Dogs should be at least one, and sometimes older -- especially for larger dogs -- before they start training on full-sized equipment. Why? Because young pups' growth plates haven't closed yet and they can be more susceptible to injury.
Up until now, Rocco's been jumping with the bar set around 4-6 inches off the ground. Now that he's a year old (almost!) he'll start training by jumping at the 8-inch height that he'll jump in competition. The height a dog will jump in agility is determined by their height at the withers (shoulder), and any dog that measures under 11 inches (like Rocco) jumps 8 inches in AKC agility. (Heights vary with other agility organizations).
We're training with the intent of competing someday. But anyone with the desire and a healthy dog can learn the game of agility and have fun with it, whether they aspire to compete or not.
|Agility competitors walk a Jumpers With Weaves course|
to plan their strategy before competing at a local trial
How to get started
Getting started is as easy as taking an agility training class in your area, but the first thing to remember is to be patient! The competitors you may see at agility trials or on TV have been training for years. They didn't learn these moves overnight!
It takes time and patience, so remember to keep things positive and have fun with your pup. Even the smallest victory -- like holding a stay in front of a jump -- is worth celebrating.
Here are a few tips and resources to help you get on your way.
- Check out an agility trial in your area to learn more about the sport, and you’ll have the chance to chat with local competitors too. Between runs, agility competitors are typically happy to share information with you about how they got started and where they train.
- To find an agility event in your area, look on the sites of some organizations that host agility events such as the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) and the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC).
- Locate a training club or facility in your area and take a class. The AKC and USDAA offer some listings on their sites. Instructors at many dog training facilities may also be able to provide recommendations too.
- Whether you have aspirations to compete or just want to have some fun and exercise with your dog, taking a class from an experienced instructor will help you learn to run competently and safely.
- Learn basic obedience such as sit, down, stay and come. In your first few agility classes, you may spend time brushing up on basic obedience before getting on any equipment. Remember to be patient. Spending extra time on the basics is well worth the effort!
|Rocco says, "Wheeeeee!"|