Here are 10 great tips on how you and your dog can get started with agility:
1. Does your dog know basic dog training? Is your dog obeying you consistently when you give commands such as “sit,” “down” and “stay”? If not, then a basic obedience course is a good idea. This gives you the foundation to build upon,.
2. Is your dog socialized and friendly? It is better if your dog is well socialized, but if not make sure to let the agility trainer know beforehand. With some basic obedience and then beginning agility work, your dog will quickly become adapted to a new environment with new sounds, smells and other dogs.
3. Make sure you have enough time in your calendar. You need to have time to attend classes each week, especially in the beginning while you and your dog learn all the basic equipment and handling techniques. Many agility clubs also offer club “fun” times for extra practice. You can also do 5 or 10 minutes at home each day. You and your dog will improve faster with consistent practice.
4. Use positive rewards to motivate your dog. Motivate and retain your dog’s concentration with treats, toys and praise. Agility should always be fun, for both you and your dog. Even if you begin to compete, fun is still the main objective.
5. Find an agility trainer. Most areas will have a local agility club with trainers and classes that are attached to the club. Many clubs will also bring in outside trainers from time to time for added training.
6. Go out and observe an agility training session. Different agility coaches have different techniques. Observe how individual agility trainers teach and decide on whether their techniques are right for you and your dog. Some clubs will enable you to come along to see what they do and to have a “practice” session for you and your dog.
7. Go to a local agility event. You can always look online to see when an event is in your area. Go and attend an event for a few hours to watch and to talk to participants. You can then decide if you would like to learn enough to become involved with events.
8. Ensure access to equipment. Your dog needs to train the various jumps, tunnels and other obstacles. Your club should have the equipment needed so that you and your dog can learn. Some of it is simple to build and you can even make some for yourself.
9. Do a little bit of research. Both the Internet and books are a good resource when you are expanding your understanding of training methods and the interaction between you and your dog. Agility is a healthy and positive way for you to learn more about your dog’s psychology and personality.
10. Be prepared to have fun. A positive attitude is everything in agility! If it isn’t fun for you and your dog, then try something different.