Do you want your pooch to do more than “sit” and “stay”? Then dog agility courses might be for you. Your dog can learn useful commands to succeed on the course that may help them with new tricks at home. Plus, the exercise and stimulation promotes good mental and physical health. Learn more below about agility training and how it can help your dog.
What Is Agility Training?
Agility training in its most basic form is a doggy obstacle course. Your pup will utilize their canine cunning to navigate physical and mental challenges. These agility obstacles can be tunnels, tire jumps, weave poles, or a series of ramps.1
A Two Way Street – Owner And Dog Together
There’s an important second factor that makes agility courses great for your dog’s behavior: you. As the handler, you must use body language and cues to help them navigate the challenges. This builds trust and understanding between you and Fido.2
The communication required separates agility training from pure play at the park. Your dog relies on your guidance through the course. It’s a challenge, but it strengthens your bond as pet and owner, which is crucial for teaching dogs new tricks.3
Dog Shows Or Dog Sports?
In a nutshell, a dog show is a type of dog sport.4 A “dog show” refers to a “conformation,” or a competition in which your dog competes with dogs of the same breed.5
Agility is also a dog sport. It’s a competition that tests your pup’s endurance and speed on a timed obstacle course.6
But, your dog doesn’t need to do any competitions with their agility skills. It can just be something you do together for fun and exercise on the weekends.
Agility Training – For Dogs Of All Spots And Sizes
You may see lots of Border Collies out on the agility course, but they’re not the only breed that can play. Just about any dog – young, old, small, big – can participate in dog agility training. In fact, agility is sometimes called the “sport for all dogs.”7 It’s great for:
- Anxious Dogs – The training might help calm them and tackle their fears.
- Old Dogs – The exercise and challenge can help keep them mentally and physically sharp.
- Problem Dogs – Dogs with behavioral issues will learn rules that may shape better habits.
- Dogs With Disabilities – Don’t rule out any tripods or deaf dogs. If they get the okay from a vet, they can try their paws at the obstacles as well.8
Puppies And Dog Agility Classes
Puppies stand to gain a lot from dog agility courses. The assortment of new challenges and commands may help boost their confidence and self-control.9
What Are The Benefits Of Agility Training?
The mental and physical workout from agility training can potentially do wonders for a dog’s health.
Behavioral Benefits Of Agility Training
Agility requires you and your dog to run side-by-side through a series of challenges. Through communication and patience, you will navigate obstacles together. This teamwork may:
- Help with behavior problems
- Encourage off-leash accountability
- Boost attention spans
- Strengthen communication skills between dog and owner
- Deepen the bond between you and your pet10
Health Benefits Of Agility Courses
Physical exercise is one of the most important aspects of agility for your dog. It lets them tap into that deep well of energy and apply it to a healthy outlet. This physical activity may help support:
What Tricks Can My Dog Learn From Agility?
An agility course contains obstacles that require communication between you and your pooch. The commands you use on the course can also help your dog learn new tricks off the course. Here are just a few examples.
Spin In A Circle
Your pup will learn “left” and “right” commands to navigate the course and build an agility foundation. These cues can be used to teach your dog to spin in a circle.12
Your pup will also need to know how to back up on the course. With a “back up” command, your dog will be able to walk backwards. That’s bound to turn a few heads at the park. Plus, it’s a great way to improve your dog’s physical awareness as they focus on all four paws at once.13
Hula Hooping (Sort Of)
Your dog can learn to jump through tires on an agility course. You can modify this trick by teaching your dog to jump through a hula hoop. This is endless fun for viewers and participants alike. But, be sure whatever they jump through is big enough for them.14
Climb And Stay
The table portion of a dog agility course is a contact obstacle. It teaches your dog to climb onto an object (like a park bench) and stay still. This can help a dog to remain calm in high energy moments, which is particularly great for dogs with a high prey drive. A table command will teach them to react with calm to triggers and stimuli.15
Start Your Dog’s Training Today
You don’t need to enroll your pup in an agility class for them to try their paw at the challenge. You can build lots of obstacles at home to get them started. However, it is probably wise to first do your research and get some type of professional guidance. This might mean talking to a dog trainer who specializes in agility, or watching YouTube videos. Seeking guidance will help ensure that your pet remains as safe as possible.
Try fashioning some of these household objects into your own personal agility course:
- Bamboo garden poles or orange cones – These can substitute for weave poles on your lawn.
- Old broom or curtain rod – Prop either one of these on some books or blocks to make a jump hurdle.
- Hula hoop – Use a hula hoop to teach your pup to jump through a ring.
- Chairs and a blanket – Make a row of chairs that your dog can fit under and drape a blanket over it to make an agility tunnel.16
This is a great option for anyone that plans to do agility for fun. If you want Fido to participate in agility competitions, then a more formal agility course might be the better route. Either way, your pet will value the exercise and time spent by your side.
Note: Before you begin any new dog training, consult your veterinarian.
Agility – Training And Fun For Everyone
Agility training offers pups of all ages, sizes, and breeds a fun and healthy way to train. They get to run and jump their way through all sorts of fun challenges. This provides a healthy outlet for their canine energy, which is great for their mental and physical health.
You can sign your dog up at a local agility training center, or you can build a course yourself. The obstacles and challenges will never block the fun. Your dog can zoom and dash to their heart’s content. Most importantly, they’ll appreciate the time you spend together overcoming hurdles and working as a team.
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