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How to get your dog started in agility

How to Get Your Dog Started in Agility Training

Getting your dog started in agility is easy.

The first thing anyone interested in dog agility should do is visit the veterinarian for a check-up.  Once your veterinarian gives your dog a clean bill of health you are on your way!

"Is there a real benefit to agility training my dog?"  Sure!  Here at All Fours Dog Training shy dogs gain confidence.  Inactive dogs improve their physical health by participating in the physical activity provided by agility training.  Older dogs keep their muscles from atrophying and keep their minds sharp, too!  Puppies learn all sorts of social skills in a safe, controlled and fun environment.  High energy dogs thirsting for an outlet for their abundance of energy will thrive in an agility class.  The biggest most valuable benefit to training a dog in agility is the bond that is created through training.  To see dogs blossom into confident, happy, socially comfortable dogs is really a priceless experience that will last a lifetime.

How to choose an agility class

"Are all agility classes the same?"  No, not really.  Finding a suitable agility training program is important.  Take the time to visit and observe any training class in which you may be interested.  Call or e-mail the instructor to be sure it is OK to observe the class and confirm class times.  Leave your dog at home so you don’t have to worry about class etiquette.  Observing classes without your dog in tow will make it easier for you to ask the current students questions about their class experience.  Are any of the students returning students or is everybody new?  If nobody is interested in registering for a second class, that should tell you something about the class.  Don’t be surprised if the instructors don’t have a lot of time to socialize.  They should be actively teaching the class.  Remember, the instructor’s focus should be on the students. 

The equipment should be in great shape and the facility should be clean.  Do the dogs look like they are having a good time?  Do they appear to be learning or just wandering around aimlessly?  How about the people?  Are they busy or bored? Realize that everybody (human & canine) will learn different skills at different rates. Some students might be on the cusp of mastering a skill that others have already whizzed through.  Agility training class shouldn’t be a contest for the opportunity to learn.  Everyone, regardless of skill level, should appear to actively participate in all of the exercises in some manner. 

Speaking of skill level, do the instructors actually participate in the sport on a regular basis or have they just hung out the shingle in the hopes of cashing in on the latest agility craze?  What have the instructors accomplished lately?  Don’t be fooled by photo-shopped photos with ribbons.  Scrutinize, scrutinize, scrutinize.   Your best bet is a trainer with years of successful experience with all sorts of dogs.  Staying current when it comes to training methods is crucial to a quality learning experience for you. You and your dog deserve more than old, stale, outdated training methods.  All training methods are not equal.  You don’t want to spend week after week spinning your wheels.  You and your dog should expect to learn new skills.  And, remember this is supposed to be fun!

For young dogs, All Fours Dog Training offers a Puppies With Pupose class that will give your puppy a "jump" on agility training and prepare you both for your future agility training adventures.

After you’ve found the class you’ll be attending, register pronto!  Some classes fill more quickly than others.  You’re more likely to get your first choice of All Fours Dog Training classes if you are the early bird when it comes to registration.  Plan to arrive early, so you and your dog can settle in before the learning begins.

What should you do before you attend your first agility training class?

Before you head out the door for your first All Fours Dog Training Agility Training Class you should put together a training bag for you and your dog.  You’ll want to stock it with all of the necessities for your training adventure. 

Here’s a handy checklist:

  •   Toys…make sure you bring a few that you dog already enjoys playing with (with you) at home.
  •   Treats…small, soft, super-special treats work best. Bring a trail mix of tiny bits of cheese, hot dogs, cubed chicken or commercially sold training treats. Bring twice as many as you think you’ll need!
  •   A bowl for water…Some facilities don’t have restrooms or a hose for water so, you might need to bring a bottle of water, too. 
  •   A treat pouch…something you can attach to your waistband that enables you easy, quick access to the treats you’ve brought to class.
  •   A clicker…although clickers aren’t used to teach every skill, they are helpful when training certain behaviors.  Always keep a couple in your All Fours Dog Training training bag.
  •   Clean up bags…although most facilities provide clean up materials, it’s always a good idea to bring extras for yourself just in case!
  •   A towel…it’s important for your dog’s paws to be dry before getting on the agility equipment.  You can use the towel to dry your pup’s paws when arriving at class on rainy or snowy days.
  •   A notebook or binder & pen…You might find the amount of information overwhelming at first.  You should write things down that are discussed in class.  You can review the information later and get the most out of your All Fours Dog Training Agility Class.
  •   A video camera and a tripod…ok, this might be a bit much, especially when you first start out.  You don’t want to videotape everything so, perhaps just taping the last class of each session would be a good idea.  You should see a difference in your dog’s skill level between each session.  It’s a great learning tool, plus, it can be really fun to watch your dog on video when you get home!   If you’d rather take still photos of your dog, make sure you turn off the flash.  You don’t want to frighten some of the more timid dogs in class.
  •   A hungry dog!  Don’t feed your dog before class.  Your dog will get plenty of treats during your lesson.   You can always feed dinner after class.
  •   A sense of humor!  Be ready to shed your troubles and daily life stressors at the door. 

Agility Class

 

Grab your training bag and your hungry dog

and

get ready for an All Fours Dog Training good time!

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