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to do Dog Agility Training
you start with
Agility! What to consider and do?
Are YOU a good candidate for
you love to run with your dog, if you can accept the fact that any
mistake the dog makes will always be your fault and if you will always
celebrate with your dog each and every round on the course, regardless
of mistakes then you are the perfect candidate. And, I forgot to
mention, you must always be willing to learn from other people and
your DOG a good candidate for agility?
people believe that the Border Collie is the only agility dog. Well
that is not so. I have seen many Border Collie owners with extremely
fast dogs being disqualified time after time, only because they have no
control over their dogs. If your dog is healthy and without any hip or
other joint problems, there is no reason why you cannot do agility with
your dog. In fact, doing agility with your dog, whatever the breed, is
very good for the dog. It gives your dog physical exercise of all the
muscles, it is mentally stimulating and it is great fun for your dog to
interact with his human.
of the "right" agility dog
you want to do agility, not just for fun, but also to compete in
competitions, then you want the "right" dog.
You have to look
- the willingness to run - You will probably be better of
with a dog
with a high energy level. He must be willing to run with you even when
it is hot. Agility is a very fast and active sport. Although it is not
always the fastest dog that wins, it will be to your advantage if your
dog can cover ground very fast. If your dog is a trotter and not a
runner, you will have to work extra hard to encourage him to run.
to please you - Agility requires teamwork and your dog
needs to be
willing to work with and for you. It requires excellent focus from the
dog to be aware of every body signal that you send out. Some breeds are
more independant and like to think for themselves, where as some dogs
to be unwilling to work untill you start training them.
drive - If your dog has prey drive (the desire to chase
moves) you can have a winner. You want a dog that is more interested in
chasing you than in sniffing around.
Confident dog - Most
dogs will gain confidence while training agility. I have seen many dogs
growing in confidence, but it takes extra confidence to learn to
perform each obstacle well and without fear as well as handling the
environment of trials.
other people - Your dog
should trust you, but he should also trust other people. He will have
to interact with many different people during classes and at trials.
You do not want a dog that stops in the middle of a course to bark at
with other dogs - At training classes and at trials there
are always many other dogs around, therefor your dog needs to be well
socialized with other dogs. You should be in control of your dog at all
times. If your dog is not so friendly towards other dogs, he should
always be on lead except when it is his turn to run.
age and weight - As mentioned before, your dog should be
in perfect health and not over-weight. There is tremedous pressure on
the dog's joints when he performs the obstacles and it is very bad for
him if he has to carry extra weight around.
The traditional training methods were based on correcting undesired
behaviours, whereas positive reinforcement is based on reinforcing
desired behaviours. All agility training must be correction free. If
you are going to base your agility training on corrections, you are
going to slow your dog down. When he makes a mistake, pretend it did
not happen, and try again, giving the signals or commands more clearly.
Every desired behaviour should be rewarded using verbal praise together
with either a treat or a toy. I use the clicker with all of
my training and I encourage others in my classes to also use it.
foundation of obedience
If you really want to do well in agility, you need to lay a solid
obedience. Your dog needs to make split-second decisions
while running the course, following body cues and verbal commands.
The following is a list of the most important obedience
commands that your dog should be well trained in and what you do in dog
your basic obedience foundation is solid, and you have an energetic dog
that loves to please you and you are willing to put in the effort to
train him with positive methods, you have a winning combination.
When you run the course with your dog, he is off lead. If he sees
another dog or human he wants to go to, he needs to come back
immediately when you give the "come" command.
- The sit
- Most handlers put their dogs in a sit at the startline. Most dogs
learn this command very fast.
- The down
- Some handlers put their dogs in a down at the start and also on the
table. A very fast down on the table is very important. I've
many people loosing their first or second places just because their
dogs took several seconds to down on the table.
- The agility stay is more like the wait command. You put your dog in
either a sit or down stay, while you lead out to the second or third
obstacle. This gives you a head start. When you are ready you give the
signal or command for the dog to come. Your dog's stay needs to be very
- The heel
- For agility purposes you need to train your dog to heel on both sides.
- Most people use the word "okay" for a release word. You will use it
when calling your dog from the start line or from the table.
MS du Toit has been training dogs for ten years.
Please visit her Dog
Training Review Page.
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