Dog Agility: All Information & First Exercises

Agility is a popular dog sport that is becoming more and more popular among pet owners. And rightly so, because it offers the dog a good balance, which is particularly important for city dogs with working owners. But before you register your dog for agility, you should find out whether agility is good for your dog. In fact, incorrectly performed agility training can lead to psychological and physical problems, for example in easily excitable or handicapped dogs. So read on here and find out about the pros and cons of canine agility!

Agility: much more than just any dog ​​training

Agility is a dog sport that first originated at dog shows in England in the 1980s. An independent discipline of dog sport has long since developed from this, in which even world championships are held. The English word agility stands for dexterity and agility, which describes the core of this dog sport well because it is about the dexterity, speed, and coordination of the dog.

In agility training, the dog has to overcome a course according to certain rules. The dog and its human have to work closely together. You tell the dog where to go with commands, encouragement, and gestures.

The aim of agility training is to get the dog through a course of hurdles, slalom, tunnel, steep wall, wall, suspension bridges, tire jumping, and much more as quickly as possible and without making any mistakes. In the end, there is a reward waiting for him and in tournaments may be a trophy or a medal. For many agility dogs, successfully hurdling and being cheered on by humans is reward enough.

Agility: a dog sport with pros and cons

Only when your dog already knows all the important commands such as “Sit!”, “Stay!” and “Hop!”, and is healthy, active, and curious enough, then it’s time to get into dog agility! Because agility means shared fun, time, and creative work for dogs and humans.

It is advisable to first get to know dog agility in courses at a dog school. There, as a beginner, you will learn how to motivate your dog properly and structure the training in a manner appropriate to the species.

Here are the advantages of agility at a glance:

  • Fitness for dogs and humans
  • Strengthening of the ability to coordinate
  • mental development of the dog (ability to combine, memory)
  • species-appropriate utilization
  • Strengthening the relationship between dog and human (teamwork)
  • Social contacts with other dogs during training
  • Exchange with other dog owners

It is advisable to first get to know dog agility in courses at a dog school. There, as a beginner, you will learn how to motivate your dog properly and structure the training in a manner appropriate to the species.

Don’t lose sight of the cons either:

  • the high time requirement for training hours
  • expensive equipment you buy yourself or training hours in the dog school
  • the dog is quickly overwhelmed if the dog owner is too ambitious
  • possible stress of the dog due to high training requirements
  • Not suitable for all breeds and not for seniors or young dogs
  • taboo for dogs with current or potential joint problems
  • A result of agility that is often underestimated is the stress factor associated with overly intensive training. So learn right from the start what you can expect of your dog and how to calm and relax him after training, for example with a dog massage.

Renowned dog trainers such as Turid Rugaas warn against improper and excessive agility training. Above all, the constant cheering and goading of the dog lead to the permanent release of stress hormones, which are harmful to the dog’s organism in the long term. Great caution is also required with dogs that quickly “overreact”, are nervous, and show extreme willingness to fixate. This includes in particular Border Collies. In these cases, agility is a dog sport that should only be practiced with caution.

You can do this too: agility exercises to do at home

Nobody likes to go outside when the weather is bad, but you can do agility exercises at home with little effort and for free.

  • A classic among agility exercises to do at home is the tunnel. It is ideal if you can borrow a sack tunnel from your child. But two or three chairs and a blanket are also quite sufficient for this.
  • Line up the chairs and put a blanket over them.
  • Make sure that the chair has relatively high legs so that your dog can still fit comfortably between them.
  • Now lure your dog through the tunnel and await him on the other side.
  • Since some dogs are afraid of giving up, praise your hero as soon as he puts his head or paw in the tunnel.

This balancing exercise is also quick to do:

  • Take a sturdy shelf and place it over two crates of drinks that are as heavy as possible.
  • To be on the safe side, leash your dog. That way it doesn’t fall off so quickly. Because if there is a crash, it may have a negative impact on the experience.
  • Also, make sure the board doesn’t shift or fall off while your dog is balancing on it.

Tip:  Practice agility on a dog walk! For example, as a balancing act over a thick branch or jumping over large stones in the stream.

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