Each year dog trainers await this season to begin agility classes for pups and dogs. It is too hot to do it other than fall, winter and spring. Is it that much fun? The answer is a resounding “YES!”
Not all dogs and owners are suited to the sport, but many can participate at various levels. If you and your dog are competitively minded, I recommend training that prepares you for competition at the AKC, USDAA, or other levels.
Dogs of all sizes – from toy to giant breeds – can enjoy the sport. Competition requires that you are willing to work and play hard during the week and travel on the weekends to various events to compete. Windi Weaver in Ridgeland offers classes to train you and your dog for competition. Email her at K9agility@hargray.com for more information.
If you wish to participate in agility for fun, focus and exercise then consider less-demanding classes. This training has been developed for dogs and/or owners that might be less than agile at a high level –but those dogs still love to jump, play, run, tunnel, and adore challenges of new experiences.
At the other extreme, agility is also fabulous for dogs that need to build self-confidence and are a bit timid with new experiences. All dogs need to be dog friendly or neutral and know a Recall or Come command, Stay or Wait, Sit and Down.
Can you do it if the owner has knee issues? Yes, I do. If you can’t run much, that’s OK. The course is designed in a shortened version to keep the dogs stimulated and focused while limiting the amount of territory we humans have to cover.
Your dog, however, does have to be physically fit to do agility. Is it appropriate for puppies? Yes, but with limitations. You cannot have pups do repetitive, high impact running and jumping due to bone and joint development, but they can do low jumps, tunnels and the like.
It is a great introduction to the sport and piques their interest for later training. It is also wonderfully social at the puppy level, allowing for off leash play in a contained environment.
For dogs that need more exercise in a stimulating environment, agility offers the learning of new and challenging skills that are fun. It can be taught on or off leash, depending on owner control of the dog.
If you and your dog are tired of obedience work and need something fun to do together, consider agility at any level. If you have kids that want to develop a better relationship with their dog or are athletic themselves, agility is one of the best kid/dog participation sports there is.
Dogs of differing breeds like to play by jumping, going to ground, climbing etc. Agility allows them to do what they do naturally in a structured environment.
For information on Agility For Fun classes in Bluffton contact me for class schedule and fees.
Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com