Agility is one of the fastest growing dog sports - you may have seen it featured on television. Needless to say, nothing is ever as easy as the pro’s make it look, but agility training is a great way for you and your dog to work together as a team. It may be one of the only times each week that you and your dog get to spend one-on-one with each other. Yes, it is fun to learn the obstacles but the desire to want to work and learn with your dog is the key.
Our classes are small and each team works at their individual pace. All training is positive with the use of many rewards such as food and toys, no choke chains or corrections. The aim of the class is for you and your dog to have fun together, this is not “puppy playtime” between dogs.
1) Do I need to have done obedience before doing agility?
2) Will my dog be off-leash?
3) What makes me the most interesting thing to my dog?
4) How old does my dog need to be to start agility?
5) Is agility class about playing with other dogs?
6) Do I have to want to compete in agility to participate in classes?
7) Is agility easy?
8) Do I need to practice at home?
9) My dog is very nervous, is agility suitable for her?
10) My dog does not like other dogs, can he do agility?
11) My dog does not like strangers touching it or coming near them, can he do agility?
12) How fast will my dog progress?
Do I need to have done obedience before doing agility?
Although you do not need to have attended a formal class you do need some basic skills. Your dog should understand commands for sit, down, stay and come. He need not be 100% reliable but this is a good place to start.
Will my dog be off-leash?
YES. Only one dog is off-leash in class at a time. It is important that your dog has a good “come” command as he may be distracted and want to run over to other dogs. YOU must be more interesting to your dog than all the other dogs in class.
What makes me the most interesting thing to my dog?
Now is the time to find out. Keep a really favorite food just for training e.g. cheese, hot dogs, bologna. Try a favorite toy to tug with. Make really exciting noises. Practice, practice, practice.
How old does my dog need to be to start agility?
Dogs can start agility at any age but the class must be tailored to the age of the dog. Young puppies can learn many important skills for agility without being introduced to any of the obstacles. Your dog needs to be physically developed to jump & weave and mentally developed to understand the obedience skills already discussed – this age will be different for every dog. Older dogs need to be physically healthy. Yes, an old dog can learn new tricks.
Is agility class about playing with other dogs?
NO. Agility class is for you and your dog to play and learn together. Your dog should feel that YOU are much more exciting than any other dog in the room. This is not a puppy play session.
Do I have to want to compete in agility to participate in classes?
NO. Most students start agility classes just to have fun with their dogs. Some get bitten by the bug and go on to compete.
Is agility easy?
NO but learning can be fun. It is not just a question of telling your dog to jump, do you know how to communicate with your dog? Performing each obstacle is not the most difficult thing to learn but how to communicate with your partner is much tougher. Your instructor will teach you how to be a team. Yes, it is difficult at times that is why we use lots of food rewards to help your dog. Yes, it can get frustrating and that is when it is time to stop and go and play with your dog.
Do I need to practice at home?
The more you can practice what your learn in class, the faster you will improve. Many skills do not require equipment, especially improving your obedience commands. Some things can also be taught using items that you have around the house, your instructor will tell you about this.
My dog is very nervous, is agility suitable for her?
Agility can be a great way to socialize a dog. It introduces them to a new environment, new dogs and people, different noises and objects. It is very important to only progress at the speed of your dog, this dog will take longer to get it’s confidence. You may even want to repeat the initial beginner class to overcome your dogs fears.
My dog does not like other dogs, can he do agility?
A class situation is not appropriate. You should seek the services of a qualified behavior specialist to evaluate your dog. Your dog may be able to do private lessons.
My dog does not like strangers touching it or coming near them, can he do agility?
In training, the instructor will need to hold your dog to help it learn so it must be friendly to strangers. You should seek the services of a qualified behavior specialist to evaluate your dog.
How fast will my dog progress?
That depends on many things and will vary from team to team. The speed of your progress does not matter. What is important is learning the fundamental skills at the beginning properly. Once you have trained your dog to make “mistakes”, it is very hard to go back and “fix” them. Remember, your instructor probably made those same “mistakes” with the very first dog they trained so learn from their mistakes!