Ask anyone who has watched, let alone been involved in, a dog agility contest and they will tell you that there is nothing like it when it comes to seeing what a dog can achieve. Maneuvering over, around and under obstacles at high speed, accuracy is very important.
All dogs large and small compete in these competitions and their placement is based on the weight and height category. The placements of the obstacles are designed to be complicated because it is not only the dog that is judged but how well the handler leads the animal through it.
During the competiton the dog will have to, with the careful assistance of the handler, negotiate various obstacles like tunnels and jumps. The handler will receive a layout of the course beforehand. The agility training the dog received prior to competition day will determine how well it does.
Training a dog to maneuver through obstacles does not have to be as difficult as it sounds. The easiest method is to get the dog's favorite toy or treat and throw it through a tunnel for tunnel training or to have the dog jump a small hurdle to come to you and get a treat. You typically do not want to bore the dog so it is best to keep the initial training limited to a few minutes per day.
The handler's position at the competition is to call the dog through the obstacles. The dog must be a good listener and be well behaved as there are quite a few distractions throughout the obstacle course. What with screaming fans and other dogs barking, one can't stress enough that the dog must be focused on you.
Sometimes the handler is not the owner but someone trained professionally in dog agility. Regardless, the key is that whoever is responsible for the dog in the agility contest knows what will motivate it to perform at its best because at no point is there any physical contact between the two.
Make no mistake, dog agility training will require hours of dedication from handler and dog. The reward will come in watching your dog become more confident and adept as each obstacle is succesfully negotiated.
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