Agility Training for Dogs: A Sport for ESAs and Their Owners!

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images of dog agility training equipmentAgility training for dogs is great for so many reasons! Training your dog for agility will help to expend excess energy, challenge them mentally, and strengthen the bond between you and your canine companion! Plus, you get some exercise along the way too – it’s a win-win situation for all.

Speed and Agility Training is Just the Thing for Over the Top Doggos!

What exactly is speed and agility training? Dog agility is a course made up of a series of obstacles. Your dog follows your directions through the correct order of the obstacles. These obstacles can include jumps to jump over, tunnels to run through, teeterboards, A-frames, and many more.

Pups that are super excited about life respond very well to dog agility training. Learning how to navigate the different obstacles is both fun and challenging. Most dog breeds were bred for some kind of work. As companion animals, they are often not as challenged as they were in earlier times.

Agility training is a great way to challenge their drive and work ethic. The feeling of accomplishment at the end of a task well done will do wonders for your dog’s confidence and calmness.

Why High Energy Dogs LOVE This Dog Sport!

High energy dogs won’t calm down with good exercise alone. They need to be mentally challenged too. That’s the great thing about dog agility training: it combines both physical exercise and mental stimulation.

So, after an agility training session with your pupper, they will be both mentally and physically exhausted. To excel at dog agility competitions, your pup not only has to navigate each of the obstacles with ease. They must do so within a certain time frame too.

To be able to achieve this, great focus is required from both hound and human. Channeling their energy into this task and being able to remain focused for any length of time is a great skill for any dog to learn. It is especially beneficial for dogs that tend to be “all over the place”!

terrier running through agility weaving poles during speed and agility training

Fun for You, Fun for Your ESA: Why This Sport is a Great Idea for ESA Owners!

As mentioned, there are so many benefits to taking part in agility with your dog. The benefits are for both your emotional support animal (ESA) and for you. Although ESAs don’t require specific training, it is a very good idea to have a well-trained dog.

Exercise:
The first and most obvious benefit is exercise. Dog agility training will help your dog to become fit. You too will have to work on your fitness so that you can keep up with your four-legged friend as you guide them through the agility course. Exercise = endorphins (AKA feel-good hormones)!

Socializing:
Whether it be at the training sessions or at the competitions, you will meet like-minded pet lovers. With your ESA by your side, meeting and chatting to other dog people will be a cinch.

For people with social anxiety, making friends will boost social confidence. For depression sufferers, having meaningful contact with others will improve your outlook on life. Busying yourself with dog agility training is also a great distraction from anything negative in one’s life.

Achievement:
Completing an agility course, no matter how quickly or elegantly, will give both you and your dog a wonderful sense of achievement. This can boost self-esteem and confidence.

Behavior:
It is widely known that daily exercise is good for dogs (and their owners)! Agility training combines exercising with a task and the challenge of learning new skills. This stimulates your dog’s mental faculties.

This together with the improved obedience that they will have to learn to successfully communicate with you when navigating an agility course, will make for a well-adjusted and calmer dog. Less likely to destroy furniture and dig up your dahlias!

Bonding:
Taking on a task like this, together with your ESA, will help to strengthen the bond between you and your canine companion.

Fun, Fun, Fun:
Best reason of all…. you are going to have fun! This will help to reduce stress and will increase feel-good hormones in your body!

cocker spaniel jumping over standard jump

DIY Dog School? Agility Training Exercises to Try with Your Dog!

You might be a bit unsure of how your dog will respond to agility training. Or, you can’t get to agility training classes as often as you would like. There are a few fun exercises that you can do with your dog at home.

Setting up a course is easy. You can simply use items that you already have in your home and/or garden. Run your dog over, or under, or through the obstacles that you have set up for them. After a few turns at this, you will quickly be able to gauge whether your hound is an enthusiastic participant or not.

The Components of Agility Courses for Dogs!

The basic dog agility course comprises the following obstacles:

Weave Poles: These are a series of poles spaced evenly apart that the dog has to weave between.

Standard Jumps: Agility courses always include jumps. They come in a variety of configurations. These are a slightly smaller version of the same thing that you would see in an equestrian show jumping arena. The height of the horizontal poles is adjustable. They can adjust according to the height and ability of the dog.

Tunnel: This is usually a plastic or fabric collapsible tunnel for the dogs to run/crawl through.

Pause Table: A pause table is a stable raised surface on which the dog must wait for a length of time.

A-Frame: Your dog must ascend and descend this obstacle making sure that their paw/s hit the contact zone near the bottom.

Dog Walk: Like a boardwalk, this is a raised walkway for the dog to walk along. Narrower and longer than the pause table, with an ascent and descent like the A-frame.

Balance Board or Teeter Board: A balance board is similar to a see-saw. The dog walks on at the lowest point. As it crosses the middle, the weight of the dog shifts the board to face downwards as the dog walks off the board again.

Tire Jump: This is similar to jumping through hoops. Your dog must jump through an old tire that is hanging or supported at a certain height. Once again, the size of the tire can be changed to accommodate different sizes of dogs!

Start Small: Why Not Make Your Own Agility Training Equipment

Before going out to buy specialist dog agility training equipment, have a look around your house and garden to see what you can re-purpose. A blanket and two chairs can serve as a decent tunnel. An old coffee table can serve as a pause table. You can integrate surfaces with different textures into your home-made course. Try old pieces of carpet, some aluminum foil and/or crumpled up newspaper.

Make a makeshift jump by balancing a broom between two chairs or logs of similar height. You could also roll up mats or blankets to make low jumps to jump over. To make a dog-walk, use a picnic bench. Or make one by placing a wooden plank across two cinder-blocks.

A trip to the hardware store for a couple of pieces of wood and a few PVC pipes will set you up nicely to make a few obstacles. Use a large diameter PVC pipe and a big wooden board to make a balance board. A few narrower PVC pipes stuck in the ground can make a weave poles obstacle!

There is Agility Training for Dogs of All Ages!

Whether your pooch is a senior citizen or a puppy with boundless energy, you will find a dog agility training course that is suitable for you! Dog agility training is suitable for all types and breeds of dog and for all ages. The obstacles and courses can be adjusted to suit certain physical constraints.

Bear your dog’s health and bone development in mind before taking on agility training. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to conditions such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Make sure not to ask these dogs to take on obstacles that could harm their joints.

The boneset and development of larger dogs can carry on right up until two years of age. To prevent them from joint-jarring hard landings, make sure that these dogs don’t do jumps that are too high.

On the other side of the spectrum, great care should also be taken with older dogs. Do not ask more of them than what their bodies are capable of.

It is a good idea to take your dog for a checkup with your veterinarian before commencing with dog agility training.

rough collie running out of agility tunnel

Pre-Agility Puppy Training!

Before you start with agility training, you will want to have a few obedience commands in place. You cannot start soon enough with training your new puppy or adult dog these few basic commands:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down
  • Come/Here/Recall

Not for the Doggos: Agility Training RuneScape aka Agility Training OSRS

When you are exhausted from your dog agility training and want to do a bit of couch surfing. Old School RuneScape (OSRS) is a hugely popular multiplayer online role-playing game. RuneScape requires a whole other kind of agility training! No jumps and balance boards here. This is purely for your finger fitness and hand-eye coordination.

Dog Agility Training is Mountains of Fun, Why Not Give it a Try?

The fun-factor of dog agility training with your four-legged friend is a sure thing. With all the benefits of training for this dog sport, it does seem to be a no-brainer to give it a try.

Working with your dog to succeed at something fun like dog agility can only be beneficial for you both.

Agility Training Near Me!

There are several organizations who oversee the sport of dog agility. The United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), and American Kennel Club (AKC) are all connected to clubs and groups that train, practice, and compete in dog agility at all levels.

On these websites, you should be able to find a training group or program that will suit you and your canine companion the most.

border collie taking part in agility training for dogs

Common Questions About Dog Agility Training

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