Dog Agility Training: Where to Begin
Category_Dog Knowledge

Dog Agility Training: Where to Begin

by Wes Chang

Does your dog run and jump obstacles as if they weren't there? Have you ever seen your dog run through a tunnel, jump over a fence post, or run like the wind? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, your dog may benefit substantially from dog agility training.

Dog agility training is something you and your dog do together. The training involves timed obstacle courses that a dog completes while following its handler's commands. The handler doesn't have to be you but it is often the owner of the dog who gives the commands during agility training.

There's nothing quite as exciting as watching and participating with your dog as they complete an obstacle course full of poles, seesaws, jumps, tunnels, pause tables, and more. The dog completes the obstacle course off their leash using only the handler's commands to navigate these difficult obstacles. Read on and discover some great dog agility training tips that will help you decide what kind of dog agility training program you want to do with your talented pup.

Dog Agility Training

Before you start dog agility training, it’s good to understand the definition of it and how it's used. Every dog needs proper training. When you bring a dog home for the first time, you quickly realize you’re going to have to train the dog as soon as possible or you may have an out-of-control dog that controls you and your house.

Teaching your dog how to obey basic commands as well as having them learn more advanced skills is a bonding experience that lasts between you and your dog a lifetime. You may discover dog agility training by accident during a dog show or even at the dog park. That's because dog agility training is defined as a canine sport that puts dogs through a course where they do various jumps and obstacles at a fast pace.

That course can be pretty much anywhere. The handler of the dog gives the dog commands for each obstacle on the course. Dog agility training is pretty new and it wasn’t created to even be a dog training event at dog shows.

Rather its original use was to serve as an in-between at dog show events when handlers would race dogs through obstacles while they were killing time. Somewhere along the way, filling time at dog training shows became a formal competition. Today it has grown into competitive level dog shows, but it’s also still a great hobby activity to do with your dog.

Materials Needed for Dog Agility Training

Now that you know what dog agility training is, you need to know what's needed for the training. The good news is you don't have to be athletic or have any prior dog training experience to work with your dog in agility training. It doesn't even really matter what's your dog's breed is or how old your dog is as long as they are in good shape.

When creating the dog obstacles, you want to ensure you have at least some of the below obstacle materials:

  1. Weave poles - you want 10 to 15 PVC pipes or ski poles that you can stick into the ground leaving enough space between each pole that your dog can go around each one.
  2. Jumps - you can start by using cinderblocks on top of each other for your standard jumps. At the top of the stacked cinderblocks, you want to put some plywood. Adjust the height of the cinder blocks to a natural jump your dog would normally take.
  3. Dogwalk - you can use a piece of plywood and put them across two cinderblocks for the dog to walk on. It's best to use a 12-foot piece of plywood for the best results.
  4. Tunnel - you can use a plastic toy tunnel sold in the kid's toy section of a store as it makes a perfect dog tunnel too.
  5. Pause Table - try to use an old table that's stable and about the height of a coffee table, so it doesn't sit too high or too low.
  6. Tire Jump - the tire jump can hang from a sturdy tree branch, but the dog has to be able to fit through the center of the tire.
  7. Teeter Boards - usually consist of a piece of wood and PVC pipe. You can put the pipe in the center of the board. Drill two holes and put bots into the holes and attach them to the boards. You now have a teeterboard the dog can walk on, slowly come down, and walk off safely.

As long as your dog can still get around pretty well and you want to participate in the sport with them, this is a good way to play and work together. You’ve completed the first tip for agility training by creating each type of obstacle you'll use with your dog over and over again.

dog running through tunnel

I'm having the time of my life!

General Dog Agility Training Tips

As a pet parent, you may think of walking with your dog as a chore that you have to do. Yet, any outdoor excursion you can give your dog provides the dog with something to participate in, enjoy and it becomes the highlight of their day. Every time you take your dog outside for exercise, it helps strengthen their bones, improves the heart and lung functions, and keeps them mentally stimulated.

By taking your dog out for agility training, you've added the component of a wonderful behavioral mechanism that is rewarding to both of you. The second training tip is to introduce your dog to your contact obstacles first. Contact obstacles are the jumps, the teeter boards, and the dog walk.

They are called contact obstacles because they each have a specific spot on both sides where your dog must touch at least one of its paws to initiate the contact motion. You can start training on contact obstacles by leaving a treat on the obstacles until your dog feels comfortable putting his paw on one end and then the other end.

Your next tip is for training your dog on jumps. If your vet gives the go-ahead, you can commence training your dog on the jump and pause table. Make sure you keep your jumps and pause table only a couple of inches off the ground for large to medium breeds and one inch or on the ground for smaller breeds.

Specific Dog Agility Course Training Tips

It's important to keep the leash on your dog as you teach them to jumps so they can't go around the hurdle. Give a command that's specific to the jump by using identifying words like little or big. If you give your dogs, treats, and praise, they will grow more confident and be able to jump a bit higher each time without really ever being aware of the changes as you adjust its height.

Another tip is to use the healthiest and best dog treats for your dog. Some of the healthiest and best dog food and treats are made with zero animal ingredients. Zero animal ingredients integrated with tasty dog snacks and food can do a world of good in keeping your dog healthy and trim for dog agility training.

To help dogs, you can use dog food and treats in which there's been no animal cruelty of any kind. You can use this kind of dog food and treats while teaching your dog how to navigate the tunnels, which is the easiest agility training obstacle for a dog to learn. Your tip is to start by using the shortest tunnel you can find so the dog can see through the tunnel from one end to the other.

Make sure you have some of those tasty treats at the end of the tunnel as you grow the tunnel in length one section at a time. The weave poles are the most difficult agility training obstacle for a dog to learn. The tip is to start by putting your dog on the leash and lead them through the evenly spaced far apart poles and then start bringing the poles closer and closer until your dog has to bend their body to weave through them.

Dog Agility Training Benefits

The benefits provided by dog agility training is almost limitless. It doesn't matter if you're planning on competing at a world-class level or if you want to spend some bonding time with your dog, the training is always beneficial. The treats and praise help your dog grow in confidence and achieve new training objectives.

Also, your dog learns more self-control and off-leash control. Learning through commands builds up the communication skills between you and your dog, which in turn grows your relationship together. The distractions of the real world are many, so having a dog that responds to your voice commands helps keep them safe and you in control.

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