Agility Training for Dogs at Home
Agility training isn’t just for show dogs performing at Crufts 2018 – it’s a way to bond with your pet at home and a popular way to keep them entertained. Agility training is great for all dogs and will undoubtedly nourish their intelligence, so if you want your pet to stay in tip-top shape and thrive off the fun that agility training offers, read on. Find out about the best practises and how to perform dog agility training exercises from our experts here at Green Lane Farm.
What age to start training puppies
Young animals have short attention spans and this is certainly the case for puppies, so as you can imagine it can be hard to train them when they’re only a few months old. However, as they come up to around 6 months, they’re able to learn basic commands such as, ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stand’ and ‘stay’. This type of learning can be the perfect way to build on their obedience and trust before jumping into agility training.
For all commands and training, you must reward your pet. This type of positive reinforcement will encourage them to enjoy their training every step of the way. These rewards can include mini edible treats or their favourite squeaky toy – whatever motivates your puppy best, in order to perform these small tasks.
Begin the process by holding the treat or toy up, over your puppy’s nose so they’re aware of their award. Move it back, so that they ‘sit’, move it slowly to the floor for ‘down’ and bring it back up for ‘stand’. When they move with you, say the command calmly and firmly and this will reinforce the word that they can now associate with the appropriate movement. Give them the treat and tell them that they’re a good boy or girl, along with a generous head ruffle.
Once your puppy has learnt the basics, teach them ‘stay’. Place a treat a good distance away from them and repeat the word ‘stay’, wait a few seconds and say, ‘go on, good boy/girl’. The difference between your calm ‘stay’ and your upbeat, ‘go on’ will help your puppy to understand that it’s now OK for them to take the treat. Again, give them a good pat and let them know that they have done well.
Dog agility equipment for dogs at home
Dogs can only take part in agility shows and competitions when they’re 18+ months old, however, there are many ways you can train your dogs/puppies at home. There are various things you can pick up around the house that can be used for dog agility equipment. These include:
Picnic Benches – for the ‘Dog Walk’
Place large panels of wood over the top of a couple of cinder blocks and fit them securely. This is a great obstacle used to learn balance.
Poles – for weaving
Using a number of poles (8-12) place them into the ground with enough space between each one, so your dog can move between them easily enough.
Cones and crossbars – for standard jumps
Adjust the crossbars accordingly, through the holes in the cones to best suit the height of your dog. This type of hurdle equipment is ideal for building pace and teaching your dog how to jump.
Tunnel – for crawling
A child’s old play tunnel can be used for this or you can pick one up from a pet shop or online. They’re an ideal obstacle that’ll give your dog something to crawl through.
Seesaw – for balance
You can buy a pet training seesaw online – it is an ideal piece of equipment that’ll get them used to balance as it moves with your dog’s weight.
Tyre Jump – for precision
Place a few tyres on the floor in a random order so they can navigate their way through them during their agility training course.
Best Practices / advantages of agility training
Once you have set up a training circuit, it’s time to walk your dog through it. You can show them by doing the course yourself – get involved, this way they’ll see how it’s done and they will want to follow. You can also put your pet on a lead and guide them through the course or try holding a treat out for them to follow – this works well when teaching them how to weave through obstacles.
Ensure your dog is safe whilst you take them around the circuit, never expect them to jump over high crossbars or balance quickly on a seesaw – especially during their first few times. Take them at a sensible pace so they’re comfortable and more importantly, have fun!
Benefits of dog training
- It will encourage your dog to use their natural instincts
- Exercising will keep your dog happy and healthy
- Your bond will grow stronger
- It’ll solve any behaviour issues
- You’ll be able to have off-the-lead trust
- You and your dog will have better communication
Green Lane Farm have a friendly and dedicated team that adore all animals, which is why you can trust us to look after your pets like they’re our own. With over 50 years’ experience caring for all types of pets, we offer a number of comprehensive services to ensure nothing but the very best for your furry family member. If you’re in Banstead, Cobham, Epsom, Esher, Leatherhead, Richmond, Surbiton, Sutton or Wimbledon – contact us today and let’s pencil your pet in for their holiday.