Have you ever been to an agility contest for dogs? Dogs of multiple breeds, sizes and shapes will be running up A-frames, jumping over hurdles, scampering across raised walkways and diving through tunnels. Fur and excitement will be flying all around, and the noise decibels will rise to levels that you’re never likely to have experienced before. The desire to win gets so thick in the air that you will be able to feel it on your skin. Amidst all this, the owners have to maintain eye contact with their dogs and give directions through hand signals and one-word prompts to make them stay on course.
Still interested in taking part in an agility contest with your pet dog?
The pros will tell you that the road ahead will be filled with training and hard work (for both you and your dog.) But the time and effort you spend will be rewarding by way of a canine-human bond rarely achieved in any other manner.
So before you and your dog hit training, here are a few tips to get you started.
Agility is a fast-paced sport that involves lots of running and jumping around so ensure that your wannabe athlete is structurally sound (both in body and temperament) to participate in a sport that can take a toll on the body.
Experienced behaviorists and breeders of agility contestants emphasize the importance of examining your pet for any structural deficiencies that can be harmed by the rigors of the sport.
It’s equally important to understand the temperament of your pet. Whether your pet likes to run, or if he gets along with other dogs or if she can set her own path rather than wait for your guidance etc. If you’re not fully sure of answering these questions, it’s recommended to join a beginner agility class or practice group to give it a go. You and your pet will soon get to know what’s in store.
And with regards to yourself, are you setting out to be more active or just looking for a fun activity or a unique bonding experience with your dog? Similar to your pet, you also need to be aware and honest about your likes, dislikes and abilities and also of any physical limitations. Agility can be a high-paced sport for dogs as well as handlers. If this is not something you want to do, seek out a group or teacher who will be able to instruct you in the art of distance control. This means your pet does all the hard work while you basically stay put being the navigator.
You can start your preparation for agility training as soon as your pet starts out to explore his or her world. Tender bones and muscles will still be in their formative stage, so don’t let your pup attempt high jumps or climb on top of standard equipment.
It’s better to have your budding athlete get used to walking on different surfaces – wooden or polished floors, rugs, sidewalks and the grass. As the puppy grows to become a little older and stronger, have him jump over objects lying on the ground. Standard agility frames can be positioned at shallow angles to make it safer for young pups.
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