Agility activities are great to do with any dog. Agility allows you to work as a team with your dog, doing an activity both of you find fun! It is also mentally and physically tiring (which is a plus with high energy dogs).
What is agility?
In agility the dog-owner team go through a course of obstacles. The dog is off leash and cannot be baited with food ( in competition). In competition, the team who completes the course the fastest wins. At home just getting through the course is fun. The obstacles can be jumps, tunnels, beams, weave poles and many more.
Who can do agility?
Any dog can do agility activities! Even shorter legged dogs can, in agility the jump height is determined by how tall the dog is. Additionally, most jumps and other obstacles are adjustable, so you can start small and work to bigger jumps. You can start agility training at any age, but it is recommended that you wait to do bigger jumps until your dog is fully grown. This can help prevent joint damage. Agility is also not a good option for dogs who already have hip dysplasia or another joint disease. Talk to your vet about when and if starting agility is a good option for your dog.
How can we start?
Agility courses can easily be made at home or bought online cheaply. There are many good books with instructions for training your dog that can be found online. If you want more help training, check out a local dog training club. Many of these clubs offer agility classes of various levels.
Here are some things to work on at home. These are basic, but are the foundation for agility and a good bond between you and your dog.
- Work on off leash skills
- Because agility is done off leash you want your dog to be very comfortable with commands like come and “stay with me” or heel
- Find a positive reinforcement method
- In agility competitions you are not allowed to reward your dog with food on the course. Practice simple commands (like sit) with a clicker or special noise (like you making a kissy noise) that your dog associates “I did a good job”.
- Get your dog into shape
- Agility is the dog equivalent to track and field. You can’t go and do the high jump without some training. Start increasing your dog’s daily walks or runs to get him into better shape.
*Be sure to watch out for signs that your dog is sore, like limping or stiffness, and stop when your dog is ready to stop. Pushing a training session after your dog is done can create a negative memory.
Agility activities are fun and rewarding exercises to do with your dog. It is a great way to use your dog’s physical and mental energy in a productive way. It can also form a stronger bond between you and your dog.