Five Reasons to Try Dog Agility

Dog agility is a sport where a handler and dog work together as a team. The handler directs the off-leash dog through an obstacle course. During an actual competition, each dog is judged on time and accuracy. Some people and dogs participate in agility for fun without actually competing. Others travel across the country to test their skills against other teams. Here are some

Reasons to give agility a try with your dog:

1. No experience necessary.

If dog agility is a new concept to you and your dog, that's OK. Many training facilities offer beginning agility classes for puppies and adult dogs. They start out by teaching the basics, slowly introducing the dogs to each obstacle in a positive way and showing the handlers how to maneuver the course.

Some agility instructors might require the dogs to take a basic obedience class beforehand since agility is done off leash. The dog should have at least the basics down as far as coming when called, staying when told and paying attention to the owner. Since some agility classes are held outdoors, you'll want to make sure your dog is wearing current pet ID tags.

2. Mental and physical exercise for your dog.

Some dogs can go running for an hour, and they still have energy to burn! Sometimes working the dog's mind can really make a difference for draining that extra energy. Agility is a great way to give the dog both a physical and a mental workout. And perhaps it will give the owner some decent exercise, too!

3. All types of dogs can participate.

Dog agility is not just for those stereotypical smart, athletic breeds such as border collies. Any type of dog can compete in agility, including dogs of all sizes, ages, breeds and mixed breeds.

4. You and your dog can compete.

The easiest way to get started in agility competitions is to join an agility club in your area. The club will help you and your dog prepare so you know what to expect. There may even be several agility competitions scheduled in your region. It doesn't hurt to go and watch a few before you actually participate with your dog.

For competition, you will likely be required to pay a registration fee at each event. You may also need to show proof that your dog is current on certain vaccinations, and all dogs should wear current pet ID tags, especially when traveling.

5. A chance to increase the dog's overall training.

Training your dog for agility will increase his overall obedience skills. You will learn to trust him off leash, and it will likely strengthen the bond between the two of you. Agility will also increase your dog's awareness of his body and his environment since he will be learning different obstacles such as jumps, tunnels and weave poles. If you have an insecure dog, agility can really help to increase his confidence as he learns to try new things.

Have you every tried agility with your dog?