For some dog owners, the exercise and fun doesn’t stop at just the daily walks and the occasional game of fetch in the backyard. Dog sports are becoming increasingly popular with dog owners of all sorts, bringing new enthusiasts into the world of sports such as flyball, frisbee, dock diving, and the ever exciting sport of agility.
Agility involves a combination of handler and dog navigating a set of obstacles in the shortest time possible, including jumps, tunnels, weaving poles, and other such hurdles that need to be overcome as fast as possible. While the official competitions are mostly relegated to adult dogs, most owners who opt to go into agility start training as soon as possible, beginning with the foundations of the sport while their dog is still within the stages of puppyhood.
One thing to keep in mind is that agility can be strenuous on a dog’s joints and muscles. Pushing a puppy to perform stunts and tricks that their body is not physically prepared to perform can result in disastrous consequences. As such, most trainers will not begin training until about four months, continuing to train up until a puppy is at least 14 to 16 months of age where they can begin official competition. This offers the opportunity for the pup to develop appropriately while learning the fundamentals of the training.
If considering introducing your puppy to agility, a full veterinarian check is required. Once cleared, you’ll be working on building confidence and bonding with your puppy, focusing on a simple development of training essentials, rather than aiming for perfection or speed. Rushing may be detrimental, so take your time and enjoy your work just as much as you would with play.
Following your necessary veterinarian evaluation, you’ll want to gather up some agility specific equipment or create safe equipment yourself, if you have the ability to do so. Some ideal obstacles would consist of tunnels, weave poles, and small, adjustable hurdles. Try to steer away from the seesaw or anything that might be too tall or dangerous for your puppy at these stages. These should be utilized later on in your training after puppyhood.
In addition to that, bring plenty of treats and toys for positive rewards and a clicker, if you’d like to introduce it to your puppy for this training.