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Dog Agility Training is Great For Everyone!!

You’ve probably seen dog agility before — the sport where dogs zoom around an obstacle course, flying over jumps and through tunnels, side-by-side with their handler. It’s one of the most popular dog sports around, and it’s a thrill to watch.

But what if competition isn’t quite your thing? No worries! While agility is a competitive sport, you don’t have to set your sights on competition to get the benefits.

If you have a fearful or anxious dog, you might think competitive dog sports are out of the question. After all, if unfamiliar people, dogs, and/or environments overwhelm your dog, how can you train him to participate, let alone compete, successfully? However, when it comes to agility, the very process of training might be just what your dog needs to help overcome his anxiety.

In the sport of agility, a dog and his handler complete an obstacle course. The dog tackles a fun array of obstacles, such as jumps and a seesaw (teeter-totter), in the order the handler dictates, all while racing against the clock. It requires teamwork between the dog and handler, focus, and self-control. Facing the obstacles also requires confidence. And for a fearful dog, the benefits of training these behaviors and building these personality traits are endless.

During an agility trial, a dog must look to his handler to know which obstacle to approach and in what order. In addition, the dog and handler run beside one another and coordinate their movements around the course, with the dog reading the handler’s body language and cues. To be successful, the dog must focus on his handler’s instructions, and the two must work as a team.

What are the benefits of agility for dogs?

1. Outlet for physical and mental energy

As you can probably guess, agility is great for helping your dog release their energy in a safe, fun way. Particularly for breeds with high drive and bucket loads of energy, dog agility is perfect for letting them run at full speed, focused on the task at hand. It helps build lean muscle, strengthen joints and improve your dog’s coordination. And a secondary (though no less important) benefit is the mental energy release — after even a short session of agility practice, you’ll often have one tired pup.

2. Helps build your dog’s confidence

A confident dog is a happy dog, and there’s no better way to build a dog’s confidence than to work together with you, their human.

Agility training can help your dog get over fears of unusual surfaces, small spaces, ‘scary’ situations, and completing tasks without being right by your side.

Plus, they’ll be rewarded after every exercise, run and session with their absolute favourite thing (more about rewarding your dog here), helping them build their confidence and trust in themselves even more — you can even see some dogs’ reaction after they’ve nailed a course, feeling that ‘hell yeah, I did it!’ moment.

The confidence built while practicing agility will even transfer over into other parts of your dog’s life too, whether that be confidence in new situations or meeting new people and dogs.

3. Great for developing self-control

Given the chance, most untrained dogs will run to whatever obstacle, or task, they find most attractive at the time.

Some dogs are crazy about tunnels, and others nuts about seesaws and jumps. Others just like to run anywhere at top speed!

In doing agility practice, whether it be with or without equipment, your dog will learn to harness their self control and commit to the task that you’re asking them to do.

4. Helps with distraction training

No matter whether you train agility at home or at an agility training facility, your dog will need to get used to distractions they might not face in everyday life.

Take the agility hall, for example: there could be dozens of (probably barking) dogs, people walking around, noises and new smells — and your dog still has to focus on their job of running the course. Over time, your dog will be able to ignore distractions in day-to-day life much easier too.

5. Strengthens the dog’s natural instincts

Think about what an agility course involves: running over and under different obstacles of all shapes and sizes, changing direction and focusing on a changing goal. It’s a little like dogs running through the forest, chasing after prey. Running an agility course strengthens that goal-oriented instinct and builds their natural drive.

6. Handler benefits!

Realistically, the benefits of agility for the dog are benefits for you too — seeing your dog confident, happy and having fun is all we can ask for as dog owners.

7. You’ll have greater trust & confidence in your dog

When you work with your dog in agility, you build a level of trust and confidence that you wouldn’t likely get otherwise. Trust around other dogs, people and situations that would otherwise be a source of stress.

Agility helps build your bond with your dog, to develop an almost magical connection and lifelong friendship. Seeing your dog happy, loving their life and learning new things is all a dog owner can ask for — and doing fun things together is the way to get exactly that!

What type of dogs can do agility?

When most people think agility, the first breeds you may think of are speed-of-light Border Collies, Aussie Shepherds and Shelties.

But really, any dog is an agility dog! Provided your pup is healthy, they’ll have a blast learning new things, running around, and most importantly doing something fun with you.

At what age can dogs do agility?

You can start agility flatwork and tunnel training with a puppy as young as 8 weeks old. However, before your dog can complete a full course he should be at least 12-18 months of age, as agility is a high-impact sport. Older dogs attempt jumps at a lower height than younger canine athletes, but can still enjoy this activity

Can all dogs do agility?

All breeds, including mixed breeds, can participate in Agility – from the smallest to the largest of dogs! All dogs can do agility regardless of their size. Due to their low weight, small dogs often even have the advantage of hardly developing any joint problems and therefore have less cause to fear health problems triggered by sporting activities.

Is my dog a good candidate for agility?

5 Signs Your Dog Is Ready To Try Agility:

  • #1 – Active & Energetic. Agility is best suited for dogs that enjoy physical activity. ...

  • #2 – Basic Obedience Covered. ...

  • #3 – Properly Socialized. ...

  • #4 – Good Physical Health. ...

  • #5 – Beginning Boredom Behaviors.

7 Signs Your Dog Could Be Great At Agility:

  1. Your dog loves to look at you. ...

  2. Your dog loves treats and toys. ...

  3. Your dog loves to follow you. ...

  4. Your dog loves to chase things. ...

  5. Your dog loves to sniff. ...

  6. Your dog loves to run. ...

  7. Your dog loves to pull.

The bottom line is that dog agility is the ultimate team sport for dog and handler, and should be experienced by everybody! Even if it is not for you or your dog, you will have fun in the attempt!

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