Inspired by the Olympics: Getting Started in Agility

What can be more inspiring than the Olympics when it comes to getting yourself and your dog more active? This week, I’ve tried some Michael Phelps moves in the swimming pool. Let’s just say I won’t quit my day job and leave it at that. But Wyn continues to look great when he’s running and jumping and it makes me think about when he was competing in agility.

If dogs were in the Olympics, they would probably be in an agility event. Here are some tips for getting started in this exciting, active canine sport.

1. Start when the time is right.

If your dog is under 1 year old, it’s not quite time to start in agility. Under the age of 1 year, bones and joints aren’t ready to stand up to the jumping required in agility.  While you wait, you can start teaching your dog to walk on very low obstacles that don’t require jumping.

2. Begin with the Basics

All dogs need basic training for agility. Skills such as come, sit, down, stay, wait and ‘watch me’ are prerequisites for the competitive agility dog. An obedience class is a good first step for agility training.

3. Train with a Pro

We suggest finding a good agility class. Look for an instructor who has been successful in the sport. In agility classes, you’ll be able to get feedback from an experienced trainer who watches your performance. And, you’ll have access to all the equipment that you might not have at home.

4. Shaping, shaping, always shaping.

Remember what you know about shaping and start with baby steps when teaching agility. Teach one obstacle at a time, and start with easier versions of the obstacles such as a short tunnel that you gradually open up and lengthen.

5. Make it Fun!

Positive reinforcement and having fun are the keys to having a dog who loves agility.


Happy Training! Do you have any favorite tips for teaching agility?


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About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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