What’s Dog Agility Training?
Launched first in United kingdom around 1978, agility coaching for canines is now an enormous sporting event loved immensely by participants and viewers alike.
What Kind of Agility Training?
Putting it simple, dog agility training is really a sporting event exactly where canine participants are unleashed upon an obstacle course – the quickest canine wins.
Dogs may compete in numerous categories based on size, weight and occasionally breed.
To win, your canine must crawl through tunnels, jump fences, climb over, weave and zig-zag via other hurdles in a particular order and within a deadline.
Handlers help pets interpret the complex designs with verbal and visual cues from the sidelines however they may not physically help their pets.
The game exams a dog’s training, speed, agility and intelligence. In addition, it exams a handler’s coaching skills and relationship with their animal.
An entire industry revolves across the sport these days, with coaching colleges and equipment producers egging the game on. And why not? Dog agility training is a great physical exercise for dogs and among the best ways to bond with Bruno.
Why Dog Agility Training?
There are five fantastic reasons why both you and your dog ought to take part in this sport –
Fun Training: As dogs love exercise, this really is an excellent method to practice your canine and to familiarize them with a range of cues. In case you have an energetic breed or a hyperactive dog that you are finding difficult to train, agility coaching may be exactly that which you each require.
Wholesome Workout: You and your dog get an incredible exercise as agility coaching can be extremely exerting.
Natural Challenge: In the wild, canines hunt, chase and kill prey. They navigate through forests, hillsides, ditches and face a variety of hurdles. Agility coaching is the equal of those activities as canines are challenged with comparable hurdles they must conquer. It is a a wonderful psychological exercise to keep your dog proficiently occupied and attentive.
Quality Time: A great way to start the day and invest some high quality time with four-paws, agility coaching is really a unique time for you to bond. The whole family can actively participate in this type of training.
Better Conversation: Dog agility training can help your canine understand you and react much more successfully for your cues.
Can all Dogs Do that?
Some breeds are much better than others at strenuous actions. Hardy enfant of mid-sized working dogs like terriers, collies and sheepdog are often faster and much more responsive to it. Smaller sized or larger breeds might require unique training as they may lack the pace or the stamina to compete.
Exactly where Do We Start?
Join a club! The simplest place to begin would be to join an agility club with training courses where you are able to introduce your dog to the idea and familiarize yourself.
Joining a class is really a less expensive option because it is better to understand if you as well as your dog are up for this level of action before you invest in equipment.
Obtaining Training Gear
Ultimately, you can buy or build your own obstacle course. You will find different courses for canines of different sizes and abilities, so be sure to find the proper gear for the breed. You can either acquire each component 1 at a time or you can buy a whole set off the shelf.
These sets can vary from the fundamental beginner’s course to more complicated advanced versions. If you decide to pick a beginner’s set – no concerns, you can always upgrade by including new pieces.
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VIDEO: Beginner Dog Agility Training
Getting Your Canine Involved With Agility Training
Agility training is focused upon helping your dog develop the necessary skills to compete with other canines on an agility course.
The course includes several contact obstacles (we’ll describe them below) over, through, and across which your dog must race. Each pet has an assigned handler – typically the owner – who is tasked with directing his or her teammate through the course.
The sport debuted in England at the Crufts Dog Show in the late 1970s. At the time, the organizers used a course that modeled the one used for horse jumping competitions. The sport has since become popular on an international scale with competitions held in the U.S., Canada, and throughout Europe.
Below, we’ll provide an overview of agility training, beginning with the type of preparation canines should undergo prior to participating. As mentioned above, we’ll also cover, in detail, the course and the contact obstacles your pet will confront.
Training Requirements For Improving Performance
Any canine in good health can compete, though some breeds will likely be better suited to the competition.
Dogs are typically grouped by height to make the race fairer.
If your pet is normally energetic, and receives plenty of daily exercise, he will likely do well.
On the other hand, a canine couch potato may be ill-equipped for the course.
One of the standard requirements for agility training is that dogs must be at least twelve months old in order to compete.
A lot of owners begin to lay the groundwork earlier.
For example, they’ll enroll their puppies into professional obedience classes while also taking the time to train them at home.
As the pups become more accustomed to responding to basic commands, many owners then enroll them into agility classes.
Obedience training is critical since your pet will be racing on the same field as other canines. He must be able to get along with other pets, and focus on completing the course.
Types Of Obstacles To Expect
A typical agility trial will include several contact obstacles, all of which are completely safe.
For example, your canine will be expected to walk across a balance beam; he’ll need to manage an A-frame structure that requires him to walk up an incline, and descend the other side; and he’ll need to traverse a series of jumps.
There are many types of jumps on the field, including doubles and triples (two and three bars, respectively), suspended tire jumps, and long jumps. Before you begin training your pet, ask his veterinarian to examine him for joint problems. Assuming the vet gives his approval, start small and gradually make the jumps more difficult.
The trials also include tunnels. Dogs normally find them intuitive; they know what they are supposed to accomplish. During training, start with a short tunnel through which your pet can easily see the other side. Then, lengthen them. He may be hesitant initially, but treats will provide the proper motivation.
There will also be at least one teeter-totter on the course. A long plank measuring up to twelve feet will be balanced by a pivot. Your dog will be required to run across the teeter-totter, completing it as the far side descends.
Weave polls are common, and may include up to twelve poles. Your dog will be expected to weave through them without skipping poles or knocking them down. The polls may be spaced as closely as twenty inches. This, of all contact obstacles, is often the most difficult.
Most agility trials will also involve a pause box. This is a simple, small square marked on the field. Your canine must arrive at the box, and remain within it for a set time before proceeding to the next obstacle.
Agility training can be a fun experience for many dogs and their owners. As mentioned earlier, prior to getting involved, make sure your canine’s veterinarian approves of his participation.
VIDEO: Solutions to Dog Agility Training Challenges
Dog Agility Training for Your Puppy
Puppy training for agility can begin immediately. Expose your pup to a variety of obstacles that will help build is confidence and fun in his future agility training.
You may be thnking, “When can I start dog agility training with my new puppy?” You can start immediately, with certain recommendations. Puppies are always learning, so every time you are with your pup you can be playing and socializing with agility in mind.
Always remember, if you can control your puppies environment, you can teach and train the behaviors you want, left on their own, even in a fenced yard, puppies will learn and develop behaviors that later we may want or need to extinguish.
Expose your puppy to different surfaces. One of the first behaviors we teach our pups is “Box” or “Table”. This behavior transfers to the agility pause table. Lure pup up on a low pause table, treat them on the table.
You can call the pause table anything you want. (If I was starting over I would name the pause table “Box” instead of “Table” for my dogs because on the agility course there is the potential to have too many “T” words, i.e. tunnel, tire, table, and teeter.
The problem is I am also a creature of habit, and under pressure revert back to my default words, “table” would be one of them.)
Teach your pup to “Box”, meaning to get up on a variety of obstacles. In our training field we use “Box” for upside down kennel tops, the bottom of barrels turned upside down, bird crates, and more.
Be creative with your pup, get them to get up on all kinds of surfaces, exposing them to different shapes, sizes, and textures. Once your pup is comfortable getting up on a “Box”, then you can begin to ask them to sit on the box also.
You can also begin to use Buja boards for motion training. Buja boards are generally made from plywood, 36″ x 36″ with a painted surface or covered surface. On the underside, there is a 2×4 box where a partially deflated ball is placed.
This enables the Buja board to rock gently. At first you can reward your pup for getting one paw on the board, then reward for two feet and eventually all four. Depending on your pups temperament will determine how fast they get comfortable on the Buja Board.
Perch training can also be started with young pups. The Perch is generally a 1’x1′ wood surface that is raised by 2″x4″‘s underneath. So the Perch is about four inches in height.
The Perch helps teach pups rearend awareness. Again, you can reward your pup for getting one front paw on the perch and then the other. Perch training is mostly used with just the front paws on the Perch.
These are just a few behaviors you can teach your young pup. Exposure to a variety of surfaces and heights will help your pup build confidence in his future agility training.
VIDEO: Dog Agility Training – Basic Moves & Techniques
Build Confidence in Your Dog with Dog Agility Training
Dog agility training can build up confidence in your dog with lots of encouragement from you, and making it a fun event. As your dog succeeds in each obstacle, you will see his/her confidence grow.
Is your dog timid around people or other dogs? Is your dog sensitive to sounds? Agility training can provide the environment and structure to build confidence in your dog.
Dog agility classes are a great place for people to learn about the sport and learn how to train, but the timid dog may take a long time before he is ready to venture from under your chair or off your lap.
A timid or shy dog can only learn inside their comfort zone. So, training must begin where they feel safe and behaviors must be taught in very small increments. Home will probably be the best place to train and have learning take place for your dog.
So, how do you train at home? You will need guidelines and equipment. There is a multitude of websites that can give you information on agility training. There are also books and videos that will give details and visual aids and lesson plans for beginners thru expert levels.
There is a variety of equipment that is useful and helpful to have at home. Equipment recommendations are based on your available space and location of training.
Do you have a large yard that will hold 10 obstacles?
Do you have a small yard where you will need setup equipment and then tear down before you can setup again?
Will you be training in your garage or basement, or as some agility addicts, in your living room.
For the timid dogs make sure your equipment is safe and sturdy. The pause table is a good place to begin your dog agility training.
A 12” high pause table, with adjustable legs for later use, is a good starting place for all size dogs. Remember with your shy dog, setup your table in an area that is very familiar to your dog.
If your dog barks at anything new, just leave your pause table in your house or yard for several days, let your dog inspect and smell it on his own or with a little coaxing, but don’t push to fast, remember baby steps with the insecure dog.
With treats in a dish or his favorite toy placed on the table encourage your dog to get up on the table. This may take more than one lesson, be patient. If your timid dog looses interest in food or toys when you attempt something new, trying holding him and you sit on the table.
If your dog is too big to hold, have him on leash and you sit on the table. If he backs away coax him, only treat or reward him when he comes to you, never when he’s pulling back away from you or the table.
Eventually, you want your dog to be able to jump on the table with your cue word, “Table”, “Box”, “Kennel”, whatever word you use, Stay on the table as you back away and then Come when you call. Build your distance slowly so that your dog is not pushed to soon.
From Pause Table to Contact Trainer is a nice transition for shy dog. A Contact Trainer comes in different designs. We recommend a 3-Piece Contact Trainer that has one mini A-frame side, a Pause Table, and then a mini Dog-walk side.
Your dog can Sit on the table and then be coaxed down the A-frame side or the Dog-walk side. Just remember with the shy dog, training is done in increments, slowly and comfortably, with a little push to stretch him, but not enough to overwhelm him to cause a shutdown.
You can follow the above techniques introducing new obstacles as your dog is able to succeed. As your dog succeeds on each new piece of equipment you will see his confidence grow.
Dog Agility Training: Jump Practice Patterns
Dog Training Tips: Things I’ve Learned About Dog Agility Training
Dog agility training is fun for both you and your pet and can greatly influence your dog’s overall demeanor and response to even the most basic day to day commands. Get an insider’s tips after 2 years of agility competition!
I’ve owned many dogs, throughout my life, but have never known exactly how to train them properly. I based my training on punishment and just couldn’t figure out why that didn’t work that well. But, almost two years ago, I started training my Papillon for agility competition.
She was extremely high-drive and I knew she’d really love it. So, I found a good dog agility training school and off we went. We’ve been competing, very successfully, for almost a year now and, looking back, I learned so many important things about dog training!
First of all, most trainers require that dogs have completed at least a basic obedience class before proceeding to agility training. This is critical to dog agility training and, in my opinion, every dog and handler could benefit from a basic obedience class.
I learned that I have a food-motivated dog and that she will work her heart out for highly prized treats, not for punishment!
There are skills you and your dog will learn, through an obedience class, such as recalls, sit/stays, down/stays, and walking nicely on a leash. Each of these skills is something you will need every time you compete, not to mention day-to-day life with your dog.
The pace of your training will always be set by your dog. Each dog learns at a different speed and, what comes easily for one dog, may not come easily for another.
So, be very patient while training your dog any skill. Make it a game. Let your dog take as much time as it needs, without getting impatient or frustrated, to figure out what behavior you want from it.
All tasks must be broken down into small pieces, whether the task is a simple sit, the beginnings of obstacle training, or more complex tricks or agility sequences.
If you break the task down to something small, then mark/reward and repeat, several times before making the task larger, you will have success without stressing the dog out.
For example, when training an agility tunnel, you scrunch it up to its smallest form. Have someone place your dog at the entrance while you sit on the ground at the exit, with a treat, and call your dog.
As soon as the dog comes through that little piece of a tunnel, you mark/reward. Slowly begin expanding the tunnel using the same technique. In just a few minutes, you’ll have your dog going through however long a tunnel you need.
For dog agility training, once the dog begins obstacle training, there is never a wrong answer. Dogs get confused, and may shut down, if they start being told they’re doing the wrong thing, so keep the training light and never scold for doing the incorrect thing.
If the dog doesn’t do what you want it to, you simply do not mark/reward for that action. You just ask again and, the minute you get the correct response, mark/reward and make a huge deal of it. That will make your dog more anxious to give you that same answer again.
As you start competing, you might want to use a particular word to indicate the incorrect response, such as “uh oh,” or “oops,” but not with a scolding tone. This will indicate that the dog will be asked to try again but everything is fine between the two of you.
Lastly, always keep the training fun for both you and your dog. Even when you start competing, or have been competing for a long time, this is critical.
If you start getting caught up in the competition and title-winning, you might forget why you started agility to begin with: because it’s fun! When the game stops being fun, your dog won’t enjoy it anymore and neither will you.
Agility is a wonderful sport and will forever secure the relationship between you and your dog. Run fast, run clean, and, above all, have fun!