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Dog Agility – Conditioning

Dog Agility – Conditioning

Once you’re assured your dog is both physically and mentally capable of doing agility, the next thing to do is implement some type of conditioning exercise to help him get in shape. Agility is fun, but it’s also strenuous, and your dog will need to be in good physical condition if he is to compete successfully. Begin with regular walks, working up to a distance of several miles at least three or four times a week. If your dog is a puppy, or sedentary older dog, take it easy in the beginning and work up gradually, but do make it a regular part of your routine. Bear in mind that it is recommended a dog be at least eight months old before beginning to compete in agility, and many competitions require dogs to be one year or older. Also attend to your dog’s diet, being sure to feed
him any extra calories he might need to adequately compensate for the increase in physical exertion.

In addition to physical conditioning, give some thought to mentally conditioning your dog for the training ahead. This can be as simple as furnishing your dog’s play area with toy facsimiles of some of the obstacles he will be encountering. For example, get a three foot square board and put a tennis ball underneath it to get him used to jumping on moving objects, add a cardboard box or two with the ends cut out. Scatter a few pipes and planks about, and prop a board up on some blocks, with a few little steps going up to it. Don’t try to do any actual training at this point, but do make it a point to play with your dog using these props so he gets the idea they are fun items.

Some games you might play with him include:
– Find the Tunnel: put your dog at one end of the tunnel and a treat at the other. Encourage him to get the treat. Keep moving the tunnel further away, eventually into another room, so your dog learns it’s fun to find it and run through it.
– Around the Wall: find a place in your house where your dog can run around in a circle through doorways, a hallway for example with a door at each end, or a similar arrangement. Teach him to run in a circle around the wall, enticing him with a toy or treat, and rewarding him when he does it.
– See Saw Board: set a fairly wide board on a small fulcrum point. A pencil or other small diameter object will do fine at first. Then use a treat to entice him to run across the board, rewarding him when he does.

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