Intro & History Dog agility training began as a sport in the UK in the 1970s, and involves successful completion of an obstacle course. It’s a great way to develop a strong bond between pet and owner; it can also help build confidence in timid dogs (and owners). It’s also a great form of exercise as it uses not just the dog’s physicality, but the intelligence as well. The human partner may find that their fitness improves as they are required to do as much work as the dog. Whilst agility training can be done to allow participation in competition, there’s no rule to say it’s not just for a fun time with your dog.
Type of suitable dog In the serious, competitive sport, the breeds of dog that excel at agility tend to be those that are generally classed as intelligent, such as Border Collies and Labradors. However, as long as your mutt is fit, healthy and has enough brain cells to cope the basic obedience commands, there is no reason why he or she can’t succeed in agility, even if it’s just for fun. It’s even suitable for puppies a young as 8 months. Some of the obstacles can be strenuous on the joints, so training any earlier than 8 months is not recommended.
Equipment What is required to begin training is a basic set of equipment: a tunnel; cones for weaving through; something to jump over; an “A” frame; and a table to pause on. This may seem daunting and expensive, but you may fine a club that you can join or a class in your area. However, as training for agility is a gradual process you may find that you can start slowly with one piece of equipment and build up the course gradually. Initially a lead and collar will be necessary until your dog is familiar with everything.
Procedure It’s best to start slowly: allowing your dog to become familiar with the obstacles. Walk your dog around the course, learning that there is no threat. You may find that you will have to demonstrate the obstacles to your dog so that he or she gets the idea of what he/or she is supposed to do. Start the jumps low and gradually increase the height. You may want to concentrate on one obstacle and then add more. Always, always praise and reward with treats when something, no matter how small, is done well. Never punish: the idea is for you to enjoy your time with your dog.
If you are interested in training your dog, for whatever reason, then you can find some qualified help here. There are some wonderful articles available specifically written to help you to train your dog to do anything. And this is information is not restricted to agility training. If your dog jumps, bites or just cries in the night, then there is something that you can do about it.
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