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Is Agility Training Right for Your Dog?

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

Yellow lab jumping over an obstacle in a course. Is Agility Training Right for Your Dog

Imagine graceful athletes of all sizes conquering tunnels, jumping through hanging hoops, and climbing high walls; determination in their eyes and fire in their hearts. Now, imagine that those competitors have four legs… In the competitive world of canine agility training, dogs and their owners train regularly on obstacle courses in hopes of winning it all.

Competitive agility isn’t the only option, though. Many pups and their masters do agility training just for fun. It’s a great alternative to a daily walk or game of fetch for keeping your dog active and healthy. Also, it provides plenty of mental stimulation.

Do you think your pooch might be ready to pursue a hobby (or even a competitive career) in agility training? If so, keep reading.

Is Agility Training Right for Your Dog?

Agility Training Benefits

Agility training can be tailored to fit nearly any dog, regardless of ability, size, age, or breed. In fact, most competitions even allow mutts to compete. Senior dogs may be less inclined to participate in competitive agility, but when the training is tailored to their specific needs, many older dogs enjoy the challenge.

Most people get their dogs started in agility because it looks like fun (and it most certainly is!), but there are some other benefits that come with it:

  • Increased bonding and communication
    • Agility training is training for your dog and you. This isn’t something your dog does, it’s something he does with his favorite person. He will rely on you to communicate the course to him and to help guide him through. Not only that, but your dog will associate this fun activity that they’re participating in with you- because you’re doing it too! Many owners report feeling a stronger bond with their dog as a result of agility training.
  • Improve off-leash behavior
    • When your dog runs an agility course, they will do so off-leash. This means that during training, you and your pup will really dive into communication skills, with the overall goal of total confidence when she is off of the leash.
  • Potential behavior issue solution
    • Many behavior problems stem from boredom and lack of stimulation. Agility training provides your dog with plenty of exercise- both mentally and physically. Studies have shown that adequate mental and physical exercise can have a really positive impact on certain behaviors related to stress, anxiety, and boredom. The physical and mental component of agility training, when coupled with the quality time your dog will be spending with you, is often the recipe for a content, well-behaved canine.

How to Get Started

Many people choose to get started with agility classes lead by a trainer. These classes are typically group classes that meet regularly and train together. Keep in mind, if you plan to train with a group, your pup will probably need to have completed at least a basic obedience class. Depending upon your location, private training may be available too. Often, private training affords dogs and owners a bit more flexibility in scheduling and some serious one-on-one attention, but it can come with a hefty price tag.

Agility Training at Home

Home agility training is always an option if you’re not interested in training with a group. You can purchase course materials to set up in your yard (or in your home, if you have enough space) and begin working on your own with your dog. If you do plan to take your dog’s agility to a competitive level, you’ll want to make sure you’re researching proper training methods, course standards, and expectations.

One Final Word on Agility Training

Only you can decide for sure if agility training is something you and your pup would like to pursue together. Agility training can provide you and your dog with a shared hobby and something to bond over, but it can also be time-consuming and, at times, physically demanding. It can be a highly physical sport, and your dog may benefit from a joint support supplement. While agility training can be tailored to each individual dog’s needs based on age, fitness, size, etc., the competitions have set standards that each dog will be expected to meet. Talk with your vet before beginning any new exercise regimen with your dog.

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