What Is Dog Agility Training
Besides helping to make your dog healthy, active, and happy, dog agility training gives you something fun and exciting to do with your dog.
The skills learned in agility dog training will also help you to become a better dog owner and trainer.
Some dogs develop behavioral problems because they are bored. Dogs are built to be active and not sit around. Most times, when a dog is not engaged in an activity, it finds its own.
This often leads him to engage in unwanted activities such as chasing smaller animals, children, moving vehicles, digging up the yards, chewing up clothes and furniture, barking among others.
The daily walk or run is not enough to satisfy the physical activity needs of certain dogs. They need agility training to give them the physical and mental stimulation they require.
What is Agility Dog Training?
Dog agility is a fast-paced and competitive sport that tests and improves your dog’s physical and athletic abilities. It also enhances your dog’s obedience skills and the dog handling skills of the dog parent.
In agility dog training, dog handlers and their dogs are expected to compete by going through an obstacle course. The dog handlers will direct their dogs to pass through hurdles, see-saws, ramps, tunnels, and poles.
Agility training is best started as early home as possible, at the age of 1-2 years. Puppies are not good with the agility training since they are prone to injuries when carrying the activities involved.
However, you can start introducing your puppy to some agility training activities and the basic obedience training.
As a puppy, he can enroll in an obedience training class where he is taught how to sit, stay, heel, come and lie down. These classes will also help your dog to get familiar with staying with other dogs and strangers.
Tips for Agility Dog Training
Understand Your Dog
Agility training is a sport that is fast paced and requires a lot of jumping and running. It is a good idea to find out if your dog is physically sound to partake in such an activity.
It is also important to know the temperament of your dog. if your dog does not like to run or does not get along with other dogs, it is best to get him started on that first, before starting the agility training.
If you are really sure what your dog can or cannot do, enroll him in a beginner class and find out for yourself.
Do you enjoy physical activities, or do you want to use the agility training to form a stronger bond with your dog? Just as you need to find out whether your dog should participate in the agility training, you should find out if you are ready too.
Agility dog training is a sport that requires a lot of running and physical activities. You need to know if you are physically and medically certified fit to participate in rigorous physical activities.
If you are not supposed to engage in rigorous physical activity, you can get tutor or trainer for your dog while you sit and watch or maybe give verbal cues.
Start Early Enough
As a puppy, your dog can start preparing for the agility training. you can start by training your dog to sit, stay, lie down, come, jump, and fetch.
Jumps could be left out of the preparations till his bones are strong enough. You can let your dog take walks on different surfaces and on slopes.
Tunnels that are short can also be introduced to get the puppy familiar with confined and dark places.
Get Out and About
Agility training requires your dog to stay around other dogs. Although the training might involve the dog and its owner, the competition itself with bring other dogs and dog owners together.
Your dog should be able to obey commands off leash and focus on the tasks at hand without being distracted by the presence of other strangers and other dogs.
Your dog should be able to allow other people apart from the owners to oversee them or to pet them.
Find Out What Motivates Your Dog
While some dogs are motivated by treats, some are motivated by praise or toys. Find out what motivates your dog and use it to get him to do all the courses involved in the training.
Some training school however do not allow dog handlers to use treats or other forms of food to motivate their dog in the obstacle course since it can get a bit messy. Most judges recommend toys or balls instead.
It is a clever idea to get your dog to develop an interest in a toy and use that as motivation during the agility training. You can go ahead to shower your dog with treats and love when the training is over.
Get Trained First
Agility dog training is a team sport for dogs and dog owners. Your dog needs to learn the perfect skills if he is to win a prize in the competition.
Your dog needs to be taught the exact steps and guided to carry them out perfectly. As a dog owner, you can only achieve this if you know the activities perfectly and also know how to train your dog to carry them out.
It is therefore recommended that you get trained so that you can professionally train your dog. some dog training organization have their specific requirements and pattern of conducting their exercises.
It is a great idea to get trained on the requirements and specific standards used by the organization you are getting your dog enrolled in.
Set Goals for You and Your Dog
Decide if you and your dog is enrolling in the training to win a prize or just to have some fun. This will help you to set goals that you and your dog needs to achieve.
When setting goals, put the skills and abilities of your dog into consideration. This will enable you to make plans that won’t underutilize the skills of your dog or overstress him.
Agility dog training is an opportunity to build a relationship and form stronger bonds with your dog. it does not really matter if you win a prize or not.
What really matters is that you and your dog are having an enjoyable time and learning new things. Make sure that whatever you and your dog are doing makes both of you happy.
Dog Agility Training Procedures
In agility dog training, there are a variety of obstacles such as tunnels, weave poles, pause tables, jumps, and seesaws that the dog must pass through off-leash.
There are several activities involved in the agility training. They are:
They are used in agility training and must be touched by a dog by at least one paw on specific spots. There are several contact obstacles used in agility such as
i. The dog-walk. The dog walk is a balance beam for dogs.
ii. The see-saw. The seesaw is playground equipment which consist of a longboard with a pivot in the center.
iii. The A-frame. The A-frame is a cone-shaped walkway. The dog must walk on the inclined board to the other side
When training your dog how to make contacts with the contact obstacles, you can drop treats on different spots on the obstacle where the dog must touch.
This will make your dog to touch specific points on the obstacle while trying to get the treats.
How to Teach Your Dog to Walk on the Constant Obstacle
Put your dog on a leash. Move the obstacle to the lowest position as possible.
Give the command you had planned for the contact obstacle. Lead your dog towards the obstacle and help him go over it. You can use treats trail to get your dog’s attention
If your dog is not willing to get on to the obstacle, try getting him on top of it and lead him down the slope. Repeat this until your dog becomes comfortable with the obstacle. Once this happens, your dog will become eager to do the activity repeatedly.
How to Train Your Dog to Go Through Tunnels
Dogs always find the tunnel easier to attempt than other agility equipment. You can make it easier for your dog to attempt by starting off with a short tunnel. Your dog is more likely to start entering the tunnel if he can see the other side.
To also make it easier for your dog to attempt entering the tunnel, somebody can show your dog his favorite toy through the hole.
Lead your dog to the entrance of the tunnel and give the command. Your dog should move to the other side. If he does not, throw some treats into the tunnel and give the command again.
As your dog gets comfortable with going through the tunnel, stop other means of luring him with the treats and guns. As the training progresses, you can introduce your dog to longer and collapsed tunnels.
How to Train Your Dog to Weave Poles
This is a difficult obstacle to master. Weave poles are simply poles set up in a line that your dog has to weave through. Patience and a lot of practice is needed to learn this skill. Follow these steps to teach your dog to weave through poles:
Place the poles far apart.
Put your dog on a leash and lead him to weave through the poles. You could start by making the weave yourself before leading your dog through the poles.
Repeat the process over and over until the dog can weave through the poles without a treat trail or mimicking you.
Move the poles closer together and let your dog pass through them by twisting his body.
How to Teach Your Dog to Jump Over Hurdles
Start by placing the hurdle as low as possible. the height of the hurdle should also be set while considering the size of your dog.
If your dog is of a small breed, consider placing the hurdle flat on the floor. Put your dog on a leash and guide it over the hurdle.
Give the command, move towards the hurdle, and jump over it. Your dog is likely to mimic you and jump too.
If your dog is finding it difficult to jump over the hurdle, try setting up the hurdle in a narrow hallway where your dog will have no choice than to jump over the hurdle.
When your dog jumps over the hurdle, give him a lot of treat and praise. As your dog jumps over the hurdle comfortably, gradually increase the height of the hurdle.
The different jumps used in the agility training are
- Bar Jumps. Your dog should be able to jump over the top bar without toppling it. Your dog should also jump over the bar to the direction chosen by you.
- Tire Jump. Your dog should be able to jump through the opening in the tire without knocking it over.
- Broad Jump. Your dog has to jump over some low jumps at the same time.
- Panel Jump. Your dog should jump over the top panel of this jump without knocking it over.
- Double Jump. Your dog should be able to jump over the two bars without toppling any of them.
- Triple Jump. Your dog should be able to jump over the three bars without displacing them.
How to Teach Your Dog to Sit on The Pause Table
Your dog must jump on to the pause table and stay for a specific amount of time during the agility training.
Getting your dog to jump on this platform might not be such a stress, since it is not higher than the couch your dog is already used to hopping on. Dropping a treat on top of the pause table can get your dog to hop on it.
The task in this training is getting your dog to stay on the pause table. Dogs are full of life and very active. Your dog might find it difficult to sit and stay on the pause table since he might be eager to move on to other obstacles in the agility training.
The way forward is to give your dog an obedience training prior to this training. Once your dog can sit and stay on command, he can sit and stay on the pause table once you give the command.
If your dog still finds it difficult to stay on the pause table, offer a treat even he stays for at least one second. Slowly increase the interval for the rewards until he can stay as long as the training requires.
When your dog can stay as long as the training requires, which is about 5 seconds, introduce distractions. This will make your dog cope with the agility test environment since there will be other dogs and dog handlers.
How to Create an Agility Training Obstacle Course for Your Dog at Home
Dog walk: Place a piece of plywood on two blocks.
Weave Poles: Stick some PVC pipes into the ground. Let them be far apart from each other to allow your dog to pass through.
Pause Table: A low wooden table can be used as a pause table.
Jumps: Place blocks on top each other to achieve the desired height. Place a strip of wood or a strong PVC pipe on top so that the dog can jump over it.
Tire Jump: An old tire can be hung on a tree using a strong rope. The tire should be large enough for your dog to pass through. The tire should be hung low enough for your dog to be able to jump up to.
Tunnels: A plastic children tunnel can be used. This can be bought from a store.
Teeter-totters: You can build this by placing wood over a large pipe. Drill a hole on the sides of the pipe and on the wood. Pass a carriage bolts through the holes and through the wood. Tighten the bolts with a nut to hold the wood and the pipe together.
Benefits of The Dog Agility Training
Some of the benefits of the dog agility training are:
- This training is a way for dogs and their handlers to discover their strengths, capabilities, and skills. It will also help dogs and their owner to overcome fears for some physical activities and some unusual environments such as confined places, high platforms, and separation from the owner.
- Agility dog training will also help the dog to learn how to be under control whether on leash or off-leash. It also trains the dog to wait and receive commands before taking action.
- This training enhances a dog’s ability to respond to visual and verbal cues. The courses involve the dog handlers giving them cues on what to do. This further sharpens their senses and makes them respond more to the body language of their handlers.
- This training further strengthens the bond between a dog and their handlers. It also helps the dog handlers to fully understand their dogs and also discover their hidden traits.
- It helps the dog to be able to carry out activities in areas full of distraction. The focus of the dog is sharpened, and the dog is able to cope in a different environment and around different types of dogs.
Video: Beginner Dog Agility Training
This video explains how to start an agility dog training with your dog at home.