Agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs generally run off-leash with no food or toys as incentives. The handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles, except accidentally. Consequently, the handler's controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal.
In its simplest form, an agility course consists of a set of standard obstacles, laid out by an agility judge in a design of his own choosing on a roughly 100ftx100ft (30mx30m) area, with numbers indicating the order in which the dog must complete the obstacles.
Courses are complicated enough that a dog could not complete them correctly without human direction. In competition, the handler must assess the course, decide on handling strategies, and direct the dog through the course, with precision and speed equally important. Many strategies exist to compensate for the inherent difference in human and dog speeds and the strengths and weaknesses of the various dogs and handlers.
Agility Training for Your Dog
Agility training is the process of training a dog to complete obstacles and agility exercises at the instruction of voice commands. Agility training should be started early in the dogís life to ensure max odds of success. Regular agility training should then take place to further the skills of your dog. Agility training goes beyond just running and jumping; it is a process of trust building, discipline and obstacle negotiation.
Agility training for dogs originated in England and is thought to have been inspired by equestrian horse events. There are dog agility contests that people like to enter their pets in, or you can just do it for fun. Whatever your reason for putting your dog through agility training, one thing is certain - the dogs seem to love doing it!
Dog Agility training is a fun, and very active sport that people of any age can enjoy with their pets. First started for training service dogs for military and police work as well as protection, the average agility course, although now brightly coloured and pleasing to look at is remnant of those very exercises needed to encourage extreme working ability.
There is no aggression in dog agility training however. This is a separate aspect of the rigors of working dogs. Military, police, and protection dogs not only needed to know how to protect and be aggressive, they needed to be able to move through obstacles in ways that facilitated chases most commonly seen in the field. Looking at the common agility course it is easy to see how the ramps, hurdles, and other obstacles were designed precisely for that purpose.
In competitive dog agility training the emphasis, however, is not on grilling your canine to chase bad guys, it is on seeing what physical accomplishments they can achieve while still being accompanied by discipline and work. Many obstacles in the dog agility training course have designed spots that much be made contact with making it necessary for both dog and handler to be observant and keen in concentration while still running the course at top speed.
There is very often either a marked out area on the ground, or an actual raised platform whereat one point, even after moving at top speed and in spite of the fact that completing the course in the fastest time with the least errors is the goal, the dog must stop at the handlerís command and lay still for a designated amount of time. This is the type of restraint that shows the teamwork, dedication, and training that dog agility training brings to the partnership of man and beast.
Very often hand signals are used to guide the dog through the largest parts of the course, making it possible for a well-trained team of handler and dog to compete even if the handler is not as agile as their canine partner. The great thing about dog agility training is that even without the pressures of competition, regardless of abilities or handicaps, any dog owner can enjoy the thrill of working closely with their pets to achieve a great bond and relationship through practicing any of the parts in a dog or canine agility training course.