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Dog Agility Training for Starters

Updated on December 19, 2015

Are you planning to let your dog join your local agility competition but know nothing about this popular canine sport?

By the time you finish reading this hub, you'll know the basic mechanics of dog agility sport, the different breeds that are fit for agility training and the different agility training equipment used.

To master dog agility the dog and the handler have to evolve a close understanding of each other...

Dog agility training is a canine and handler sport where the dog will be lead by the handler through a series of obstacles. Agility training is not for all dogs, and it takes a strong handler and dog relationship to win effectively the race of time and technique.

Agility training isn't just for dogs that are to enter a local competition or race. If you want to improve your dog's agility, this training is the way to go.

In a Dog Agility Training the dog and a handler are running through an obstacle course where both accuracy and time matters. Physical contact between dog and handler is not allowed in dog agility and also the use of food, toys or treats to direct or motivate the dog is prohibited. The handler can direct the dog with verbal commands and body signals.

To master dog agility the dog and the handler have to evolve a close understanding of each other and the dog agility training is said to build a very close relationship between the dog and his owner. The typical dog agility course is constructed with standard agility jumps, walks, tunnels and seesaws in an approximately 100 x 100 foot / 30 x 30 m square.

The complexity has to be high enough so the dog cannot complete the agility course without the direction of the handler. Before the dog agility competition, the dog and handler are usually allowed a walk-through so the handler can develop a strategy for the run.

Dog Agility for All Breeds

In dog agility, all dogs are not equal. The big dog breeds like Mastiff and Great Danes usually don't have the energy to complete the agility course in full speed and they can be difficult to motivate. Short legged breeds like Wiener and Dachshund usually have problems with the agility jumps. Bulldogs, Boxers can have difficulty with their breathing.

Age can also be a factor to consider. Puppies are excluded from trials until they reach nine months of age, and it's recommended that dogs older than eight years of age enjoy their retirement - work free. Some of the best breeds for dog agility training are: Terriers, Spaniels, Pinschers, Schnauzers, Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Poodles, Collies, Cattle Dogs, Corgis, Malinois, Retrievers, and Tervurens.

[if too young] jumps and climbing should be avoided as it can be damaging the dog's joints

Puppies can't join dog agility trainings until they're 9 months old
Puppies can't join dog agility trainings until they're 9 months old

When Should You Start?

Dogs are not allowed participating in dog agility before they are 9 months old. But a dog should not participate in dog agility before he has finished growing. Especially jumps and climbing should be avoided as it can be damaging the dog's joints. You can start agility training in an early age if you stick to agility poles, tunnels, pause tables and slowly introducing small agility jumps below the height of your dogs shoulder.

Tunnels are so flexible that they can be formed into a curve.
Tunnels are so flexible that they can be formed into a curve.

Dog Agility Tunnels

Rigid agility tunnels are open all way through and supported by a wire frame covered in vinyl. The agility tunnels are so flexible that they can be formed in a curve or even bent in a 90 degrees angle. The agility tunnel is usually 15-20' in length, 24" in diameter. Collapsed agility tunnels are made with a rigid entrance, where the dog continues into a fabric trailer that the dog pushes his way through.

Dog Agility Teeter

A see-saw, or teeter-totter, is one of the agility sports most challenging experiences for a young dog. When the dog suddenly feels the ground moving it requires a good deal of trust between dog and handler. The seesaw is constructed of a broad plank balanced on a center pole in a way, so the plank returns to a starting position

Dog Agility Walk

A dog walk is built of three identical planks, one parallel to the ground and the two others serving as entrance and exit. In standard dog agility the planks are 9-12 inches / 22-30 cm wide and 8-12 foot / 2,5-3,5 m long.

Dog Agility Pause Table

The dog agility pause table is simply a platform where the dog makes a pause. It is a square about 3x3 foot / 90x90 cm and with a height of 8-30 inches / 20-70 cm. The dog jumps onto the pause table and lies rested for 5 seconds.

Agility Tire Jump

The dog jumps through an elevated tire and is not allowed to touch it. The tire is attached to a frame of standing poles.

Dog Agility Single Jump

The single jump consists of two standing poles with a horizontal bar that can be adjusted according to the size of the dog and complexity.

Double Jump

The double agility jump is constructed of two horizontal bars positioned with distance but at the same height. This forces the dog not only to jump high but also to make a long jump.

Triple Jump

The agility triple jump is constructed with three horizontal bars leveled in different heights like stair steps.

Panel Jump

The agility panel jump is constructed as a massive wall. It takes more courage and confidence for the dog to manage this jump.

Dog Agility A-Frame

A-Frames are constructed with two wide 2 planks that form an A shape. The planks are 8 foot / 2,5 m long and 36 inches / 90 cm wide. At the start and the end of the frame, two contact points are marked. The dog has to touch each contact point.

Weave Pools

Weave Poles are upright standing poles in a straight line and with a distance of 20 inches / 50 cm. The dog enters with the first pole at his left side and weaves or zigzags his way through this obstacle.

Now that you know the basics of agility training for your dog, you may start to get your dog agility trained (if your dog passes all qualifications). Dog agility training is no doubt the best way to improve your dog's physique while training for discipline and obedience with the handler.


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