The activity requires dogs to learn new maneuvers, making it ideal for intelligent canines that need to expend physical and mental energy.
The sight of happy dogs racing around an agility course, jumping over obstacles, zipping through tunnels, and weaving between poles is enough to pique the interest of any pet parent in dog agility training.
What would it take to transform your canine companion into an athlete? Would your pet like it? How about you? Learn more about dog agility training and how to get started if you decide to teach your dog in this sport.
What Is Dog Agility Training?
Agility training teaches your dog how to navigate obstacle courses. Andy Hartman, vice president of the United States Dog Agility Association and an agility judge, explains that the goal is to guide your dog using voice and hand signals rather than a leash. Your dog will be encouraged to leap over hurdles, weave through a line of poles, and traverse ramps and seesaws throughout training. In contests, the speed at which canine competitors finish courses is measured.
Why Agility Training is Beneficial for Dogs
Like other canine activities, agility is physically and intellectually beneficial for dogs. It gives exercise to maintain the health and fitness of dogs. It also lowers boredom-related behaviors including as barking, digging, and destruction of household items.
“Boredom is not just caused by a lack of physical activity,” explains Hartman. “Dogs that spend their days at home with minimal stimulation engage in undesirable behavior because they are bored. When there is no outlet for their brains, working-dog breeds are more prone to more destructive tendencies.”
Dog agility training is a cerebral exercise for puppies since they must learn new commands and how to navigate new obstacle courses. These obstacles keep their brains active. “Agility may be fantastic for senior dogs who may move at a slower rate, but still need cerebral stimulation,” Hartman explains.
In addition to the physical and mental advantages, dog agility training may also improve your dog’s social skills. Going to practice and contests gives dogs several opportunity to meet different people and animals. Hartman notes that since your dog receives so much positive reinforcement during agility competitions, he or she may develop more confident in unfamiliar environments and among strangers.
Best Agility Dog Breeds
Herding breeds, such as border collies and Shetland sheepdogs, are often linked with becoming top-tier agility competitors. However, any dog may enjoy the sport. Hartman claims that Chihuahuas, Siberian huskies, small poodles, and mixed-breed dogs participate in agility. Many of the contestants are really former rescue dogs.
In contests, dogs are categorized by height and experience. Therefore, smaller dogs compete on smaller leaps than larger canines. Senior dogs have a decreased jumping ability.
Dog Agility Training Equipment
It is possible to buy dog agility equipment online, but it is not difficult to construct imitation courses and obstacles at home. Only a few household things are required, including:
- Large package of cardboard
- Two pails and a broomstick
- PVC pipe and some fundamental hardware
- Garden stakes
Learn how to construct a do-it-yourself dog agility course with jumps, tunnels, and weaving poles using these basic objects.
How to Begin with Canine Agility
Before beginning dog agility training, your puppy should be crate-trained, able to establish eye contact with you, and responsive to these cues: “crate,” “make eye contact,” and “come.”
- Come when summoned (recall)
Once your dog has mastered these foundations, you can determine whether or not he enjoys agility training. At local pet fairs and expos, you can often test out agility equipment in rings. Hartman states that a trainer will assist you in guiding your dog through an uncomplicated obstacle course. Find a local dog agility training club and inquire as to whether you may attend an introduction session or enroll in agility lessons at a dog training facility.
“Agility training is a fantastic approach to strengthen your relationship with your dog,” adds Hartman. “To properly navigate a course, you must establish a clear channel of communication with your dog. You and your dog become synchronized.”
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