8 Tips for Practicing Agility at Home with your Dog
Posted by RiteChoice Dog Agility
As one of the fastest-growing canine sports in the United States, dog agility is not just for the “Super Rover” you may have seen in dog shows . In fact, it is a fun activity that increases the bond between you and your pup, builds confidence, decreases your dog’s anxiety, is great exercise and it can be done in the comfort of your own home or yard (Whew—that is a lot for just one sport!)
Before you sign up your dog for classes, consider giving dog agility a whirl at home with these simple tips. Now, start stretching and get ready to enjoy a pup-tastic time together!
Make a Space: whether it is your backyard, your basement, or even your living room—all you need is a little creativity (think about when you made couch forts as a kid) and treats. When the course is set, you and Fido are ready to take on Dog Agility 101.
Fido Fun: While basic obedience lessons can sometimes be stressful, dog agility is all about fun for both you and your pet. Forget the pressure of picking up new skills quickly. There is no right or wrong or timeframe for your dog to learn agility basics. Just have lots and lots of fun and remember to give encouragement, praise, and rewards whenever your dog is successful.
Keep it Short: Dog agility training is supposed to be fun, not a job. To keep your dog’s interest peaked, we recommend that home agility training sessions last about 15 minutes a day. There is nothing fun about hours of training—for anyone!
Tricky, Tricky: Not only do tricks help improve the whole training experience, they increase your dog’s agility, self-confidence and focus. If you have not picked out a trick you are interested in yet, try something basic like teaching your dog to walk backwards or how to run (then to jump) through a hoop. Learning new tricks will help with focus, command/guiding and help build skills for tunnel training.
Be Flexible: Agility training is not just about your pup—it is about your health too. Dedicate 10 minutes before you start training for stretches and a light warm up. This will help you maintain a good range of motion and decrease your chances of injury.
Build Confidence: Moving obstacles are a part of dog agility and can be a confusing experience for the novice pup. From agility tunnels to seesaws, there is a lot to get used to when first starting out. Try items around your house to get your dog used to movement and shifting. A skateboard, wagon, a buggy behind a bicycle—anything that (safely) moves or shifts. It is important to not force them to do anything they are not ready to do. Allow them to sniff out the situation and take their time. Every time they have an interest, encourage them to put a paw up on top of the object and immediately reward them when they do it on their own. Eventually, they will build up confidence and you will need to talk them through each wobble and shift, always rewarding throughout.
- Conquer Fears of the Dark: Every now and again, a novice dog runs through an agility tunnel for the first time like it was nothing! However, many dogs fear the dark opening of an agility tunnel. Thankfully, RiteChoice Dog Agility tunnels are easy to make shorter with the heavy-duty PVC coated vinyl & spiral support. When you first start out, shorten the tunnel down to about a foot’s length. Encourage your dog to go through the short space and reward each time they complete the task. Gradually increase the length by another foot after each successful pass through. Soon enough, your dog will be running the full length of a tunnel!
Ensure your Tunnel is Secure: Tunnel bags are guaranteed to hold your dog agility tunnel securely in place on all surfaces without staking. With the tunnel bags in place, your pup can race at lightning speed without you ever having to worry about the tunnel shifting or moving.
Excited about taking on a new activity with your pup? We are too! Check out our dog agility tunnels, available in a rainbow of splashy colors that will surely make you and your pup the “top dog” of the competition!