Is Your Dog Ready For Agility Class?
April 29, 2012 in Dog Training
He’s three years old, energetic, out of control, and eating everything. You’ve been to obedience class, you’ve taken him for walks, you’ve even started hitting up Craig’s List for a doggie treadmill. You flip on TV, and you see a dog and handler moving at top speed around an exciting looking course.
That’s it! Agility. What better way to tire out your dog and have fun at the same time? You call around until you find a trainer that does agility, eager to sign up for a course. A friendly trainer tells you a new class begins soon, and to book an appointment for an evaluation.
Agility is fun, and is a great outlet for high energy dogs, but you can’t begin a class without a small amount of preparation. Is your dog ready to meet the teeter? Your agility instructor should be able to tell you at an evaluation, but here’s a little prep work you can do to put yourself ahead:
At some point during your class, you are going to have to unsnap your dog’s leash in the presence of other (leashed) dogs, and ask him to focus on you. Will he go with you, or dash madly around sniffing dog butts? If you’re not sure, work on recall at home, and at the park or other dog-safe area. (If you’re afraid he’ll run away, use a 30 foot dog lead.)
If your dog is aggressive toward other dogs or people, taking him to an agility class is probably a bad idea. If he’s shy or young, you can help by socializing him before taking him to class. That evaluation doubles as a great opportunity to let your dog meet the trainer and location before lessons begin.
Will your dog let you hold his collar? Does he like it? This may sound stupid, but being able to lead your dog by the collar (without him thinking he’s in trouble!) Is a very important skill in the beginning stages of agility. Small dogs obviously are not used to having their collars held, and most big dogs only have their collars grabbed when the fun stops.
Practice taking hold of your dogs collar and then immediately rewarding with a treat. This isn’t necessary to begin class, but it really does help.
Again while not absolutely necessary, having a sit or down is really helpful, especially if your dog can hold sit/down off leash with you at least five feet away. This skill gives you enough freedom to walk around a jump and call your dog over it, makes introducing the pause table easier, and gives you something to practice while waiting your turn for the weave poles.
Have you mastered these arts? Think there should be something else added to this list? Share your stories in the comments section.