Why is Agility great for your dog?
Agility is possibly one of the most popular and well-known dog sports out there – but what exactly is it, and why do so many dogs and their humans enjoy it?
What is agility?
Agility is an obstacle race incorporating jumps, tunnels, seesaws and other equipment which our dogs must navigate as quickly as possible. It is a team sport, with a pre-set course which the human must direct their dog around. While the goal is to get around the course quickly, dogs also need to complete each obstacle correctly – you may have noticed that agility equipment such as the seesaw is often painted in two different colours; this isn’t just for aesthetics. The different colour at each end of the see saw and other climbing obstacles like the “A-frame” or “dog walk” are called “contacts,” and the dog has to touch these as they enter and leave the obstacle – this is important to ensure the dogs are navigating each one in a controlled manner and not throwing themselves up and down them dangerously, risking injury. Dogs can receive “faults” for completely and obstacle incorrectly and may be eliminated for things like taking the wrong course.
What are the benefits of agility?
Agility is a great way to progress your training with your dog. It requires dogs to be engaged and able to listen and respond to cues from their handler, even when excited and running flat out. Agility dogs must also be able to follow very specific directional cues from their human, from a distance.
For both you and your dog! Agility requires our dogs to learn how to navigate a range of different obstacles, some of which can initially be very alien to our pups. Learning to confidently tackle these different surfaces and objects is a great way to develop your dog’s confidence. And for us humans, learning to work with our dogs at speed and from a distance is a great way to develop our confidence in our ability to work with our dogs and our trust in their capabilities.
Agility not only works on our dogs’ cardiovascular fitness through the running they do, but their balance and body awareness. Learning to pick up their feet to avoid knocking poles, balance themselves as the seesaw tips, maintain and control their speed to make sure they hit the contacts and even simply navigating the quick, tight turns needed to run a speedy course.
Enrichment (aka Fun!)
We strongly recommend finding fun extra-curricular activities to do with your dog. In this day and age, we humans have an endless stream of things to keep us entertained – from TV to video games to outdoor and indoor sports. Many of us pick up new things to study and train in after leaving school, simply because we love to learn. Our dogs are also intelligent creatures who love to learn, so finding something fun to do with them is a great way to provide physical and mental enrichment to their lives.
Spending time with our dogs learning new skills together is a wonderful way to improve and develop our relationship with them. As you progress with your agility training, you will start to feel like a cohesive team – working together as partners. This is a wonderful feeling both for us, and for our dogs.
Being part of an agility group is great fun – you will meet other like-minded dog owners who also know how wonderful it is to spend time with their dogs. As you all learn together, you will be able to celebrate each other’s successes and laugh when you or your dog make a mistake! Dog sports are incredibly social activities and there’s nothing like dogs to bring people together!
You can book or join our agility waiting lists here