Our GRIN Goldens, Doodles, Flat-Coated Retrievers, and other dog family members may benefit from plenty of exercise. Agility can assure they get the exercise in a fun format! Read on from the AKC website:
Agility is one of the fastest-growing dog sports in the country—and for good reason. It’s incredible exercise for both you and your dog, and it forges an even deeper relationship between you. Plus, it’s exhilarating to watch as your dog nimbly and quickly crawls through tunnels, weaves around poles, and leaps through tires! Here’s everything you need to know to get started in Agility:
Understand the Basics
Dog agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have between 14-20 obstacles, which can include tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time. At each trial you and your dog will race around the unique courses designed for that day. All of this is done with your dog relying solely on the cues and body language you use to direct them on course.
All breeds, including mixed breeds, can participate in Agility – from the smallest to the largest of dogs.
If you’ve never seen Agility in person, we highly recommend you attend a competition (or “trial”) to see it firsthand.
Make Sure the Sport of Agility Is Right for Your Dog – and You
Assess your dog’s temperament to be sure he’s right for Agility: Is he highly energetic? Does he enjoy running and responding to instruction? Does he get along well with other dogs? If so, agility could be a great fit.
But training doesn’t only involve your dog. You are critical to the process. You don’t need to be a world class sprinter to do agility with your dog. Through training and the development of good communication you and your dog can become part of the sport of Agility.
Take a Class
Beginner courses introduce you and your dog to obstacles, and provide the basics of how to compete should you decide to go that route. Most classes meet once a week for an hour or so.
Practice at Home Using Your Own Equipment
Just because you’ve signed up for a class, don’t think the learning stops there. Practicing at home is just as important! To do so, you’ll want to set up your own obstacles. First-timers often start out with tunnels, which can be collapsed when not in use, and tunnel holders to keep them in place. Weave poles—or a few evenly spaced upright poles that your dog can run through—are another popular at-home obstacle. At-home training equipment can be purchased online or you can build it yourself with PVC pipes. If you go the DIY route, be sure to follow the Rules of Agility specifications. (Check for them in your preferred search engine.).
Count on spending at least 15-20 minutes a day practicing the moves you learned in class. Consider using incentives such as treats or toys to help entice your dog through the course. Take your time, especially in the beginning while you’re both getting used to the sport.
Portions reprinted from the AKC website. Founded in 1884, the not-for-profit AKC is the recognized and trusted expert in breed, health, and training information for dogs. AKC actively advocates for responsible dog ownership and is dedicated to advancing dog sports.