run and jump. A good idea is to take your dog to a vet and have them evaluated for any structural issues. If your dog enjoys running, doesn’t mind the presence of other dogs, has reached maximum maturity, size, and weight, and will come when you call, you’re off to a good start.
2) Dogs can begin agility training at any age.
It’s always a good idea to begin a conditioning program first for yourself and your dog. Agility requires a lot of fast running! If you have a puppy, he can start training at any time, although jumping should be restricted until they reach the age when their growth plates close. Instead, they can run over poles lying on the ground. They can learn the concepts of off-leash control, focus and attention, and how to navigate the tunnel and weave poles and other ground-based obstacles.
3) They should be socialized well with other dogs.
If your dog is reactive toward other dogs or people, agility is not the way to cure it. Competitions and classes will be held in situations that involve a lot of other dogs and handlers, with a lot of noise and confusion. Your dog should be pretty well-socialized and enjoy meeting both people and other dogs. He should be able to perform reliably off the leash. He should know basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, lie down, and come.
4) Figure out what motivates your dog.
Will your dog do anything for a strip of bacon? Or is a tennis ball more their thing? Figure out what these tools are, and use them! Before competing, they will have to be weaned off this reward system, at least temporarily. But positive reinforcement is the best way to train new behaviors.
5) Find a trainer who can help you.
Agility is ever-growing in popularity, and it shouldn’t be difficult to find classes in your area. Check out Yelp for reviews, and ask your veterinarian for recommendations. A good teacher can show you how to maneuver your dog on the left or right side and help you teach your dog to hit the target areas. Instructors also know the rules of competitive agility and can help you and your dog advance to that level if you have an interest in going that far.
6) Have fun!
Above all, agility is a way to spend quality time with your dog. The physical activity can resolve a host of behavioral problems. If you have a sedentary job or lifestyle, it is a good way to get you off the couch too. A dog who is focused in the ring can be focused outside of the arena as well, and you can learn methods to keep him that way. The time spent on training is always valuable and can create a more obedient dog in many other situations. Agility is a good way to meet new friends. You may find yourself immersed in a whole new hobby and maybe even a new passion! Enjoy the new activity and hours spent with your best friend.