All About Agility Dog Training and the Sport

October 14, 2007

photo courtesy of Sigridur Vala Gunnarsdottiragility dog training
Agility dog training is all about teaching dogs tricks. Here the old adage holds true – an old dog cannot be taught new tricks. So the start must be made when they are puppies and just beginning to understand.

It is a sport – a sport with shows and prizes across the globe. The main artists are the dog and the handler. The latter guides the dog through an obstacle run in which both time and accuracy are crucial factors.

In dog agility training the dogs are kept unleashed and neither food nor toys are allowed to be offered as incentives. The handlers are not allowed to touch either the dog or the hurdles. The handler can only control the animal by the tone of his voice or movement of his body by using signals. Thus in this sport both man and animal are involved in an exceptional training programme and show.

A simple agility hurdle course consists of some standard obstacles laid out by the judge of the show. The area comprises roughly of 100 square meters with numbers laid out to show which obstacles the competitors must complete. The courses are complicated and so planned that a dog cannot complete the run without being directed by a human.

The handler gauges the course and decides ahead of the strategies to be undertaken. The dog has to be directed with accuracy and matching speed. What man does not have is compensated by the dog and vice versa. It is a matching game between weakness and strength with one making up for the deficiency of the other.

In agility dog training shows no two courses are alike. Hence the dog training guide is allowed to walk through the field and thoroughly inspect the set up unaccompanied by their pets. Sometimes printed copies of the field layout of the course are given to the guides.

Before the start of the actual show each pair is allowed once to rehearse the proceedings. The dog stands behind a starting line and when given the instructions by the handler sets off on course.

The usual hurdles laid out on the course are A-frame, see-saw, tunnels, collapsed tunnels, cross-overs, single jumps, tyre jumps, triple bar jumps, weave poles etc. It is a delight to see man and beast in partnership jumping over hurdles, swinging across another or zigzagging through a third.

For novices in the field dog training tips can be best obtained not only from the spoken instructions of the handlers but by actually seeing the duo in action streaking across one hurdle after another in joyous partnership.

The penalty counts vary and depend on timing, missed poles, knocked bars or any other measure. It varies from organization to organization and there are no set rules. Everywhere the dogs are however grouped according to their size with separate prizes for each in this agility dog training sport.


2 Responses to “All About Agility Dog Training and the Sport”

  1. Milly Pyles on January 2nd, 2008 1:49 am

    HELP! I have a 4 year-old beagle (Abby). I’ve had her since she was a baby and yes, like all beagles she likes attention and likes t be near people all the time. Also, like all beagles, she has a very loud and annoying bark/houl mix. She’s typically quiet but whenever she gets excited she goes off barking and there’s no way to stop her. This typically happens when she sees me after I leave her at a boarding place or someone’s house when I travel or when someone comes to our house (any guests she’s happy to see like family members or friends). I understand that she does it because sje’s excited to see me or other people but I wish I knew a way to stop her from doing this as it is highly annoying not just for me but mostly for the people that happen to be around at the time. Any tips on how to get her to stop this? Thanks in advance!

  2. admin on January 5th, 2008 11:20 am

    Hi Milly

    The first thing to understand – even before keeping a pet – is that there are natural instincts that cannot be stifled or rather should not be done. You cannot tell the cuckoo not to sing! It might be troublesome for humans but there are many things about humans that animals do not like. I would say that the barking dog seeing you after a long time is a sure sign of its healthy emotions. How else can a dog express it feelings except by barking? After the trauma of a separation from you it opens up its floodgates of emotions. You should feel happy for receiving this undiluted love.

    Now for some practical tips. There are in the market three types of dog collars that will deter the dog from barking. The first kind gives the dog a mild shock as soon as the collar gets a signal from its barking. The second kind triggers off ultrasonic sound (that humans cannot hear) and deter the dog from barking. The third type of collar has a device fitted that releases a repugnant smell as soon as the dog barks. It associates the unpleasant sensations of shock, sound and smell with its barking and controls it.

    Many pet lovers are averse to these collars and so I have a simple solution. Roll a newspaper into a pseudo stick and whack it in front of the dog, without hitting it. The paper roll will give out a loud noise and deter the dog. Even if the dog gets accidentally hit by the missile, it will not get hurt but it will get the message that such show of exuberance is not welcome.


Got something to say?