Dog Agility Training – Tips
Agility Training – Tips
Even if your dog’s been cleared by your vet, you will still need
to make his safety a top priority. Evaluate each obstacle and each
activity in light of his capability and readiness. Don’t push him
too far or too fast, and if your dog is young, be especially careful
with any jumps, as the concussion from landing too hard can damage
soft joints that are still growing.
– Leash. Many “purists” will tell you never to use a leash, but
in reality it can be a valuable training aid, especially in the
beginning, and especially if you are working alone without a helper.
It can aid you in showing your dog what you want him to do, and
helping you maintain control before your dog has learned his lessons.
Don’t be afraid to use a leash.
– When you introduce your dog for the very first time to an obstacle,
it is not necessary, or recommended to call it anything. If your
dog is shy of going in the tunnel, for example, you don’t want him
to associate the word “tunnel” with something he is afraid of. But
as soon as your dog successfully goes through the tunnel, you can
greet him on the other end with treats and ecstatic praise “good
tunnel!”. From then on, it is important to use consistent words
for each obstacle. You can call them anything, as long as you are
consistent and each one sounds different to the dog.
– Classes are a good idea both early and later on in your training.
By exposing your dog to a more realistic training scenario involving
an actual agility course, and the presence of other people and dogs,
you’re giving both of you an advantage in learning the skills. Find
classes by asking around, checking the yellow pages, or looking
on the internet.
– Competitions can be great learning tools, even if you and your
dog are doing agility mainly for fun and exercise. Consider entering
a few competitions in the beginner or novice class just to gain
experience. You may find you enjoy it enough to want to work on
progressing to more advanced levels.
– Be patient. This is going to take awhile. It’s fairly common for
people to take a few classes and think they and their dog are ready
for competition. You might even enter and make it through one or
two, surprised that your dog does better than you expected. But
in reality, it’s going to take a couple of years for both of you
to become comfortable with the sport and its nuances. Don’t rush
it – the training itself will nurture the bond between you and your
dog, and you’ll make lots of friends and have a good time along
– 15 minute practice sessions are plenty long enough. You might
try several sessions a day, but keep the sessions short, or your
dog will lose focus, lose interest, and not learn. If you’re signing
up for classes that last an hour, be sure to ask if there are regular
– Warm up before beginning a practice session to help your dog be
physically and mentally prepared to work.
– Be sure to separate obedience exercises from agility work. They’re
both necessary, but shouldn’t be mixed in the same session. Once
your dog is running the courses you’ll see how they work together,
but wait until then.
– Fun! Always, always keep your agility work lighthearted and fun.
Not only will you enjoy it more, your dog will respond far more
and progress far faster than if you allow any of your sessions to
take on a negative tone. Remember, it’s not your dog’s fault if
he doesn’t understand something. It’s only an opportunity to try
the sport of agility can and should be a fun and exciting adventure
for both you and your dog. No other sport requires such teamwork
between dog and handler, and you will marvel at the bond of trust
you’ll find developing between the two of you as you work and progress
together. Although it requires dedication, study, and a whole lot
of hard work, you will be repaid many times over in fun and satisfaction
as you participate and progress in dogdom’s newest sport.
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