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How To Start Training A Dog For Agility
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Introduction and History
Dog agility training began as a sport in the UK in the 1970s, and involves successful completion of an obstacle course. It's a great way to develop a strong bond between pet and owner; it can also help build confidence in timid dogs (and owners). It's also a great form of exercise as it uses not just the dog's physicality, but the intelligence as well. The human partner may find that their fitness improves as they are required to do as much work as the dog. Whilst agility training can be done to allow participation in competition, there's no rule to say it's not just for a fun time with your dog.
Type of Suitable Dog
Any dog can be trained for agility, although competitively, working breeds such as Border Collies tend to excel (to the point where they can have their own separate category when competing). It's possible to start when the pooch is a puppy, but as some of the activities are quite strenuous on the joints, it's recommended that the puppy should be at least 8 months old, and can obey basic commands, such as sit and stay. Both owner and dog also need to be fairly fit.
What is required to begin training is a basic set of equipment: a tunnel; cones for weaving through; something to jump over; an "A" frame; and a table to pause on. This may seem daunting and expensive, but you may fine a club that you can join or a class in your area. However, as training for agility is a gradual process you may find that you can start slowly with one piece of equipment and build up the course gradually. Initially a lead and collar will be necessary until your dog is familiar with everything.
It's best to start slowly: allowing your dog to become familiar with the obstacles. Walk your dog around the course, learning that there is no threat. You may find that you will have to demonstrate the obstacles to your dog so that he or she gets the idea of what he/or she is supposed to do. Start the jumps low and gradually increase the height. You may want to concentrate on one obstacle and then add more. Always, always praise and reward with treats when something, no matter how small, is done well. Never punish: the idea is for you to enjoy your time with your dog.
Charlie Cory makes his living from computers as a consultant, and has been creating web sites and marketing them for a number of years.
Some of the basic requirements for training a dog for agility, as well as a discovering the real secrets to training a dog. Learn how to deal with excessive barking, nipping or jumping, without scolding or hitting your dog.
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