What is agility for dogs?
Dog Agility is a dog sport, in which the dog owner or handler, directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. In competitions, the dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler should not touch either dog or the agility obstacles. During the training phase, treats and toys are sometimes used to teach and encourage the dog to try an obstacle like the tunnels.
The ultimate goal is to have the dog owner/handler use voice and body signals/ body language to guide their dog through the various obstacles. Agility is like a dance, one leads and the other follows (hopefully the one leading is the human).
Obstacle courses are set up in a variety of ways but the basic equipment used are tunnels, ramps, jumps, see saws, ladders, jumping rings and weaving poles..
The sky is the limit with the imagination of the course designers. For those of you wanting to start your dog in Agility, I would suggest you join an Agility class. There are a lot of trainers out there teaching Agility classes. Agility courses vary greatly from a simple set up in some one’s backyard (or yours) to much more complicated courses used in competitions.
No size of dog is too small or too big, you would adjust the height of the jumps and rings to the size of the dog. All breeds are contenders for Agility as long as the dog is eager and willing to try. If your dog is healthy and reasonably fit, Agility might be your game!
Very young dogs should not be doing any intense obstacles like the higher jumps and the weaving poles until their growth is almost finished, damage to their joints could result if they are started too young. Likewise, an old dog should not be asked to jump or climb, the tunnels might be safe enough for a senior dog though.
Agility is also great exercise for the dog owner or handler of the dog, there is lots of running involved for the humans and the dogs!.In that respect, you need to be in fit enough condition to do some of that running. If you have damaged knees, then this sport is not for you unless you keep to a walk. You won’t win any competitions at a walk but you can still have fun with your dog.
My favorite is watching the dogs weaving through the poles at top speed, INTENSE!!
The jumps vary greatly, from single jumping set ups to tandem jumps (a series of jumps only a few feet apart)
Agility Ladders on the ground or a variety of ramps up high…
Jumping rings that are adjustable for even the smaller dogs!
And then there are the tunnels… not quite as difficult as the other obstacles but fun to watch the dogs go whizzing through them!!
How do you get started?
Don’t have the funds to set up your own Agility course? Check on Pintrest for ideas. If you are handy, maybe make your own obstacles…use your imagination. As an example, take a PVC pipe, a wood closet rod or 2 by 4 lumber, prop it up on a couple of bricks and viola! You have a jump set up!
For the jumping ring, you could hang a hoolahoop from a tree at an appropriate height for your dog, anchor it to the ground with a couple of pieces of rope and tent pegs to anchor the hoop to the ground, and you have a jumping ring!
Once you have a good grasp of how to get started in training, introduce your dog to the idea of one obstacle at a time, baby steps and more baby steps until you and your dog are Pros! If you live in or near a city that has this option, join an Agility club or take a hands on Agility course.
On my Product Reviews page, you will find a selection of training books and DVDs to help you in training your dog for Agility. Click Here to take you there in an instant!
Fun! fun! fun!
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