How to decide if your dog is fit for dog agility training?

October 11, 2019

Dogs, in general, love sports, and you must involve your dog in various activities that help to harness its energy while providing recreation to the fun-loving animal. When you allow your dog to participate in agility training, you will enable it to take part in some activities that are not only fun for the animal but also good exercise. At the same time, you can direct the energy in the right direction. Agility training involves teaching your dog to overcome obstacles by going over see saws, to weave poles and crawl under tables. Such activities can be beneficial and rewarding for dogs and pet owners alike.

Along with harnessing the abundant energy of your dog, agility training helps to boost the dog’s confidence level. It also improves the bond between you and your dog. After the vet assesses the exercising needs of the dog, based on the recommendation, you can add a new chapter in training your dog.  To know more about opportunities in agility training for your dog, look up at the website

The sport for all dogs

Dogs taking part in agility sports must learn how to cross over obstacles in a specified time.  During the late 70s, agility became entertainment for spectators, and today it is the fastest-growing dog sport in North America, England, and Western Europe. The enthusiasm of the dogs and its handlers is a treat for the spectators. The participants demonstrate their athleticism to overcome obstacles and cover the course in the shortest time. Local dog training clubs hold trials for agility based on international rules. These rules call for the highest level of agility of dogs in terms of their physical ability and speed to perform the obstacles.

All are welcome

The sport does not discriminate dog breeds because all types of dogs, from purebreds to mixed breeds, can participate in the competition. The sport of agility has welcomed the participation of 150 dog breeds, including mixed breeds treated as a single group as the animals prove their mettle in jumping hurdles, running through tunnels and climbing ramps.

Agility sport derives its inspiration from equestrian jumping events and bears many similarities with it. The scoring pattern considers the faults committed by the participants while navigating the obstacle course. And just like equestrian sports, agility sport is also very popular with spectators.

Is your dog fit for the sport?

As a pet owner, you might be very much interested to see your dog performing in agility sports, which is a matter of pride indeed. But first, you must assess if your dog has in it the qualities and abilities to participate. All dogs might not have a liking for the high energy sporting event, and you must consult the vet to assess if your dog could make it. The sport is very demanding both mentally and physically, and only your vet can determine if your dog could be a suitable candidate for it. The dog must go through intense competition training to qualify for the sport, and you must consider the dog’s well-being first in terms of psychology and health.

Is your dog is of medium build that comes from a breed that has retained their original working abilities? Then it is an excellent candidate to do well in agility competitions.  Luckily, no single breed dominates the agility trials because any outstanding individual of any breed can perform well in local as well as national events. Besides the build of the dog, its level of agility determines its candidature.

Health considerations

The energy level of dogs is not the only parameter to consider if the dog is fit for agility sports. Its health should also be good enough to withstand the physical and mental hardships. Else it might get injured and even aggravate any pre-existing condition. Before entering the phase of intensive training, a pre-screening is very much necessary, which can consist of examination of the elbow, hip, and eyes. Radiography tests are essential for hip and elbow dysplasia. The dog should have unobstructed vision and score at least Fair in the rating system to acquire the minimal standard of fitness. The dog’s weight is also a very sensitive factor. What is a good weight for a healthy pet dog with the ability to perform regular activity might be too much for agility training and competition. Overweight dogs or those without proper conditioning can become prone to injuries. They might not perform well as soft tissue injuries, and muscle strains are most common in them. 

Train your dog for the event

Your dog must go through agility training to prepare for the event, but before that, some basic obedience training would be necessary. Since the dog has to respond to the commands of the handler appropriately, it must have the training to promptly come off-leash when called, sit, down, maintain cool when other dogs are around, hold a brief stay and be ready to respond to unknown handlers. Dog owners, handlers or trainers who have encouraged the dog from the time it was a puppy to play fetch would be at an advantage over others who have not.

The training begins by introducing the dog to smaller obstacles, and they slowly extending the height and length of the equipment over several training sessions to their full competition standard. During this stage of the training, dogs learn to spot the obstacles and develop the skills necessary to deal with it. At an early stage of the training, leashes are removed as it can get entangled with the equipment.  The training makes the dog confident to negotiate the obstacles safely. After completing the necessary training, in the next phase the handler conditions the dog to jump higher obstacle heights and teaches it to respond to verbal command as well as body signals to direct it around the course without the leash.

Looking after the dog well by ensuring ongoing physical maintenance helps to prevent injuries in training or competition.  Trimming nails regularly ensures safety as it does not catch on the equipment or hinder the dog’s traction.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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