Agility Training for Dogs
Do you want to have some fun while exercising and training your dog? Have you ever thought about agility training for dogs? Agility training for dogs can be fun for you and your dog while providing physical and mental exercise.
When training your dog for agility, you need to stay positive and keep it fun. Keep training sessions short to keep your dog’s attention. Long sessions that are repetitive in nature can become boring and unproductive.
Dogs that are still growing will need a modified agility course to be simple, small and lower. You don’t want to cause injuries to their growing joints. Your puppy should be at least 12 months old before you move on to standard equipment and heights.
With all the running and jumping, agility is hard on your dog’s joints. You have to take extra precautions with senior dogs to protect their aging joints. Just as with puppies, use a simple agility course that is small, with obstacles that are low to the ground.
Before you begin to train your dog for agility, you need to teach them basic commands. They will need to know how to sit, stay, come, and lie down.
Introduce agility obstacles slowly, as to not overwhelm your dog. You can introduce one obstacle and work with your dog to master that obstacle and then move on to another obstacle.
Setup the jump with the bar on the ground or a few inches above the ground. The object is to teach your dog to go over the bar using the “over” command, jumping over will come later.
First, show your dog the jump and allow them to check it out and smell it of course, then take your dog about five steps from the jump. Use the command “over” and lead your dog to go over the jump. When your dog crosses the bar, give them a treat or praise.
Repeat the process until your dog learns the “over” command, then you can slowly raise the bar higher for your dog. Take your time and don’t rush.
Make the tunnel as short as possible by scrunching it together at first, until your dog gets used to it. Allow you dog to explore the tunnel, then begin by running a long lead through the tunnel.
Have your dog sit and stay at one end of the tunnel. You go to the other end of the tunnel and command your dog to “come”. Use the lead to gently guide your dog through the tunnel.
You can use a treat or toy to encourage your dog to go through the tunnel, but don’t place a treat or toy inside the tunnel. You don’t want your dog stopping inside the tunnel. Place the treat or toy outside the tunnel on the ground.
When your dog will go into the tunnel on command, you can stretch the tunnel out to make it longer. You will run along the side of the tunnel with your dog, encouraging them with your voice. Then you can curve the tunnel to the left and then to the right.
Show the hoop to your dog and place it on the ground flat. Allow your dog to smell it, then hold the hoop upright with the bottom of the hoop on the ground.
With your dog on one side of the hoop, hold a treat or toy on the other side of the hoop to encourage your dog to walk through the hoop. Say the command “through” when your dog walks through the hoop.
Now place the hoop a few inches off of the ground. Begin about five steps back from the hoop and run with your dog to the hoop using the command “through”, encouraging your dog to jump through the hoop. Reward your dog for their success.
Starting with the table as low as possible, run with your dog on a leash towards the pause table. When you get to the table, say “table” and pat the table. When your dog jumps on the table, give them a reward and praise.
Repeat the steps above several times, then add the “sit” command to the routine. When your dog jumps on the table, say “sit”. You want your dog to sit and stay for 5 seconds. Use the “stay” command if necessary.
Some agility competitions will require your dog to lie down on the pause table. You can practice with your dog to not only sit on the pause table, but to also lie down on the table.
The weave poles are difficult obstacles to learn and you should start with just 6 poles. It will take a lot of patience and many training sessions to master the weave poles.
Using a short leash, guide your dog slowly through the weave poles beginning on the right side and use the “weave” command. Be patient and be sure to reward success. If your dog misses a pole, go back and start over. Keep your voice positive.
Allow your dog investigate the dog walk before attempting to lead your dog across the walk. Lower the dog walk if possible, to it’s lowest setting. You are going to walk along side of the walk so it would be ideal if another person was on the other side.
Lead your dog up the walk with a treat, toy or praise and across down the other side. At the bottom your dog should walk all the way down the dog walk and touch the contact zones on the dog walk. Give your dog a reward when they step off of the dog walk.
The seesaw can be scary for dogs when it moves and tilts in the other direction making your dog unsure. They need to become confident with the movements.
Again, allow your dog to smell the seesaw before attempting to train. Place the seesaw on it’s lowest setting as close to the ground as possible to begin with.
With a short leash held close to the neck, lead your dog with a treat up the plank with the command “teeter”. If you have another person helping, that person should prevent the plank from lowering too fast when your dog comes down the other side. Reward your dog for success.
Lower the A-frame to the lowest setting to the ground and allow your dog to check it out. As with the seesaw, lead your dog up the A-frame with a treat and down the other side. Make sure your dog touches the contact zone on the down side. Reward your dog for success.
As you can see, agility training for dogs can be fun and releases physical and mental energy from your dog. As you run along with your dog, you are getting exercise too! Win win for both of you.
Have you trained your dog for agility? Leave a comment below about your dog or share a story. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.