Friday, September 13, 2013

How to Get Started in Dog Agility

Now that Rocco's almost one (wow,  how fast they grow up!) his agility training is stepping up and he's getting ready to start training on full-sized equipment.



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!
Most importantly, have fun! Agility is a super way to form a special bond with your dog.  Enjoy the time you spend training with your dog and you’ll both have fun playing agility for years to come!

Rocco says, "Wheeeeee!"


The fun and games continue every Friday with FitDog Friday, the weekly Blog Hop brought to you by To Dog With LoveSlimDoggy and Peggy's Pet Place to promote a healthy active lifestyle for pets (and their people, too!) and to help combat pet obesity. Join in every Friday by linking up your FitDog story or visiting the blogs in the Hop.

25 comments:

  1. Wow Rocco you are intense. I've always wanted to try agility. All I do are zoomies around the house. Any tips on getting started?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zoomies are great! Best way to get started is to find an intro class in your area. We started taking pre-agility classes (like pre-kindergarden for agility pups) when Rocco was six months old. Cosmo started much later so it's never too late to start as long as your dog is healthy and agile.

      You might find a local training club at the AKC and USDAA links above. Or places that offer dog training of any kind sometimes have agility classes or can recommend a place.

      Let us know if you take a class! It's tons of fun!
      Diane and Rocco

      Delete
  2. We've taken a pre-agility class which Mr. N enjoyed. I'm planning to take some more classes at some point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great! This time we started with pre-agility too. Rocco's been doing foundation work since he was six months old. He'll be one on Monday and he's ready to rock and roll!
      Diane and Rocco

      Delete
  3. Wow it seems like Rocco's year has gone quickly!! ;-) Agility is one of the funnest sports that your pup can get into! About a year ago, we started to take agility classes, largely because of Cosmo and your posts! It's fast pace, makes you and your pawrent think, highly active, and tests you on even the most basic of commands...I'm pretty sure it can't get better! Perhaps one day we'll try out competing, but until then, we're happy just practicing!! :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sure is good to help with memory skills too, isn't it! When I started I couldn't find my way around an agility course or remember where I was going! I also teach a class where most folks are only interested in having fun in class and not competing. So glad you're having fun with it and that we had the chance to inspire you to start in some way! That's so cool!
      Diane and Rocco

      Delete
  4. You make it look so easy & I love the way your fur moves on Rocco as he does the jumps. Looks like someone's having fun :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're both having a blast with agility! Agility DOES look easy... when you watch folks who have been doing it for a while. That's why folks have to be patient while learning. Some things may come really quickly and some take a lot of time. Rocco learned to jump pretty quickly but he's still learning to take jumps in front of him and not keep his eyes glued on me!

      Delete
  5. Go Rocco...great tips - thanks for sharing. We've never done agility with our guys and I'm not sure jack would do well, he's so big and lunky. It looks like tons of fun though and that first picture of Rocco going over the jump...priceless.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We love dog agility! The dogs and handlers make it look so easy, but there is much training that goes into it. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh I just knew you and Rocco were going to tell us about agility today! My Ma really appreciated talking to you about it at BarkWorld...she is looking for a beginner class for me so we can just have fun together. Go Rocco!!!
    Have a great weekend!
    Oz

    ReplyDelete
  8. The most important 'word" in agility is FUN! You will be PAWsome as I seen you in action. Can't wait to see you again and we can go to the Zoom Zoom Room for an indoor agility. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post! I have been thinking about starting agility with Luna! Did you and Rocco do any obedience training before starting agility? Luna knows her basics (but does not always listen) so I'm not sure if she is ready, but I know she would love it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Around here, agility and obedience rally are a pretty big thing. We just don't see any that are Vlad's size participating in agility. Thinking maybe agility for Barkly and rally for Vlad.

    Thank you for reminding everyone that there's a minimum age to start them. Joint issues wouldn't be any fun at all. Thank you also for the list of agility groups. We didn't realize there were so many!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mom wants to do something with my new baby sister. Her ideas are nose work, agility or search and rescue. She is going to get in touch with some dog schools to see what might be the best fit. She tried agility with my big sister and it was a disaster, so she is a bit leery of it. We shall see what Bailie ends up doing. This was interesting, though, since she is only 3 months old and we don't know when she needs to get started.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Looks like a good time Rocco! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great tips! :) But I don't think we will move beyond our back yard. Pierson doesn't like other dogs and I'm afraid they will be too much of a distraction for him.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am an agility ADDICT! Jimmy and I go to class every week and we are almost 3/4 of the way to our MACH. We have way over the needed points, just have a bit of struggle getting all of our double-Q's. We will get there yet!

    ReplyDelete
  15. So exciting and I can't wait to read more about your adventures. Agility is something Kayo and I will probably start in the fall/winter after the beach and hiking weather disappears. Looking forward to seeing Rocco grow with agility!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dog training helps to build and strengthen a healthy and productive relationship with your dog. http://dogsaholic.com/training/agility-training-for-dogs.html is most helpful one site to train your dog.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Agility is one of the funnest sports that your pup can get into! About a year ago, we started to take agility classes, largely because of Cosmo and your posts! It's fast pace, makes you and your pawrent think, highly active, and tests you on even the most basic of commands.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh, Rocco is so cute! I envy the energy and agility of your furry friend! My Beagle must learn this game of agility and thanks to your blog, I'm really looking around town to see if there are places offering this training. I think dogs should have enough exercise and must have the proper nutrition, too. There are a lot of advantages in giving the best training and exercise for our dogs. They will grow stronger and will have less behavioral problems, as well. I've recently stumbled on a site that gives info on agility training, it's worth a look http://dogsaholic.com/training/agility-training-for-dogs.html

    ReplyDelete