It’s always impressive to watch a dog zoom through an agility course, flying over leaps and weaving nimbly around obstacles.
Perhaps you’re unsure if agility is something you and your dog would like. Dog agility is a terrific activity to attempt, whether your goal is to win titles and ribbons or just have fun with your dog while working out yourself. So, let’s learn common agility training exercises.
- 1 What Is Agility Training?
- 2 Why Agility Training Is Good For Your Dog?
- 3 Best Breeds For Agility Training:
- 4 Benefits of Agility Training for Dogs
- 5 Equipment Used In Dog Agility Training:
- 6 Step To Train Your Dog Agility:
- 7 Common Agility Training Exercises:
- 8 How To Prepare A Dog For Training:
- 9 Conclusion:
What Is Agility Training?
Agility training is a special type of training involving a dog and a person called a handler or handler. The athlete’s job is to guide the dog through a course with different types of obstacles. In the process of passing the lane, not only speed indicators are taken into account, but also the level of accuracy of their implementation.
The dog runs without rewards in the form of food or toys. The rules establish that the handler cannot touch his dog or the obstacles used, and the process of controlling the animal is carried out using voice, gestures, and various body signals. This is why agility requires exceptional training of the dog in preparation for the performance.
This is interesting! The conditions of the competition are created in such a way that they allow one to correctly evaluate not only the strengths but also all the weaknesses of each specific pair consisting of a handler and a dog.
The simplest and most common version of an obstacle course is a series of standard objects installed by a judge on an area measuring 30×30 meters. Each such object on the site is provided with a serial number, by which the strip is passed.
Why Agility Training Is Good For Your Dog?
Agility training is a popular activity for dogs of all sizes and breeds. While some breeds, like Australian Shepherds or Border Collies, are regarded as agility superstars, Chihuahuas and Papillons can have obstacles that are any size.
Even the ungainly Basset Hounds can enjoy themselves immensely when they slog through the course. Dog agility is also popular among mixed-breed dogs. The fact that the dog is enjoying himself and enjoys practicing agility with you is what matters most.
Due to the physical demands of dog agility, training modifications are necessary for both older and younger dogs. Begin with an agility fundamentals lesson that excludes leaps from heights or over high bars.
When their growth plates shut, you can begin to introduce more challenging impediments. Find out from your veterinarian when is the ideal time to start training your dog to jump.
Make sure your dog isn’t overdoing it if they are elderly or have movement problems. To suit their skill level, modify the jump heights, A-frame angles, or weave poles.
Make sure your long-backed dog, such a Dachshund or Corgi, doesn’t have additional strain on their spines. Once more, it’s best to consult your veterinarian about your dog’s recommended amount and kind of activity.
Best Breeds For Agility Training:
Even a Chihuahua can show a decent result, but still, some dog breeds are better suited for agility than others.
The canine elite includes Shelties, Welsh Corgis, Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Mudi. All these breeds have helped shepherds herd cattle for centuries.
High intelligence and a close relationship with the owner are inherent in them from birth. They are easier to train and predict the handler’s wishes even before giving a sign.
Despite this feature, owners of other breeds should not despair. They will just have to spend more time and effort, and also take into account the breed characteristics of their four-legged friend:
Terriers: they love to compete with other dogs, but quickly lose concentration because they perceive what is happening as a game;
Rottweilers: cannot stand breaking the rules, so they comply with every little thing, losing their speed of movement because of this;
St. Bernards: St. Bernards are not designed for jumping, so they can overcome only some obstacles;
Shepherd dogs: they amaze with their speed, but often lose points due to technical violations;
Collies: combine the advantages of Rottweilers and Shepherds, but love to vocalize when not needed, which leads to the loss of points.
If your pet enjoys the learning process and the game itself, develop its potential without looking back at more outstanding competitors. There are leaders in every category, but persistence and desire can change even established statistics.
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Benefits of Agility Training for Dogs
Sports discipline helps to maintain good physical shape. Regular training eliminates obesity and prevents urolithiasis and musculoskeletal diseases. In addition to physical health, the psychological component is also important. Conquering an obstacle course for a pet is an exciting game that brings you closer to the owner. Training develops obedience and intelligence. So, let’s know the benefits of agility training for dogs.
Great Physical Activity For Dogs:
Agility is an extremely active canine exercise that is great for high-energy dogs and burns plenty of calories. A dog that possesses agility may also benefit from weight loss and fitness advice.
Dog agility calls for body awareness, flexibility, and strength in addition to endurance. Not only that, but you’ll get a fantastic workout in keeping up with your dog while you run the course to help them navigate hazards.
Improves Mental Stimulation:
Being physically capable of navigating obstacles is not the only requirement for dog agility; your dog also needs to pay attention to your instructions and consider what they are doing. You may give your dog a task and engage their brain by teaching them agility.
Improves Dog-Owner Relationship:
By working through each obstacle together, you and your dog will improve your communication and mutual trust as you practice agility. It’s also enjoyable, and stronger bonds are formed when your dog enjoys himself with you.
Enrolling in agility training or contests gives your dog the courage to take on new challenges. Starting with simple hurdles and succeeding (while having fun) allows cautious or scared dogs to progress to more challenging agility abilities or other challenges.
It’s also an alternative to assist reactive dogs in focusing on diverse surroundings where people and other dogs are nearby but not too close, as your dog will likely be training alone in the agility ring.
Helps To Keep Healthy Weight:
Agility is incompatible with “agile.” It’s all about the base; educating your dog to be conscious of their hindquarters can help maintain optimal physical health.
To effectively navigate around obstacles, they must learn to keep their back paws near the surface. A competent trainer will demonstrate to you how to promote your dog’s fluid, secure gait for both short-term agility and long-term, healthy mobility.
Along with maintaining a healthy weight and making time to warm up and cool down before and after training, part of this responsibility should also involve keeping your dog in excellent physical condition. Please note that there is no guarantee that your dog’s newfound back-end control will stop them from swooshing their tails in delight to knock over wine glasses off coffee tables.
Improve Obedience In Dogs:
You may remember from earlier in this piece that having dogs that are simple to teach will help you in agility training.
Without a doubt, you will both find it easier to finish the agility course the easier your dog can obey your commands.
You’ll have a newfound respect for your dog’s ability to pay attention and obey commands as soon as they finish the course and obey your commands. This gives you more authority and compliance in other contexts as well.
Equipment Used In Dog Agility Training:
Although dog agility equipment can be bought online, making fake obstacles and courses at home is quite simple. A few common home things will suffice, such as:
- Big cardboard box
- A broomstick, two buckets, PVC pipe, and some basic hardware
- Stakes for gardens
Discover how to create a do-it-yourself dog agility course with jumps, tunnels, and weaving poles using these basic objects.
Step To Train Your Dog Agility:
Your dog could require some help participating in agility training because it’s a cognitively demanding activity. Thankfully, we’ve put together a comprehensive ‘dog agility training for beginners guide that you can follow to help you skillfully navigate your dog over all of the obstacles included in agility training.
Your dog needs to know what to concentrate on before they can start the obstacle course. Thus, ensure they are completely prepared to learn and free from distractions (such as nearby dogs). They’ll start strong with this.
Your dog has to have a solid foundation in the fundamentals before moving on to more advanced agility training. Although there isn’t a set number of orders that are universally acknowledged as “essential,” “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “down,” “heel,” “no,” and “off” make sense on the list. After mastering the fundamentals, you’re prepared for something trickier: agility.
There are a lot of amazing tricks you can teach your dog when they are just starting agility training before moving on to the more difficult tasks. Getting your dog to contact your hand with their nose is a fantastic place to start as it will set them on the path to better control.
Once they understand that, you may take things a notch higher by having them circle you.
Take into account your dog’s actual level of fitness while deciding how to begin agility training. If your dog has never done anything more difficult than walk to the front door, it is not a good idea to enroll them in boot camp! If you’re concerned about your dog’s level of fitness, start small and work your way up by increasing the length of their daily walks, gradually increasing the pace, and even going on more walks.
Your dog must first feel completely at ease with you for them to be comfortable participating in agility training. With rewards, you can hone your handling abilities. Treats should be hidden first. After touching your dog and saying something encouraging, such as “good,” give them a treat right away.
Lead your dog carefully towards the first obstacle and release the leash when they are right in front of it to help them focus their attention there. After that, gently prod them to get over the barrier.
Your dog may find this intimidating at first, so don’t press the matter. Simply try again a bit later when they’ve gained more confidence if they don’t feel like taking on the challenge.
Now that your dog has mastered each skill in an obstacle course, it’s time to integrate them all. One by one, go over each obstacle, rewarding your dog with a treat each time they succeed. Remember, you’re asking them to do something pretty cerebral, so they’ll probably find this tiring the first time.
Common Agility Training Exercises:
Agility is a great way to develop a relationship with your puppy and have fun while teaching them fantastic tricks. Practice timed agility events or simply play on dog agility training. The important thing is that the master, like the dog, has fun.
The best way to see your dog do well on the course is to reward him when he gets there. This can be a few treats or frank caresses. If your dog fears an obstacle, you can encourage him to cross it, but if the fear is too strong, do not force him. Come back to it later when he seems more comfortable.
Agility practice should never be stressful. Agility prevents boredom, improves your dog’s physical performance, strengthens his muscles, releases his excitement, increases his confidence, and reduces his fears. So, see below some common agility training exercises.
A Stop Table:
This stop table is an obstacle that your dog must stop on for five seconds. This is not physically hard for the dog, especially since the objective is not to have the highest table possible.
On the other hand, being able to stop when your excitement is at its highest is good proof of learning. Initially, you can give him a treat when he does it so that it almost becomes a reflex.
For the material, you don’t need a special table. With Jodie, I use an old coffee table adapted to her size.
Setting Up a Tunnel:
Create an open tunnel from a children’s play tunnel. Introduce your dog into the tunnel while you wait at the open end with a treat, then pass him through. If he hesitates, encourage him.
It is best to start with a short tunnel. If necessary, buy an agility tunnel. On the agility equipment comparator or at the bottom of this article, I have listed some models for around thirty euros.
Hang a Hoop:
An old tire or Hula Hoop hanging from a PVC frame makes a great game for your dog to jump on. Start with the hoop lowered to the ground and guide your dog through the opening. Gradually increase the height, then do it when you are not holding the hoop, still staying next to it.
Take a Dog Walk:
Create a dog walk with a sturdy board. The width must be limited, around thirty centimeters is the norm. Start by doing the plank on the ground so your puppy can cross. Then afterward, it is possible to make access from the ground to the board located at height.
Remember that the important thing is not to put it as high as possible. If you use weight, sand it well so there are no splinters, and treat it against moisture if your game is constantly left outside.
Build a Balance Board:
Once your puppy has mastered dog walking, you can try a more challenging exercise: the seesaw. Keep her leash tight as she approaches the center, and slowly lower the board to the ground. After a few tries, the dog becomes independent in the exercise.
Establish your balance beam with two sturdy, initially quite low to the ground components, and a plank firmly fastened in the middle.
This is an illustration of what that appears like. As you help your dog get to the first platform, give him or her a treat as a reward.
After that, gently lead him or her to the opposite side of the board so that they can complete the motion by doing a “sit” or a “contact/target touch.”
Put a Hedge:
Start with a small piece of wood picked up from the ground when you walk your dog. Ask your dog to go over it and praise him when he does. Place the jump bar on progressively taller blocks or chairs to raise its height.
Create an enclosed tunnel using an open box with a tarp on one end. You can also use a table covered with a tarp. With this exercise, we see big differences in dogs. Some love it and throw themselves into it, while others fear it.
“Swing” is a projectile made in the form of a board that rotates around its base as the dog moves. For the pet to be able to run up such an obstacle, the shield balance moves slightly to one side, and the athlete gives the command “Swing!”.
Use Cones For Changes of Direction:
Design poles for a slalom or a simple pole that the dog uses to turn around or change direction. Construction cones are very practical, but they can also be large rods. I don’t like taking pieces of wood because it can hurt the dog if he misses it and hits it.
At first, go very slowly. Your walking dog understands the movement. After a little training, he overcomes this agility obstacle at high speed. Gradually bring them closer together as skills increase.
How To Prepare A Dog For Training:
Before starting training, make sure that your pet is familiar with basic commands (“sit”, “lie down”, and “stay”). This will help familiarize him with the obstacles and explain ways of possible interaction. The first training can begin as early as 4-6 months. Then exactly by the year, you can make your debut among juniors.
- When working with puppies, treats give good results, and when working with adults, playful motivation. At first, the animal will have to be guided using a collar and leash. It is necessary to get rid of treats and ammunition as early as possible so as not to be thrown out of the competition for violating the rules.
- Before starting training, you must purchase or independently design all the necessary equipment. Do not try to load your pet with information at the initial stage. Use a step-by-step technique. Don’t grab everything at once.
- Remember that the animal should enjoy the process. To do this, it is important to use praise for any successes. Do not try to scold the dog for his mistakes – he will perfectly understand your dissatisfaction if you simply ignore him or do not praise him for his actions.
- Maintain consistency, spending up to 3 hours a day, but do not overload. A couple of times a week will be enough. Try to avoid monotony by alternating different exercises.
- First, be sure to insure your pet. Pay special attention to puppies with fragile musculoskeletal systems – they will have to lower the height of the apparatus.
- Working with older animals is always more difficult. It’s safer and easier to enroll in special courses led by a dog handler. Pets who are not familiar with basic commands will also have to take a preliminary course.
- Classes in kennel clubs will simulate the situation at competitions. Here, training takes place next to other animals and people – this practice helps to disconnect from extraneous stimuli.
- The pet can only exercise with an instructor, but such exercises disrupt interaction with the owner. The animal gets used to a stranger and shows less good results in competitions. This is why it is important to study together.
Agility is a sport invented specifically for dogs. It is built on teamwork, which helps you bond with your four-legged friend during training.
In sports, you should not look at others, but listen only to yourself. Never compare your pet with more skilled competitors. Develop his skills based on his characteristics. Remember that your pet should enjoy the process, so don’t try to be the best; just enjoy the moment.
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