Dog Agility Training – Specific Skills
Agility Training – Specific Skills
Specific skills will include:
with the easiest obstacles which are either tunnels or simple jumps.
Be patient, persistent, consistent and positive. Never scold your
dog if he doesn’t do it right; only reward him when he does. He’ll
catch on, and probably more quickly than you might expect. One thing
to keep in mind is that your dog may become confused if you keep
going once he’s done it right, so end each exercise with a treat
once he’s gotten it, and move on to something else.
your imagination to simulate the obstacles before introducing your
dog to an actual course. For example, the “dog walk” can be simulated
by elevating a board a few inches off the ground. Walk your dog
over the board a few times on-leash, rewarding him with a treat
each time he does. Then place him on one side of it, with you on
the other, and give the “Here” command. If he comes by walking on
the board, reward him. If not, take him back to the starting point,
and walk him over it again, then try again off-leash. For hurdles,
just a piece of pipe on the ground is a good beginning. For tunnels,
a cardboard box with the ends cut out will do. Entice him through
it with a treat.
are those marked zones on the contact obstacles listed above. The
easiest way to train contacts is to put a treat somewhere within
the contact zone and then direct the dog to it. Be careful on this
– your body language can have a lot to do with your dog’s performance,
so pay attention to how his actions differ depending on what you’re
doing with your body. Some trainers have found that if they lean
forward, the dog will rush through the obstacle, often missing the
contact zone. For these dogs, you may find it crucial to be sure
you stand up straight or even lean backwards. A “hit it” command
is used by some owners to get their dogs to touch the contact, while
“target” is popular with others. The word is not as important as
the concept and consistency.
is putting individual obstacles together in a sequence. Go slowly
on this at first so your dog does not become fatigued. Try putting
two or three obstacles together and directing him through. Only
add more, one at a time, when he can easily and without being distracted,
navigate all the obstacles in order. This will obviously take some
time. Be patient, never scold, and always praise and reward your
dog when he gets it right.
are a combination between obedience and agility commands. They mean
being able to instantly call your dog off an obstacle, regardless
of where he is in the course. A strong “Come” command can be used
for this purpose, but be careful not to overuse it, as that will
weaken its power and effect. Save call-offs for when they’re really
needed. Use a long leash in the beginning, and set up situations
to show the dog that he must immediately stop whatever he is doing
and come to you when you give the command. When he drops the ball,
stops drinking, or whatever else he’s doing and comes to you, always
praise him exuberantly, and give him a reward that is much better
than whatever he left behind. This will help to cement the idea
that coming to you is a very good thing.
is a command meaning “Don’t get on that one, we’re going somewhere
else,” and is important especially in directing your dog through
unfamiliar courses. Set him up by deliberately tempting him with
an obstacle, then getting him to pass it up. Use a leash if necessary,
and praise and reward him when he does “pass” it up.
is another crossover command, and means “slow down.” You’ll want
to use this if your dog gets too excited, especially on contact
obstacles, and wants to go faster than he should, possibly missing
from both sides is fairly self-explanatory. Since courses differ,
you will find you need to direct your dog from either side, and
you will need to train him to accept this without hesitation. Clearly,
the only way to do this is to consistently vary the side you are
on while working on other commands so that your dog learns to accept
your direction regardless of your position.
you’ll need to expose your dog to an actual agility course if he
is to progress in the sport. Ask at your local pet store or veterinarian’s
office, or check the yellow pages or the internet to locate those
near you. They may be standalone courses, or part of a training
facility that teaches agility. Even if you’re not interested in
signing up for classes, some schools will rent out the facility
for practice for a certain amount per hour or fraction of an hour.
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