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How and When to Start a Dog in Agility Training

Updated on April 26, 2010
Dog agility training, ozgary, morguefile.com
Dog agility training, ozgary, morguefile.com

Agility training is a canine sport inspired by the famous obstacle courses crafted for horses. This canine sport mainly consists of a series of obstacles of different levels of difficulty, strategically laid out by an agility judge.  Because dogs run off leash during this competition, communication and reliance on the handler are key to success. In order to excel in this sport therefore, dogs require a high level of obedience and versatility.

Agility Dog Training Galore

Outward Hound Kyjen  DG40100 Dog Agility Starter Kit with Dog Tunnel Weave Pole High Jump Obstacles, Large, Red
Outward Hound Kyjen DG40100 Dog Agility Starter Kit with Dog Tunnel Weave Pole High Jump Obstacles, Large, Red

Provide interactive fun and exercise for the family dog with this agility starter kit. Agility training is a popular dog sport that can be learned relatively quickly. The kit comes complete with the supplies needed to perform the following agility tests: weave poles, high jump, open tunnel, and pause box. On command, the dog must accomplish the tests by racing against the clock or other dogs. The agility tests keep the dog's senses sharpened, body properly exercised, and brain occupied. In addition, it enhances the bond between dog and human.

 

Tips on Agility Training for Dogs

Agility training is a fast growing sport that attracts more and more dog owners. Because it can be quite exciting to watch, many spectators find this sport very engaging. Top qualities dogs must have in order to excel in agility are speed, flexibility, versatility, obedience, and agility, of course. Handlers on the other hand, must be able to guide their dogs and communicate with them effectively. As such, when put to the test, both dog and human form a team that will ultimately significantly strengthen the bond. 

 Watch the Age

Young dogs should not be started in agility too early since their bones and joints may have not had time yet to fully develop. Indeed, no respective agility club will take a dog that has not finished developing. This is to prevent major injuries ands stresses on joints in such a delicate phase as development. This especially applies to those large breed pups that significantly grow and mature slowly.

, Have a Check Up

It never hurts to have a dog seen by a vet before engaging in a sport as agility. This will help point out any weaknesses that can be detrimental if not discovered in time. Conditions such as hip displaysia, may be worsen significantly and be agility training may be contraindicated.A vet check up is always in order for those breeds prone to orthopedic problems since some  motivated dogs with high drive levels may be unlikely to demonstrate significant discomfort during agility work.

 Start Early 

While engaging in agility too early may negatively affect the puppy's development, this does not mean that a puppy should have to wait past its adolescent stage in order to get started. Your puppy may be able to perform some basics (such as climbing steps, stepping on different surfaces, climbing over logs etc.) It's all good experience for him and starting early can really make a difference. Discuss with your vet what you are planning to do and ask specifics about what your puppy can do or cannot do at this stage.

 • Know the Basics

A good level of obedience training is required before enrolling a dog in agility training. In order to excel, dogs and owners must be able to communicate effectively. Because agility courses are carried out with the dog off leash and without the aid of treats, toys or other lures, the ability for the handler to communicate only through voice, movement, and various body signals is key in order to succeed.

• Start Easy and Slowly

In order to help your dog succeed start easily and slowly progress to more challenging obstacles. Start out by offering simplified, small  and low agility equipment and then work your way up to progress. Some timid dogs may need loads of encouragement in order to build up their confidence levels, while others may have little hesitation.

 Practice at Home

You do not have to regularly attend agility training classes -even though a few classes are highly recommended to get a grip on the sport- to get started in agility. Today, agility courses can be easily assembled at home by purchasing dog agility kits. If you are creative enough, you can also assemble your own agility course by purchasing some items from your hardware store, but safety comes always first. Do not assemble anything that is not safe and secure for you and your dog.


As seen, agility is quite an addicting sport that is growing in popularity.  Basically any dog can enjoy agility training if it has the qualities that makes him or her ultimately excel. Agility training is also a great way for hyperactive dogs to get rid of pent up energy and ultimately bond with their owners as they work as a team.

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    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Having taken my beautiful yellow Lab to agility after some basic obedience when she was about 2yo, I appreciate you recommending a check-up, especially with the risk of hip dysplasia in the big guys/ gals... this is a very well-written article.

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 8 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      I have three Australian Shepherds with high energy levels. I wish I had trained them in this sport when they were younger. Good hub.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      This is another awesome hub, I love my pets and they are always so perfectly good that love is all you need. Great hub and this is a big thumbs up!

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