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Basic Agility Training: Are You Ready to Play by the Rules?

The Basics of Dog Agility Training

Agility training is a fast growing dog sport that has relatively recent (Circa late 1970’s) roots in the UK. Agility “courses” are made up of variety of obstacles that a dog must successfully maneuver in a timely fashion.  Climbing, weavings, tunneling and jumping are just a few of the tasks that will meet a dog and his or her handler in any given agility competition.  The winner is determined by evaluating course time and total number of faults.  The quickest time with the least amount of faults earns one lucky canine competitor first place.

Agility training transcends basic obedience training and requires dedication by the owner or handler.  If you’re interested in agility training for your dog, consider these 5 basic rules:

Rule #1  Know When You’re Ready

Much like any human sport, dog agility training takes dedication.  If you wish to fully take part in agility exercises and competition, you must be able to make a daily commitment to training efforts.  Being “ready” doesn’t just apply to the level of dedication you may have.  In addition to commitment, you will  need to determine if your dog is physically ready for this specific level of training and competition.  Typically, your dog should be fully grown and in good physical condition. If you are unsure of whether or not your dog is ready, consult your vet.

Rule #2   Make it Fun!

While agility training can lead to involvement in a serious canine sport, it’s important to make sure your dog is having fun.  Keeping training fun will engage your dog and ultimately result in a better overall performance.  Games, dog treats and encouraging tones are great ways to keep your dog happy while you provide instruction. Likewise, never show your anger on the course.  Punishing your dog for a poor performance will do more harm than it ever could good.

Rule #3  Begin with Basic Obedience

It’s vital that your dog understand simple commands before entering into agility training.  Basic obedience training will increase your dog’s vocabulary, build a bond between you and your dog and make it easier to teach the new commands necessary for successful agility competition. Basic obedience is the first step of the agility journey.

Rule #4  Be Deliberate with Direction

Directions and how you give them can make or break any attempt at agility training. As you and your dog make your way through tunnels, jumps, poles and contact zones offer firm instruction.  Look at the obstacle, signal for the desired action, and firmly command your dog to throughout the maneuver. 

Rule #5  Monitor and Correct

As your dog makes his or her way through an agility course, be sure to monitor their performance and rectify any bad habits or deficiencies in their performance.  Correcting poor performance or inconsistencies early on will help to avoid any deep rooted faults in the long run.

 

When done properly, agility training is a great way to increase the mental and physical capabilities of your dog while increasing that natural bond between man and his best friend.  Think you and your dog can handle it?  If so, agility training and then competition may be for you.  Remember --the effort and time spent will be well worth what you and your dog achieve in the end.

 



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