For dogs and owners who love to spend time together outside, dog agility might be the perfect sport.
Agility is becoming more and more popular – and its emphasis on physical fitness, mental focus, and unbeatable teamwork is why it’s one of the main events at the Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge (IDC). Agility may look demanding, but it’s easy to start with just one event – or simply to have some casual fun with your dog at home in the backyard.
The elements of the sport are
- A dog in good condition and with good balance
- Weave poles
- Elevated beam
- A clean outdoor area with even ground and no obstacles
HOW COMPETITION WORKS
In Dog Agility at the IDC, each dog and owner pair must complete the designated course as fast as possible.
The course order can change from event to event, but, in general, it includes the following elements:
- Fabric tunnels, some with open ends and some with extra fabric at the end that the dog must run into and out of
- Tires or other suspended hoops that the dog must jump through
- An A-frame that the dog must run up one side of and down the other (without jumping off)
- An elevated beam, or “dog walk,” that the dog must walk or run up to on a ramp, run all the way along, and run down from on a ramp (without jumping off)
- Weave poles, where the dog must weave between each pole
- Jumps that the dog must clear without knocking down any bars
- A teeter-totter that the dog must walk or run up, allow to tilt, and walk or run down the other side of (without jumping off)
Agility is easy to try at home, with the addition of a little equipment. You can buy agility equipment online or build your own at home to get started. As with any activity with your dog, make sure you have a safe, contained area, and start slow so your dog doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Jumps are one of the easiest ways to start training. Kneeling next to your jump with a treat in your hand, tell your dog to sit and stay. Release your dog and lead him over the jump in an arcing motion with the treat. When he’s on the other side, reward him with the treat and praise. Gradually increase the height of the jump until it’s at the regulation height for your dog’s size. (Find the right jump height for your dog in the official rules.
Learn more about basic jumps
or move on to the running jump.
Another way to get started training is with an agility tunnel. Start with a short, straight tunnel to get your dog used to the equipment. Enlist a friend to hold your dog at one end of the tunnel, kneel on the other end, and make eye contact with your dog, then call him through. When he successfully runs through the tunnel, reward him with a treat or praise. As your dog gets comfortable with the tunnel, you can increase the length and add curve to the shape to increase the difficulty. See how to get started
Agility is full of variety and challenge for all kinds of dog, big or small. From practicing a few basic jumps to running the full course at high speed, agility offers a way to have fun with your dog at almost any level – so go get started!