Dogs are naturally fun to exercise. No wonder, after all, this enthusiasm is in their blood: Their ancestor, the wolf, often goes back over 20 kilometers on his daily hikes and achieves impressive speeds while hunting. Although our dogs today have completely different life circumstances, daily walks in the nearest park are rarely enough to keep them mentally and physically busy. Therefore, but also because of the fun factor, various dog sports have been developed over the years. One of the best known and most popular dog sports is Agility.
What is agility?
The dog sport is originally from England and came to Germany in the 80s. Since then Agility has become established worldwide. The sport is offered by many dog sports clubs and even tournaments and world championships are held.
In agility, the dog should be able to cope with a track with up to 22 obstacles as fast as possible and without any errors – that is, to run a course. For example, the dogs have to walk through tunnels, jump over obstacles or through a tire. The order of obstacles is given by body language and voice. The biped must not touch his dog. Even on collar and leash Agility is omitted.
The sport requires high concentration and coordinated teamwork, so it is suitable for mental and physical workload. Of course, the joint training also strengthens the bond between humans and animals.
What are my dog’s requirements for Agility?
So that it works with the common training, the dog should master at least the basic commands. Since the dog sport is divided into different size and performance classes, it is suitable for almost all dogs. Excluded are dogs with joint problems as well as very large and heavy breeds, such as the Great Dane, as the spurs could lead to joint damage.
The health of the four-legged friend is important in all dog sports. In case of illnesses, therefore, should be discussed with the veterinarian and decide whether and when a low-level training is possible.
Young dogs and senior dogs are considered separately in Agility, as they have other physical requirements and can not cope with many obstacles. In puppies, agility can at worst lead to joint and growth damage. The little ones playfully get used to the tunnel, of course, does not hurt. Performance oriented puppies should not practice dog sport.
What do I have to look out for when I want to do agility with my dog?
Even if your dog’s health is optimal, you should not underestimate that agility is fast becoming a competitive sport. The dog should be challenged but not overwhelmed. A responsible coach makes sure that the four-legged starts to warm up into training. Otherwise there is an increased risk of injury to ligaments, tendons and joints.
A dog who regularly trains for tournaments also has a special claim to his diet. Like a competitive athlete, a sporty dog has an increased need for nutrients. Since each four-legged is unique, discuss the ideal amount of food at best with your veterinarian. The dog should never be fed directly before training, but in any case get enough water provided.
For all your sporting ambitions, you should never forget the fun factor. The dog should train with motivation and under no circumstances be forced. Regular rewards for good performance provide sustained motivation. Many dogs are susceptible to praise in the form of treats. These can easily be carried in a suitable bag during training. So you have fast access to it and can always reward your dog at the right moment. Some dogs also enjoy a short game with their favorite toy instead.
What do I need for agility?
First, you will probably run agility in a dog sports club. Above all, the size of the group is important. Too many dogs in a group hurt the concentration and extend the waiting time between runs. Especially at low temperatures this is uncomfortable and poses a health risk to the dogs as they could cool down.
If you want to participate with your dog in tournaments, you may soon have the desire to train in the garden. Then you would need the typical obstacles for the agility course. These include, for example, hurdles, tunnels and slalom poles.
My dog does not enjoy agility – and now?
Every dog is an individual and has an individual character. Therefore, it is also completely normal that not every four-legged friend for agility. Although it is often said that some dog breeds are more suitable for dog sports than others, exceptions are known to confirm the rule. Every Border Collie does not have to shine with obsession with Obedience, nor does any Golden Retriever need to retrieve it. If your dog does not have agility, try another dog sport. If you want performance-oriented and precise work with your four-legged friend, Obedience might appeal to you. Much exercise also comes into play at DogDance. For whom fun and team work are in the foreground, which is perhaps well advised with the still young dog sport Rally Dance – which is under proper guidance even for senior dogs and dogs with health handicaps.
For Agility to be so perfect, dogs and humans naturally have to work long and hard. However, this Border Collie shows that two-and four-legged friends not only have to work hard at dog sports, but also have a lot of fun.