How Old Should A Dog Be To Start Agility Training
- October 12, 2021
Let’s look at the deciding factors when it comes to starting agility training with your dog. .
It's All Tricks Training: Preparing Your Puppy for Dog Agility
As long as you choose agility prep activities that are appropriate for your puppy’s age, you and your dog will reap the benefits.Helpline and longtime agility competitor, Penny Leigh, believes, “It is really a huge advantage to introduce puppies to foundation exercises and low-level equipment.She also recommends owners avoid telling their puppy “no.” Instead, reward the positive behaviors you want and ignore the negative ones you don’t.“For hesitant puppies, take things slowly, never force them to do anything that they are afraid of, and use a lot of positive reinforcement to encourage them.”.Of course, all this self-confidence will be a boost on the agility field as your dog will need to run the course off-leash and use independent skills to succeed.Leigh explains that the super-fast, charged up dogs racing across the agility course in mere seconds may not seem to have self-control.“But they do have control – start-line stays, the ability to complete all the weave poles and hit all the contact zones.Another good impulse-control exercise is teaching your puppy to go to his bed or mat to rest or relax until he is released.Introducing any puppy to new surfaces is an important part of socialization, but for the agility dog to-be, it’s critical.Leigh explains, “they will be executing teeters that move and bang, as well as running across dog walks, through tunnels that may have a strange feel to their feet and lying down on a table that can have various surfaces.”.Teach him to climb different types of stairs (wooden, carpeted, open-backed) and walk across various floors including slick and slippery ones.Go back and start very slow, perhaps with your puppy just smelling the surface, then touching with one paw, and so forth.”.Although you can work up to a wobble board (a piece of plywood, at least two-foot square, with something small underneath like a tennis ball to make it unstable), you can start simpler.De Young also recommends training your puppy to move out away from you and circle around an object like a cone before returning.She also teaches back up because it’s an excellent way to develop rear-end awareness – an important agility skill when traveling across obstacles like the dog walk at high speed.She believes that tricks aren’t only fun, they can also be taught quickly and used as stress relievers and a way to gain your dog’s focus when he’s old enough to compete.She explains, “Puppies’ growth plates are still open, so it is crucial that they don’t jump full height or climb on full-height contacts and do closed weaves before they are mature.Now, for the first time, AKC teams up with the presenters of the Longines Masters horse show to bring the AKC Agility Premier Cup presented by EEM to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, April 25.Get tickets to see America’s best canine athletes jump, weave, and race for top honors at this premier event. .
How to Train Your Dog in Agility Sports
During the trials, dog and handler teams compete to see who can complete the obstacle course the fastest and with the fewest mistakes.Begin by working on basic obedience and teach your puppy to sit, lie down, come, heel, and stay.Your puppy will also benefit from attending training classes where they will learn basic obedience and get used to working around lots of other dogs and people.Having your pet take and pass the AKC Good Citizen Test is a helpful step.Once your dog is ready to start agility training, your best bet is to find a class or group in your area.In the classes, you will be able to introduce your dog to the obstacles without the expense of buying or building them yourself.You may need to use some extra special treats the first few times to coax your dog onto these obstacles.For large and medium breed dogs, keep the bar 1 or 2 inches off the ground.Approach the jump briskly, and in most cases, your dog will hop over the hurdle.Once your dog has learned the basics, it's time to begin teaching agility specifics.Put on a leash and lead the dog through the middle channel between the poles.This forces your dog to bend its body a bit to work its way through the middle channel.If you have practiced basic commands before you begin agility training, your dog will be ahead of the game.Once it is able to stay for 5 seconds or more, practice with lots of distractions to mimic the experience at an agility trial.If you wait too long to give the command for the next obstacle, your dog may make the choice itself, and it may not be the right one.Once your dog has gotten the hang of doing two obstacles in a row, you can add another, and so on, until it is able to complete an entire course.If you work on agility training at home, your backyard is likely a controlled environment with very few distractions.It's a good idea to proof your dog's training in different locations to prepare it for distractions.You might also want to go to a training center or find local trainers who also have the obstacles set up in their backyard.Running the obstacles at home may have to be enough, no matter how much your heart is set on having a winning pup.If yours isn't the show off on a big stage type, simply take joy in the bonding experience that agility training offers you and your dog. .
This is where you need to be very careful because a puppy under the age of one can permanently damage it’s joints on agility equipment and some dogs need even longer.And even though most organizations will allow you to compete with a dog one year of age, some large breeds such as a German Shepherd dog or Rottie should not be jumping full height until 16 – 18 months.With that in mind we will get started.Most puppies can start pre-agility training at 4 months of age, providing the instructor has knowledge of the proper exercises, equipment height and lesson durations.You can introduce your puppy to lessons that teach body awareness such as Box Work; standing on small raised surfaces like a table on the ground and getting into a “box” with all feet, walking over low bars, wobble boards and walking on planks.With all that being said, remember this is a time to have fun and build confidence in a young mind. .
When can a puppy start agility training?
But in reality, dogs as young as a few months old can build the foundations for their agility careers – or, of course, just have awesome fun and learn new skills with you!It’s true that there are certain movements, exercises and techniques that puppies and young dogs shouldn’t attempt before they’re fully grown.Puppies’ bones are soft, and growth plates are open until they’ve finished growing – so overexerting them or encouraging dangerous movements can cause permanent and severe damage.They can, however, get started on fun games and exercises that prepare their minds and bodies for learning big-dog agility in the future.The track might feel funny under their paws, and all of the excitement from the humans and dogs in the room could be a little stressful or distracting.Gaining and keeping focus is at the core of agility practice, so getting to know your puppy’s mental state and the things that excite them (and calm them down) is a great next step.And because the dog has to move in every possible direction on the agility course, teaching body awareness and movement on their left and right sides equally is a critical part of their basic training.So, when she developed the Foundation for Agility course, she made sure to address even the smallest of problems that handlers might overlook.Even better, you can get started with several of these techniques at the foundation level (with some adapted for puppies and young dogs, of course) without having to complete many repetitions.All the games, exercises and techniques you’ll need in a super-simple, easy to follow course for puppies, young dogs, and older agility newbies too! .
Starting dog agility: Common questions answered
Is my dog too old to start agility training?Certainly overweight dogs can start agility training, and the exercise may well help them slim down, but safety needs to also be exercised in choosing what obstacles and at what height the overweight dog should perform them.What breeds/types of dogs can train in agility?What agility class should I take?You will want to start in some sort of “Introduction to Dog Agility” or “Foundations/Fundamentals for Dog Agility” class.Debbie Harrison is a community contributor on AnnArbor.com's pet section and entered the world of agility in 1992. .
Senior Dog Agility
Canine agility is a popular competitive sport that requires cooperation between dog and handler.A specifically designed course containing a variety of obstacles such as tunnels, jumps, teeter-totters, weave poles, and cones is set up.Agility trials can be quite competitive with really serious contenders, but many dogs and their owners run them just for fun and exercise.Organizations like the US Dog Agility Association (USDAA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) offer modified courses for older runners.Older dogs attempt jumps at a lower height than younger canine athletes.These modifications are intended to reduce injury and increase safety while still allowing the older dog to exercise and compete.We take care of our dog’s needs providing food and shelter, but those luxuries don’t erase his natural survival instincts.Dogs in the wild hunt for their food by running through field or forest, jumping over logs, climbing up slopes, crouching under bushes, and making sharp turns to catch their prey.Agility courses reflect the hunting experience and allow dogs to use their inborn instincts.Training and running an agility course helps dogs build and retain strong muscles, increase endurance, maintain a healthy weight, and improve coordination.Courses are designed so that dogs rely on their owner’s guidance through the use of verbal commands and hand signals.This close bond breaches the confines of a designated agility course and follows the dynamic duo into daily life.There are independent agility courses set up in various dog parks and green spaces for recreational exercise.It’s important to verify that heart, lungs, muscles, and joints can tolerate the strain of agility training.In the case of arthritic joints, medical intervention may increase the benefits and decrease the discomfort of exercising.Gauge ability and reset activity level as needed working up to a full agility course.Warming up muscles and joints will help prevent injury and engage the dog’s focus before entering the agility area.Walk, then jog a bit to make muscles, tendons, and ligaments more pliable before running the course.Likewise, dogs that enjoy a romp but heed when their owners call them back are good agility contenders.Drinking adequate amounts of water and adding electrolyte supplements will prevent dehydration.Monitor the weather to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold for your canine friend to run an outside agility course. .