How To Start Dog Agility Training At Home
Dog agility is a fun, fast-paced activity that has benefits for both you and your dog. It’s a timed obstacle course where you (the handler) directs your dog through a predetermined pattern of obstacles. A dog agility course usually has 12-18 obstacles made up of tunnels, jumps, tire jumps, weave poles and “ramp” obstacles. You rely on body language and vocal cues to tell your dog how to navigate the course.
Any dog can take part in dog agility, provided your pup is healthy, they’ll have the best time learning new things, running around, and most importantly doing something fun with you!
Why is Agility Training Good For Dogs?
Here are the key benefits of dog agility training:
- Provides good exercise: helps burn off any excess energy and keeps your dog fit and healthy as it's a great cardio workout (it's also great exercise for you)
- Improves behaviour: teaches your dog how to focus on specific tasks helping them to improve obeying commands
- Appeals to a dog's natural instinct: agility mimics dogs chasing their prey in the wild and helps stimulate their natural hunting instinct
- Strengthens your bond: your dog has to rely on your verbal commands to complete the course and you have to rely on your dog to follow them, so you gain a new level of trust from one another
- It's fun!
How To Get Started With Dog Agility At Home
You can easily get started at home with DIY obstacles or check out our range of dog agility equipment to start your dog off in their agility training journey.
The best agility equipment to get started with is a simple dog jump, agility weave poles, a hoop jump and a tunnel. We also stock the famous Fly Ball game, which is so much fun for your dog, think of it as a relay race for dogs!
Then, once you and your dog start to become more practised and confident, think about joining a local agility class or club and take part in a couple of sessions a week.
Basic Agility Moves
The first place to start is to teach your dog to work on both your right and left sides rather than directly in front of you (which is where they'd usually be to perform commands such as sit, paw etc).
Start off by rewarding your dog for sitting beside you, then work towards having them walk beside you (similar to heel), slowly at first then building up to a run.
Next, try to master working in a circle, use a tree or a large object as a guide and move around it in a circle so your dog follows. Be sure to go in both directions and for an extra challenge, line up two objects and run around them in a figure of eight.
Another basic move is teaching your dog to go on in front of you to tackle an obstacle as you won’t always be able to keep up and run by their side. An easy way to build this skill is by using a low agility jump and their favourite toy or treats. Start by throwing the toy or treat over the jump so your dog can chase after it, jumping the obstacle as they go. Once they grasp this movement, you can add in a verbal cue like “go” and start adding distance a little bit at a time. Don’t forget to play this game with your dog starting on both your right and left sides.
These basic moves will help get you started at home, the more difficult handling is best taught by a tutor in a group or private class.
So what do you think? Sound like fun?