Does your dog sit around and sleep all day? Just like for people a sedentary lifestyle isn’t natural or healthy for dogs? Dogs, like their wild cousins, love a good nap but really enjoy hunting and playing. Obviously, you can’t occupy your pooch 24/7 so what time we do devote to them needs to be quality. Snuggling and watching a movie is a great activity but it can’t be the only one. Enter agility! Agility dog training offers so many benefits to both you and your furry friend, even if you don’t plan on competing. There are so many physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that agility helps with.
As a kid my dog was the quintessential couch potato just like me. We’d watch TV together and we’d go outside and play fetch, but beyond that I didn’t know what else to do with him. Discovering agility really turned our normal routine on it’s head. I would make makeshift jumps and other obstacles and we would just have a blast “pretending” to compete. What is even more fun is watching my daughter do the same with our goldens now. Instead of being glued to one of the many electronics she engrosses herself entirely in the building and training. She’s not the only one! Our female golden, Khaleesi, is just as enthralled!
What is Agility Training
Dog Agility is a sport where the dog is guided by their owner or handler through a pre-set obstacle course full of fun and exciting challenges. The obstacles can include a variety of different jumps, tunnels, walks, and many more.
Only for “Show” Dogs
NOT TRUE! Many people are under the false assumption that in order to participate in agility you have to have a pure bred show dog, but any dog can participate at any level. If you just take some classes and run obstacles or want to eventually compete. You don’t even have to have a purebred! If you do want to show that’s great, but even if you have no interest at all that’s fine too! Your dog does have to be registered with the AKC either through their Purebred, Alternative Listing, or Canine Partners program
Benefits of Agility Training
I think one of the most important and rewarding benefit of agility training is the deep bond it creates between you and your dog. To run the course effectively the dog relies on cues, verbal and physical, given by you. Add that to the amount of time you spend practicing the human animal bond becomes very strong.
Emotional and Behavioral Benefits of Agility Training
Not only does a dog need to have trust and confidence in their person it is just as important for him to have trust and confidence in himself. As obstacles are completed and rewards are earned his self-confidence grows.High-energy and nervous dogs can also benefit from agility training as well. Nervous behaviors can diminish or vanish, and excessive energy is completely worked out. It’s amazing how quickly dogs can transform.
Running the agility obstacles mimics the dogs natural hunt and chase instincts and requires your dog to stay sharp and on his toes. The constant flow of new information coupled with the limited time to process it sharpens the mind and increase focus. Your dog will become more alert and able to make decisions quicker.
It’s kind of a given, if your pooch is a chunky monkey the added physical activity will benefit them immensely. The other physical benefits aren’t as obvious but are just as important. Agility training will help improve your pup’s balance and coordination, flexibility, speed, accuracy, stamina, and endurance. Keeping Fido physically fit with activities like agility will keep him happy and healthy for years to come.
The base of agility is in obedience, so agility helps to reinforce those concepts. Beyond that, however, it really helps dogs learn to focus on the task at hand and keeps his brain moving forward. Some dogs have an abundance of energy and when left unused that energy can take a destructive or neurotic outlet. But a tired dog is a happy dog; excited, nervous, pent-up energy is burned off running through agility obstacles creating a more relaxed and manageable dog. Agility is also, as mentioned above, excellent at building confidence! Timid dogs are timid because they lack confidence but with the constant reassurance, rewards, and task completion that agility offers it can help any dog reach their full potential.
When to Start Agility Training
Agility is a very physically demanding sport that puts a lot of strain on your dog’s joints. To protect the joints from permanent damage puppies should not begin pre-agility training until 4-months-old. Dogs are not able to compete in American Kennel Club agility events until they are 9-months-old. However, it’s never too late to start your dog in agility training! The old adage of, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is completely false!
There so many benefits to starting agility training with your dog! You will be amazed at the changes even in the best-behaved pup. Finding a good trainer will set you up for a lifetime of fun and fond memories.