An Introduction to Dog Agility Training
A popular sport among dog enthusiasts is dog agility, whereby the competitors are run through an obstacle course and judged on time and accuracy. The handlers are not allowed to touch either the dog or the obstacles, and there are no rewards such as treats or toys for the right behavior. Rather, the dogs require exceptional training, for they can only rely on the movement, vocal commands and body signals of their trainer.
Precision and speed are considered equally when the dogs are judged in competition, so the handler must focus on the best way to train the dog for the task. If you plan on introducing your dog to agility training, there are a number of considerations to make from the start.
Dog Training Techniques
For the simple techniques, training a dog does not take as much time as you might suppose. Of course, preparing a dog for an agility course involving several very different obstacles where they will be judged on speed and accuracy is not easy. You will have to start slowly, practicing on one obstacle like a short tunnel. Many dog owners begin by leading their dog with a treat or a toy. Eventually a dog intent on competition will have to learn to run the obstacle course without the aid of either, but for starters it is a good way to motivate them.
Dog Agility Classes
Those handlers who are determined to take their dog to the highest levels of competition might consider taking dog agility classes or joining an agility training club. It is through various dog clubs that competitions are typically hosted. They contract judges and organize the events. Joining a club is an excellent way to get expert attention for your dog, learn how to be a proper handler during training and competitions and have an inside track to the competitions.
Dog agility classes will teach you how to focus the training and gradually progress from simple obstacles to the most complex, such as the teeter-totter and the weave poles. These two obstacles present the biggest challenge for dog agility competitors because they require the most conditioning for the animal and handler alike. If you are serious about dog agility competitions, you will want to start training your dog as young as possible. The saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ might not always apply, but with agility training it certainly does. Competitions are serious business among dog owners, so the sooner you introduce your pet to the training and the more focused you are, the likelier it is your dog will develop the speed and accuracy needed for high level performance.
It is best to introduce your dog to agility training as early as possible. Basic obedience will be required first, but after that it is a matter of frequent and rigorous training. The obstacles encountered in dog agility competitions are varied and demanding, and the judges will be basing their scores on your dog’s speed and accuracy. Developing those skills all without the aid of treats, toys or touching, relying solely on your movements and commands, will take practice, persistence and above all passion.