A Brief Guide to Dog Agility Training

Dog agility training is excellent method for teaching pets how to compete in various sporting events. The dogs go through specific regimens so they can navigate obstacle courses in timed events. In most cases, they are directed by dog handlers who use commands and signals.

The off-leash events usually include a course of equipment such as tunnels, jumps and hurdles. This may be supplemented by other skills, such as heeling and sitting.

Here is a basic guide to help you get started on agility training for your dog.

Is Dog Agility Training Right for Your Pet?

If your dog is part of a working breed and is a medium size he has a good chance of excelling in this type of activity. Puppies cannot participate in competitions until they are 9 months old. And if your dog is 8 years or older, he will not be able to compete either.

Some of the breeds comfortable with dog agility training include:

  • Collies
  • Corgis
  • Pinschers
  • Poodles
  • Retrievers
  • Schnauzers
  • Shepherds
  • Spaniels
  • Terriers

How Agility Training Can Help Your Dog

Along with the goal of entering competitions, a lot of pet owners teach their dogs agility techniques for fun and as confidence builders. If your dog is apprehensive to bond with people or other dogs, he may benefit from agility training. Agility classes are a great place for you to learn about the sport and learn how to train.

What Aspects of Agility Training are Necessary?

Teaching a dog the basics includes using handling techniques and delivering commands. To be a major contender for competition, a dog needs agility, speed and accuracy. As a general rule, most dogs require 6 to 9 months of extensive training before they're ready for an organized competition.

Tips for Dog Agility Training

To begin training at home, you will need to learn various commands and about the equipment used. Also available are books and DVDs offering detailed techniques and lesson plans for all levels of dogs and their handlers.

  • Start by connecting with your dog in a light, playful way.
  • Make use of games and toys to teach commands.
  • Teach your dog important commands such as left, right, fast, slow, up, down, heel and away.
  • Gradually introduce agility equipment one by one. For starters, setup short agility tunnels and low jumps for him.
  • Then, increase the difficulty little by little such as raising the height on jumps.
  • Do not reprimand your dog for missing a jump or making a mistake; rather focus on giving him positive reinforcement.
  • A shy dog will do better learning new techniques where he feels comfortable and safe.

What Obstacle Courses and Equipment You Need

There is a variety of equipment that is useful in helping to train your dog at home. Where you will carry out this training, from your garage to your backyard, may dictate the type of equipment you use.

The main equipment used in dog agility obstacle courses are as follows:

  • Teeter-totter or seesaw
  • Weave poles
  • Rigid tunnels
  • Collapsed tunnels
  • Tire jump
  • Broad jump
  • Single jump

When working with equipment in dog agility training, use commands identifiable to each item. This will be useful when guiding your dog during a competition. It's also helpful to reward your dog with a treat after he navigates each piece of equipment in the course effectively.