DIY Dog Agility Training: Unleashing the Champ in Your Dog
The days are getting shorter and outdoor temperatures are finally inching closer to being reasonable and even comfortable. The change in seasons (although subtle here in Schertz) is a welcome respite for many pet owners who are constantly preoccupied with heat stroke and dehydration risks during the hotter months.
With some of the seasonal health risks suspended, we recommend creating an agility course for you and your dog to enjoy. Not only does it provide an opportunity to increase activity levels (for you, the handler, and your dog) but it reinforces the bond and love between you.
The History of Agility Training
While not the oldest form of canine training, agility is one of the fastest growing dog sports in the United States. Agility competitions began in the United Kingdom in 1978 with popularity across the Atlantic growing over the following two decades. Currently, there are more than 2,000 AKC competitions across the U.S. since trials officially began in 1994.
Dogs of any breed or size can benefit from agility training – the exercise plus the mental stimulation is a classic recipe for health. Your dog will be confronted with numerous obstacles that will foster focus, conditioning, training, and teamwork. Over time, the power of achievement will be a rich reward.
How to Begin Agility Training
Before embarking on the agility journey with your pup, check with us so we can determine if your dog is physically capable of this type of exercise. To avoid long-term injury to developing joints, dogs should be at least a year old. Start with lots of encouragement, praise, rewards, and patience. You can graduate to more complicated components once he or she understands your expectations and has a heightened sense of confidence.
You may be surprised to learn that you neither need a huge outdoor space nor a lot of money to get started with agility training. However, you should know that kennel clubs have regulations regarding obstacles if you eventually want to compete. Check them out for your backyard course and use good judgement when discerning your dog’s abilities. An agility course will always have the following obstacles:
You’ll find that the offerings on agility equipment websites can be expensive, so put on your DIY hat to find bargains and recycled materials to create your course. Visit thrift stores, garages sales, flea markets, home supply, craigslist, ebay, and plumbing stores for some of the equipment needed. Using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping to make the jumps and tables is a great money-saver and you can easily outfit your course for under $200.
Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork
According to thousands of dog owners, agility is the perfect opportunity to have fun with the family pup while cultivating speed, accuracy, and teamwork. Your dog doesn’t necessarily have to be trained prior to agility but knowing certain commands like “heel” or “sit” will help enormously. Start out slowly and use caution to prevent accidental strain or injury to your dog. For example, jumps should start out low and increase in height as your dog gets stronger.
Make sure you offer loads of encouraging words and pats, treats or toys, and fresh water at all times. Keep your agility sessions on the shorter side and always end on a happy, positive note.
Share This Article
Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!