With so many of a dog's happiest moments spent running, jumping, catching, and stretching, dog agility training can really help dogs age gracefully and happily.
What is dog agility training?
You've probably seen dog agility training on television. The dogs run a course of tire hoops, tunnels, seesaw, dog walk plank, jumps, hurdles, weaving poles, and a 3-meter A-frame.
Heeling, sitting, down stays, send-aways as well as walking off leash are also included.
Who can participate?
Anyone with a dog can do agility training. There is not age limit for people or dogs. In fact, children and puppies are encouraged to take part. All breeds and sizes of dogs without a physical disability can benefit from agility training. Be sure to check with your vet before you begin agility training if you have any doubts about your canine's fitness.
What equipment is needed?
You as the handler will need comfortable shoes and clothes that you can run in, because this is not exercise for the dog alone.
Your dog needs a leather or webbed buckle collar and a leather, nylon or rope lead of fairly long length. Do not use a chain lead; it could get caught in the jumps.
Agility Training Courses for Dogs
There are two sides of agility training for dogs. They are the obstacles and the control training. There are also tips for training your dog.
1. Obstacles. Although it seems high to many handlers, the A-frame is the best obstacle to begin training. The dog walk plank, low jump and the tunnel (dogs love this obstacle) are also excellent for training the novice dog.
2. Control training is important to keep your dog disciplined both on the agility course and off. Everybody knows that a dog must heel and sit. You must also teach your dog to know and obey different commands: to go left and right, lay down, and wait. After those are mastered, the dog must learn normal recall (returning anytime you call) and recall over obstacles.
Also important is the "send away" command, making the dog go ahead you.
Tips for Dog Agility Training
. Begin training by getting your dog's attention.
. Talk to him and offer a small treat. Coupled with the love he has for you, he'll be all ears.
Be sure you have the correct lead (generally 6 feet) and a comfortable collar (measure the dog's neck and add 2 inches) for your dog.
. Give praise often.
. "Tune in" to your dog to be sure she and you are ready to train.
Here's a final tip: Make sure that you and your dog enjoy yourselves. After all, jumping through hoops is supposed to be fun--at least if you're a dog.