Agility, or manoeuvrability for short, is a quality that every dog possesses. It is a quality that can be trained by doing different exercises. These exercises are a fun activity that you can do together with your dog. Some dogs master these exercises quickly, while others need a bit more time. In the end, your dog’s agility will always be improved by performing these exercises. Are you interested in what these exercises are? Then read on below.
The aim of agility is for your dog to complete a course of obstacles with as few mistakes as possible. You do this together with your dog and during the course you can guide your dog with your voice and gestures. What you are not allowed to do is touch the obstacles.
The great thing about this sport is that it stimulates your dog both physically and mentally and the combination is recommended for every owner. The sport has its origins in horse jumping and, some time ago, a new model was designed especially for dogs.
Why should you teach a dog this?
Learning agility, unlike other skills such as releasing a ball, listening or house-training, is not something that needs to be done in a hurry. However, it is a skill that can be improved through practice and is also something your dog will enjoy. There are advantages to teaching this to a dog as it is good for;
- The coordination and self-confidence of a dog;
- Building a better bond with its owner;
- The interaction of his master
- The flexibility of the dog.
When can you start learning this?
Every dog already has the ability to do agility, so you can start improving this skill right away. It is important, however, to pay attention to the type of exercises you want to teach your dog, as there are different types of exercises for puppies than for adult dogs. You can train a puppy in different exercises, but it is important that the exercises are easy and provide a good basis for more difficult exercises that can be taught when the dog is an adult.
It is also important that the safety of your pup is always paramount, pups can learn very quickly but it is important that you know what is good for your dog. Do you want to know exactly what your dog can handle? Talk to your vet or someone who knows a lot about this dog sport.
Can you teach every dog?
Every dog can improve his agility by doing exercises. It should be noted that some breeds have a better natural aptitude for certain exercises than others, so don’t worry if your dog has a little more difficulty learning them. It can help to start early with learning the basic exercises, this will ensure that your dog will learn them well.
When a dog is an adult, the more difficult exercises are easier to master because he already recognises many things. Please note that with an older dog that has not done such exercises before, it is useful to start with the basic exercises just like with a puppy. This is how you prevent possible injuries.
How does the training look like and what do you have to pay attention to?
Now you know why you should teach it and when it is recommended. Are you curious how you can teach it? Then read on here.
It is important that in the beginning the training sessions are not long. Short sessions of about ten minutes are best, because of the interest your dog has in doing these exercises. It is also important that you reward your dog regularly when he does the exercises correctly. The reason for this is that it increases motivation, which will make the learning process go faster. Remember that there is no rush in learning these exercises, it is for your dog’s own good and for the bond it creates between you. So try to really enjoy it.
An easy first step is to increase your dog’s interest in doing the exercises. You can do this by making frequent eye contact with your dog when you want to teach an exercise, this will make your dog more focused. When a dog feels at ease and confident, learning the exercises will go much faster.
An exercise that can be started is that you hold up your hand and your dog comes to you and presses his nose against your outstretched hand. This will improve coordination and you can later replace your hand with other objects. Subsequently, you can also teach your dog to walk backwards, which also improves flexibility and coordination, and the muscles are used in a different way to what they are actually used to.
Once these exercises have been learnt by your dog, you can make them more challenging by adding new elements. Think of cones or some simple objects that are in your house and in this way you will make it more and more complicated and your dog will get better and better at agility. Remember to keep rewarding your dog when he has learned something new.
When you are finished, it is important to put all the equipment away to prevent your dog from doing the exercises without you being there. This way he will not learn the wrong things and the purpose of the exercises is that you do them together.
Learning agility exercises is something you can teach any dog. It is important that you start with the right exercises and take the time to practise them well, after all there is no rush. The aim of the exercises is for your dog to build up a relationship with you, in addition to agility.
Your dog will improve his flexibility and coordination, which will benefit him for the rest of his life.