Are you thinking of letting your pooch join dog agility training? It can be a wonderful sport for you and your furry friend. There is an age limit for dogs but no age restriction for handlers. Izzy Taylor, a four-year-old girl, won hearts in this year’s Crufts competition as she confidently guides her Staffordshire bull terrier through the agility course of the said event. So how should dog owners start agility training with their dogs?
Dog agility training is a way of forming a positive bond with your furry friend and at the same putting his instincts at work. It is a popular canine sport in which a handler accurately directs his/her dog through different obstacles as fast as they can. This article discusses the basic exercises for dog agility training as well as the equipment for beginners.
What are the benefits of agility?
Agility engagements benefit both the owner and the dog in so many ways.
Agility will put your dog’s natural instincts to work.
Part of your dog’s natural instinct is to chase and run around to anything it perceives as prey. In other words, it is renowned as a hunter even back the ancient times. As it navigates through the forest following a rabbit or a fox, it involves jumping, climbing or squeezing its way through bushes. With that, its focus is solely on having the most satisfying meal. That being said, the dog is driven to move strategically fast. Agility courses are made exactly to mimic such natural scenarios.
Agility will physically benefit you and your dog.
This is the most apparent benefit when it comes to agility courses.
This boosts your dog’s endurance:
- Gets rid of the excess energy by running over the obstacles
- Strengthen his muscles
- Increase endurance
- Develop coordination
- Keep him fit and prevent obesity
As well as keeping you in shape when you run alongside and assist him over the course.
- Serves as a cardiovascular workout
Agility will mentally challenge you and your dog.
Over the years, courses have become more and more challenging.
“…now designed to challenge the handler as much as the dog. They are not simple straight-line courses of the yesteryear. These courses now demand more strategic ways of execution, trying to save steps here and there whilst making sure the dog understands and responds to your choreographed moves,” cited Beth Hemmer, a veteran of agility training and competitions.
Agility strengthens the bond between you and your dog.
Agility physically, mentally, and socially benefits you and your dog. Over the course, it will require you to train with basic commands both in verbal and hand instruction. This will test and improve the trust between the owner and the dog.
What are dog agility trials?
An agility course usually consists of 14 to 20 obstacles. These are designed to test a dog’s coordination, balance, and speed as well as his jumping and climbing ability. The communication between the dog and his handler will also be judged.
The objective is to let the handler direct the dog’s direction and to let the dog navigate throughout the obstacles. Common obstacles include:
There are varying jumps employed in agility such as single jumps, double jumps, triple jumps, broad jumps, panel jumps, winged and non-winged jumps, and tire or hoop jumps. Note that the height of the jumps should depend on the size of the dog.
This is not a simple walk but a walk on a balance beam that’s three to four feet in the air. Let the canine run up the ramp, along the beam, and down to the descending ramp.
A-frame is another dog agility training equipment that has two ramps hinged together. This requires the canine to climb over the apex and touch the “contact zone” upon ascending and descending.
The dog should run ahead going up the board and down to the other side. He should touch the “contact zone” whilst descending with at least one toenail.
A minimum of 6 up to 12 vertical poles should be outlined. The dog should soon enter the first one at the right and weave its way through each of it as quickly as possible without missing one. It is said to be the trickiest obstacle to ace.
Tunnels usually measure from 15 to 20 feet long. The goal is to let the dog come in from one side and exit through the other.
This obstacle requires a stretch of control and patience. The objective is to let the dog get on the table and stay for five seconds. In competitions, seconds are counted by the judges.
Dog training agility: How to get started?
For starters, buying your own set of equipment is a big leap. If you think both of you and your dog might enjoy this kind of training, start with some dog agility training clubs near you.
The following are the things to look for in a trainer:
- Primarily focuses on the safety and security of your dog.
- Uses motivational and positive methods when training.
Know that you don’t have to compete in dog agility competitions to participate in dog agility training. Instead, it is a way of having fun with your furry friend!