Dog Agility Training
If you are interested in entering your dog in an agility competition, you wonder how you can get your canine ready for this sport.
When you saw it on TV for the first time, you imagined it to be a fun activity. Not only does your canine learn new skills, but you also get to work on its fitness.
Before you enroll your furry friend for dog agility training, you should find out how it responds to these types of activities. You can try different things at home to get a feel for this sport.
The best part about agility dog training is that you can improve your canine’s confidence. It reduces anxiety while deepening the trust it has in you. Given below is a guide you can use for dog agility training for beginners:
Start when it is a puppy
If you watched dog agility competitions, you will notice majority of the competitors are young. Most of them fall between the ages of 1 – 2 years.
If you want to get into agility training for dogs, you should start when it is young.
The first thing you should do is to teach it basic commands such as stay, heel, come, lie down, and sit. If possible, enroll your puppy for dog training.
As your furry friend has to learn basic commands under the presence of multiple people and dogs, it will act as training for competitions.
However, make sure you avoid jumping over hurdles during the early stages of development. Your puppy can suffer from injuries, preventing it from competing in the future.
Make sure you ask your vet about when your canine is ready to jump over hurdles, before starting this practice.
Set up for success
You should remember that when you are training a dog for agility, you should take it as a fun activity. Basic commands are different from this type of training.
Your canine doesn’t need to pick up agility skills quickly.
Instead, you should make sure to avoid stressing out your dog as it slows down the rate of learning.
Always set up your furry friend for success, as this helps build its confidence. Once it achieves the small targets, you can move on to bigger goals slowly.
Keep in mind that every canine responds to agility dog training differently. Some of them will pick up the skills quickly, while others take time.
You should be patient and use positive reinforcement to encourage your furry friend.
During the early stages of agility training for dogs, you must keep every session short. It shouldn’t exceed 10 minutes, as your canine can lose interest.
Work on flexibility and handling
These are two skills your canine needs when you are training a dog for agility. One of the reasons why certain dogs win competitions is because of the owner’s ability to handle the pet.
You should be able to move your canine from one obstacle to another or focus on clearing one, while you stand at a distance.
To improve handling, you should make sure your canine feels comfortable walking on either side.
Once it adjusts to this type of dog agility training, try your hand at jogging.
After it becomes comfortable with this activity, you can attempt running.
Make sure you reward your canine when it stays on a specific side. After you give it the command to switch, it should do so in an instant.
Flexibility helps your canine clear obstacles with ease. You should teach your dog how to spin. In this exercise, you can use a treat to guide your canine to go in a circle.
Another way you can improve its flexibility is to stretch its back. You can work on this area of your dog’s body by teaching it to bow.
One of the best tips for dog agility training for beginners is to teach your canine to weave through your legs. It should do so in a figure-eight shape.
With this type of dog agility training, your furry friend will be able to make sharp turns.
Overcome fear of moving objects
One of the biggest challenges for novice dogs are moving objects. When it comes to dog agility training for beginners, it is a must to focus on this area. Every dog agility competition has a seesaw.
While your canine may be able to climb it with ease, it will find it challenging to continue once the seesaw starts to move. During the initial stages of agility training for dogs, you must focus on low moving objects.
For instance, you can use a skateboard if you have one lying in your house. If you don’t have one, don’t worry as you can create a DIY wobble board.
All you need is a piece of plywood as big as your canine. You also need an object such as a ball, log, or brick to balance the board.
The goal is to make this platform unstable so that your dog learns how to balance.
Reward your canine every time it tries to get on the board. Try to get it to balance while the platform is wobbling,
Use weave poles and tunnels
After you focus on improving flexibility you can introduce weave poles. The figure eight training will help teach your dog to clear this obstacle.
At first, you should place the weave poles at should-width for your canine. With the help of a leash, guide your canine through these obstacles.
Once it becomes comfortable with this type of movement, you can decrease the distance between each pole. Over time, you can reduce the distance to competition level.
Tunnels are also another obstacle your canine needs to clear during the dog agility competition.
The best way to practice for this type of agility training for dogs is to get someone to stand at the end of the tunnel with a treat.
Guide your canine to the tunnel and ask your friend to call your dog from the other side with the treat. During this exercise, you should use the command tunnel.
This will help the dog understand what to do when you say this word during a competition.
Make sure you visit nearby training centers, to improve the quality of the practice sessions. Once you get these basic dog agility training skills, you can start entering in novice competitions.