Agility Training for Dogs: Benefits and Starting Tips
Agility training for dogs is becoming a favorite sport among dog owners.
This quick-of-speed, beat-the-clock, race-to-the-finish line obstacle course is a safe and fun way for your dog to burn off all their excess energy.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start agility training with your dog.
We’ll include things like the benefits of this engaging sport, how to get your pooch started and some handy tips to help you and your canine superstar along the way.
Benefits of Agility Training for Dogs
Dog agility training is an intense obstacle course which includes weaving around poles, running through tunnels, navigating the teeter-totter and jumping standard poles and tires.
Sound like fun?
Pet parents and dogs all have a blast completing the course. In fact, unlike traditional dog races where Greyhounds can become seriously injured, the agility course can offer both you and your canine companion health benefits.
Check these top 4 benefits out!
1. Strengthens Your Bonds
Agility training takes a tremendous amount of time and practice.
You and your dog work as a team to complete the course. You give verbal and hand commands, and your dog pays attention to what you’re directing them to do.
This interaction creates a better relationship inside and outside of the ring.
2. Fulfills Their Natural Instincts
Even though we’ve domesticated the canine species, they still have some natural instincts that they need to fill.
These actions date back to when dogs lived in the wild, and they would have to chase down their prey to eat.
Training your dog on an agility course takes those natural hunting skills like jumping over fallen logs, climbing steep inclines and squeezing through brush, and combines them into an obstacle course.
Since the course closely mimics these natural skills, your dog will love to participate.
3. Burns Off Excess Energy
Running an obstacle course is a great way for our dogs to not only burn off excess energy, but it keeps their muscles in shape.
It also improves their coordination, increases endurance and even provides them with mental stimulation.
4. Great Cardio Workout For You Too!
As your dog’s “handler” you will be running alongside them giving the hand signals and verbal commands. Your direction helps to direct them through the course.
Don’t be fooled; this is a great cardio workout for you too!
Standard tunnel obstacle! Image by: Daisyree Bakker
Getting Started in Agility Training for Dogs
You may be excited to give it a try now that we’ve given you all the exciting aspects of agility training.
There are two basic methods to get started; find an agility club or make a DIY course.
Let’s cover the benefits and drawbacks to both.
Agility Clubs for Dogs
Agility clubs for dogs have professionals to either train your dog themselves, or to teach you and your dog how to participate in this exciting sport.
Start by finding an agility club in your area and set up an appointment or attend one of their events.
Don’t forget to ask these 10 questions before taking an agility class.
You can find clubs in your area with a simple Google Search or search on Instagram.
We’ve also compiled a list of prominent North American agility organizations to help you narrow down your search.
Other good places to help you find an agility club are through your local kennel club, veterinarians or even an animal shelter.
DIY Agility Course
Training your dog in agility on your own may be the way to go if their already well trained or you want a more informal environment.
DIY courses tend to fit owner’s on both sides of the spectrum. They provide an informal setting if you’re not interested in the competitive aspect of the sport.
However, it will also work well for those who are super competitive and want to train their dog daily.
If you decide to make your own course prepare to spend some money, because creating the standard course can be pricey.
You will also need a large backyard or area that is suitable to set up the course. Correctly setting up the course is important to ensure you and your pooch train safely.
Dogs of all sizes love to participate! Image by: Lil Shepherd
Basic Agility Course Obstacles
- Weave Poles
- Standard Jumps
- Pause Table
- Tire Jump
Tips on Agility Training Your Dog
Before you jump into training your dog, there are some tips that you will want to keep in mind.
Age, breed and overall health of your pet are crucial factors in determining whether or not your dog is a good candidate for this fast-paced sport.
Also, certain breeds will need attention if they’re prone to hip or elbow dysplasia, have visual limitations or have yet to develop fully.
Be sure to check with your veterinarian before you start agility training with your dog.
Shy or nervous dogs can benefit from the sport, just be sure your pooch is up to the task mentally.
They may require more patience and training away from the course before they’re comfortable enough to participate.
Whether you do the training yourself or hire a professional, always use or search out the trainers using positive reinforcement techniques.
This should be a fun experience for your dog.
We always recommend you avoid punishment or those that train through intimidation techniques.
One way to train with positive reinforcement is to give your dog a treat after they’ve done a task correctly.
We’ve compiled a list of the best dog training treats here.
Just Plain Fun!
There’s a reason why agility training for dogs is growing in popularity - it’s just plain fun!
Whether you decide to go at it alone or hire a professional, the benefits for your canine are immense. It’s something you and your pooch can enjoy together.
Get out there and enjoy the journey. Who knows? You and your canine companion may be the next big contenders in the agility ring.
Feature image by: Jonas Löwgren