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28 May 2021

Why is agility training important for your dog?

If your dog displays anxiousness or fearfulness, you may think agility training is out of question for your pup. However, the reality is far from the truth. 

Read on the complete blog post to understand how agility training can help pups of all behavior and breeds.

 Agility training is the best form of exercise for your pup. Dog agility is a common canine sport in which the dog handler directs the pup to move through many obstacles like teeter-totter, jump, tire, tunnel, weave poles, standard jumps and pause table. In case of competitive agility events, dog handlers try to navigate dogs through a variety of courses as accurately and quickly as possible. The dog who completes all the courses in the least amount of time wins the competition.

Most often, we think that agility training is only for dogs who will participate in competitions, However, that is not true. Agility training can be done for all dogs of almost all ages, sizes and breeds. Read on to find out the primary benefits of dog agility training for your pup.

How can agility training help your pup

1. Fills your dog’s natural instinct:

Dos are natural hunters. They love to chase and run after different varieties of prey. In the wild, dogs pursue food like foxes and rabbits through a variety of obstacles on the forest floor. Their natural behavior is to jump over fallen logs, squeeze through vegetation and bushes and finally climb very steep slopes. The end goal of the dogs is to find and eat the prey, so the faster they hunt , the higher is their chance of finding a good meal at the end of the day. Agility courses focus on harnessing these habits of dogs and to fulfill their natural extinct of hunting and chasing after a prey.

2. Agility Is the best form of exercise for your dog:

Most dog owners struggle to fulfill the energy needs of their dog. Sometimes walks of even 3 hours is not enough. Here is where practicing agility exercises can help. They will help your dog get rid of the excess energy. Running through a wide variety of courses and obstacles will not only drain your dog of physical energy but will also provide enough mental stimulation to challenge his mind. Agility tasks will help strengthen your dog’s muscles, keep him fit, improve their coordination, increase their endurance and keep them fit overall.

3. Agility is for you as well as your dog:

As a trainer or handler, you will be constantly running alongside your pup, offering him/her treats and encouragement. It is hard to not be in shape when you engage in physical activities on an everyday basis. Remember to rely on the hand and verbal instructions to make your dog understand your commands to the fullest level. Helping your dog complete the agility course will allow him/her to retrain themselves in basic obedience commands, improve the communication between you and your dog and finally improves your pup’s behavior at home and every other place.

4. Agility training teaches patience to your dog:

Agility training teaches dogs to follow command, follow a certain route, go through certain obstacles on an everyday basis. Your dog is completely in tune with you when you do agility training. It not only improves your dog’s focus and concentration, it also makes your dog more in tune with your body language, thus improving the non-verbal communication between you two as well.

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What age should you start agility training for your pup?

You must never engage your pup in agility training before the age of 12 months. Until the age of one year, your pup’s body is still in the developing stage. It is advisable to not let them get hurt during this time. You can start agility training after your pup reaches the age of 1 year. During the puppy stages, you can involve your pup in other activities like pre-agility training. Pre-agility training involve obedience training and simple exercises on command. These tasks get your pup ready for the next stage, the real agility training. Remember to pay a visit your vet before you start your pup on agility training.

What type of training should you provide young puppies?

Puppies are a huge ball of energy and playfulness. Even though they are not ready for hiking, agility training or running, they can be involved in other forms of exercises like bow, sit, shake hands, roll over etc.

Pre-agility training for puppies:

Pre-agility prepares your dog to do agility tasks. These tasks involve flat-work which won’t put any kind of pressure on the joints or bones of your puppy. Pre-agility training also involves hand targeting, tricks as well as shadow handling. Flat work also involves introducing our pup to the obstacles present on the ground. Focus on the teamwork and communication with your pup. Making your pup learn something new will take a while and patience is the key here. Do not try to teach your pup anything in a hurry, it wont work. However, when you take the time and do the effort to train your boy or girl, the rewards will be amazing.

 

When to start the pre-agility training for your pup?

Pre-agility training can be started after the age of 4 months. The reason a 4 month wait period is asked from dog guardians is so that dogs can get to a stage where they can start responding to basic commands like sit, stay or respond to verbal communication.

Start training your pup between the age of 1 to 2:

Most dogs become fully mature by the age of one. However, a few breeds like Great Danes take longer (12 to 18 months) to grow to their full size. That is why training of around the age of one year is advised. The safest option is to wait till 2 years before you start training.

Dogs who might be unsuitable for agility training:

  • Young puppies (under 2 years of age)
  • Senior dogs (dogs who are over the age of 8 years)
  • Dogs suffering from structural problems (arthritis, hip dysplasia)
  • Bracycephalic dog breeds (Mastiffs, Pugs, bulldogs etc)
  • Dogs with breathing problems

Exercises for fragile dog breeds:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Jogging


Which are the dog breeds which are most suitable for agility?

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Shetland sheepdogs
  • Dutch sheperds
  • Jack Russell terriors
  • Poodles
  • Border Collies
  • Golden Retreivers
  • German sheperds
  • Whippets
  • Papillons
  • Etc

Steps to follow to start agility training with your pup

There are many ways to get your pup to enjoy the process of agility training. Agility training can be started in a few simple and easy to follow steps:


1. Prepare your dog for the training process. This includes training your dog for obedience, proper exercise and nutrition and finally apt amount of socialization with other dogs as well as other humans.
 
2. Get your equipment ready. Introduce your dog to the equipment and allow them to familiarize themselves with the equipment and get used to the feel of those.
 
3. Get your dog used to using the equipment.

What are the basic agility courses for pups to start with?

There are 7 basic agility obstacles which you can start with during the initial stages of training your pup:

  •  Standard jumps
  • Pause tables
  • Dogwalk
  • Ture jumps
  • Teeter boards
  • Tunnels
  • Weave poles.

How to actually start the training process?

Training your dog any and everything will need a ton of patience and perseverance from your side. You can gain any height with the right kind of attitude and methods. A few things to keep in mind are the following:

  • Reward your pup with a ton of praises, kisses, toys, treats etc.
  • Start with super short training sessions and begin to extend them very slowly.
  • Think of your pup’s safety first before embarking on any obstacle.
  • Stay positive and have a ton of patience.

Some final thoughts:

Canine sports are an amazing way to give your pup with the proper kind of physical activity. Once your pup has mastered agility training, there are many other activities you can enjoy with your dog as well. This is the most amazing way to enjoy with your companion and stay fit, happy and healthy.

See you in my next blog post

Shruti





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