As a company that sells beginner agility sets, it would be fitting for us to give you some tips and tricks for both starting and introducing your dog to agility. If your dog is anything like mine, proper introductions make learning new things much easier for them and for me!
What is agility training?
Do you remember watching dog obstacle courses on television where a dog and its owner would run through a set of obstacles racing against others for the fastest time? There would be a series of tasks including jumping through a hoop, running through a tunnel, and weaving through poles. The dog who was able to run the course the fastest would win. Groups would typically be spilt by size including small, medium, large, etc. Either way, agility is a form of training that exercises your dog’s physical and mental stamina. It is a great way to bond and will tire both of you out!
Our backyard agility course is a starter course in which you don’t have to spend a lot of money and it is easily portable. Included in this set is a set of 6 weave poles, a circular hoop jump, along with a singular bar jump. Once you and your pet master those three obstacles, we have a cone agility set you can add, a chute tunnel, a long 17’ tunnel, and a pause box.
What are the Benefits of Agility Training?
- Physical exercise for your dog (and you as well!)
- Mental stimulation and growth for your dog
- Strengthens the bond between dog and owner
- Increases communication skills between dog and owner
- Helps build your dog’s confidence
- Helps with distraction training and increases focus
- Tires your dog out
There are many techniques to teaching your pet to run an agility course. There are also many opinions on when you should start training your dog. If you have any concerns, asking your vet will do no harm. Whenever you’ve decided they’re ready (have other basic commands down such as sit, stay, lay down, come, etc.), do your research to find out what technique would work best for your dog. You know them unlike anyone else so doing some research will help the both of you in the long run. Also, if you try one method and it doesn’t seem to work for either you or your dog, know that there are other techniques to help your dog learn!
Starting training with a tunnel is beneficial because it can be very clear for the dog to understand what they need to do. You can guide them through the tunnel by peering through the opposite side, repeating their name, and then praising them once they have completed the activity.
The lure method works best with the Midlee Designs backyard set because the poles come attached together. If you have poles that tear apart or sit on their own, there are many other methods to teaching your dog how to weave. Using the lure method, take a treat and guide your dog through the weave poles one by one while repeating “weave.” Starting off, you can reward them after going through each pole and gradually shorten that to once a turn through all the weave poles. With repetition, your pet will put together the act of weaving through the poles in exchange for a treat. Done successfully, you should be able to command “weave” and your dog will go through each of the 6-12 poles in the course.
Start with your bar jump as low as possible. Stand on the opposite side of your dog and lure them to cross the jump to get the treat. Trying to minimize the space on each side of the object can deter your pet from simply walking around the jump to grab the treat. Once your pet has gotten the hang of jumping over it a few times, add the command “jump.” With time and practice, you will be able to gradually raise the bar so your pet can jump higher!
With practice and repetition, any dog can learn agility and have fun doing so. For dogs that are very food motivated, training may come faster than others. Remember to be patient and understand that your pet is trying to please you as best it can. Taking things slowly at first will show a greater return in the long run. If you try out any of these methods, comment below and let us know how they worked! Happy Training!