Running an obstacle course, or as it's better known--an agility course, has become an extremely competitive sport among dog lovers. However, it was not initially intended to be a sport, it was nothing more than an agility display at the 1978 Crufts Annual Dog Show. Today, agility competitions are held around the world. Whether you think you might want to train your pup to compete or simply just for fun, running an obstacle course is fun, exciting, and good for both you and your pup's health.
In competition, dogs are expected to navigate between 18 and 20 obstacles with the one who does so the fastest declared the winner. The dogs and their human friend get to have a map of the course ahead of time and given time to walk the course to familiarize them with the course. But even if you are doing this only for fun, let your dog go all out each time, it's good for both of you.
Throughout training your pup to run an obstacle course, you will need to teach him simple commands such as 'up', 'through', 'weave', and 'round'. Take your pick, but be sure to use a single command for each activity. Mixing up the commands or using different ones each time will only confuse your pup and make the training go that much harder.
Before you can start this type of training, you should talk to your vet and make sure pup has physically matured enough for his body to handle jumps as well as the twists and turns. Typically, this type of training doesn't start until a dog is out of his teen doggy years and is a young adult. During the obstacle course, your pup will be jumping over some obstacles, climbing up and over others, and running between slalom poles, all of which could lead to serious injury.
Before getting started, there are a couple of things you should know. First and foremost, you need to keep your pup's safety in mind at all times. While it might be tempting to make your own obstacles, and there is nothing wrong with doing so, be sure that anything you build is strong enough to support your dog's weight when he is running at full tilt.
You also need plenty of space to set up the obstacle course. Be sure to scale the size of your obstacle course to the size of your yard, for safety's sake. Hurdles should have a bar that can easily be knocked off to avoid injury to your dog's legs. Do your homework and buy good quality equipment. Not only will this reduce the risk of injury, it will make the training go far more quickly. Below, we are going to look at three different types of training for three obstacles you are likely to find in most competition agility courses.