Image Credits: Pixabay
For dogs, agility is a competitive sport. It takes the form
of an obstacle course consisting of jumps, walkways, and tunnels — the dog and
its handler work as a team. The handler helps the animal to navigate obstacles
in proper order. The team which completes the course in the fastest time and
with minimum mistakes wins.
Agility training in dogs begins early. Puppies start to
compete from one year' of age. The animal may injure itself while jumping over
hurdles. Talk to the veterinarian to understand when the dog will be ready to
attempt jumps. Start by training the dog on basic obedience and teach your
puppy to sit down, come, stay, lie down, and heel. The dog will benefit from
attending several training classes where they get to learn simple obedience and
also get used to being in the vicinity of people and other dogs.
Contact obstacles must be introduced in the first phase.
Many contact obstacles are available, from the A-frame, the dog walk, and the
teeter-trotter. Such constraints are termed contact obstacles as there are
particular areas on one side or both sides which the dog should touch with a
minimum of one paw. The dog can be taught to make this contact. To do this,
leave treats on the contact zone. The dog will get treats only if its paws
reach that point. Make sure to enforce this in every obstacle.
Jumps and tunnels
Once your dog masters the contact obstacles, it time to teach it jumps. Do not begin from too much a height. In case of the medium breed and large breed dogs, keep bar a minimum of one or two inches off the ground. If you have a smaller dog breed, begin with the bar on ground. Teach jump on the leash to ensure the animal does not skirt a hurdle. The command to jump must be specific, like "jump now." The jump must be approached quickly, and in the majority of cases, the dog will jump over hurdles. Provide plentiful praise and treats. With an increase in confidence, you can incrementally raise the jump height. In-case the dog does not want to jump over a hurdle, practice the exercise in any narrow hallway. Set small jump and place the dog on one side and you on the other. The dog should have no option but to jump. Encourage the dog with a happy voice and treats. With sufficient positive reinforcement, the dog will soon become a confident jumper. After your dog knows how to jump and clear contact obstacles, it is now time to teach tunnels. This obstacle is an easy one. Begin with shorter tunnels with the other end having treats brought by your spouse or friends.