Connectedness and love are at the forefront of healthy animal love. We want to form a bond with our dogs that is based on trust and friendship. Man’s most faithful friend is so willing to give us his heart if we understand him and thus we can make a unity. But how do you achieve such a firm bond – without being able to talk to each other? Through shared experiences! Many dog lovers are looking for opportunities for joint employment. Maybe you are also on this path and that’s why you are interested in the dog sport agility? You are concerned with questions such as “How much mental and physical workload does my dog actually need?”, “Agility, is this something for me and my dog?” and “What can I and my dog expect from agility?” – Then we wish you a lot of fun reading our article!
What is Agility?
In agility, the dog and owner complete a course with different obstacles together as a team. The dog is guided through the course by its master or mistress by means of a hand signal and voice without a leash. The biped does not have to cross the hurdles, consisting of long jump, tires, tunnels, catwalk, seesaw, slalom, and sloping wall, but only instructs his dog partner. The goal is to complete the 100 to 220 meter long agility course flawlessly and in the best time.
How does it work?
With clear and understandable communication for both sides. A trusting basis and certain basic obedience are essential for the agility tournament and can be practiced in advance in agility training.
What are the requirements for agility dog sports?
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“Is my dog suitable for agility dog sports?”, this question related to the character of your dog you can best answer yourself. How is your dog like that? Is he more active and can’t get enough exercise and employment? Or is he lying lazily on the sofa and happy when he doesn’t have to move?
The Basic No. 1 requirement for agility is that both you and your dog enjoy it!
What does my dog need to bring with him for the dog sport Agility?
- Your dog should really want to race through the agility course together with you!
- The four-legged friend must be completely healthy – physically and psychologically!
- Your dog should have some skill and the basic will to “work” with you.
- Only adult dogs are allowed to participate in agility training. Participation in agility tournaments is permitted from the age of 18 months.
- Its physical characteristics are created for agility dog sports. Ergo: It is not a dachshund or other short-legged or flat-nosed dog breeds such as Pekinese and French bulldogs. Even very large and heavy dogs such as the Great Dane or the St. Bernard are less suitable for agility.
What do I need to bring with me for agility dog sports?
- Similar to your dog, you should of course also enjoy the joint activity and be mentally and physically able to guide your dog through the agility course.
- As long as sufficient (!) Understanding the nature of the dog, the age of the dog handler does not play a role at agility tournaments.
- Sporty clothing and good sports shoes with non-slip sole
- Some skill and a good body feeling as well as empathy, patience, and a good mood!
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Requirements for Agility Training
- Mental and physical health (please look closely at your dog’s joints!)
- Mastering the basic commands (can be intensified in the training itself)
- Fun of the activity
Even puppies who are at least 15 weeks old are allowed to get a taste of the dog’s sport agility. Of course, it is important that the small ones do not yet take any big hurdles, but are playfully introduced to the individual obstacles of the agility course. The tunnel, for example, is a suitable element for puppies and beginners.
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Requirements for participation in agility tournaments
- Although there is no minimum age for participation in agility tournaments, it is important that there is sufficient understanding of the communication between dog and human.
- You and your dog have successfully passed the companion dog test.
- Your dog must be chipped, vaccinated, and insured.
Why is dog sport/agility useful?
It’s always nice to spend time with those you love. This is quite clear for us in human-human relationships. But also the dog-human bond is strengthened by shared experiences. Agility combines fun, movement, bonding, education, people, dogs, and the pursuit of a common goal: to be the most skillful team on the course! To become that, it needs intensive training. This common quality time in dog sports ensures that your dog can work out mentally and physically. A busy dog is known to be a relaxed dog. Or is it?
How much mental and physical workload does a dog need?
Finding the right balance is sometimes not easy. “Is he too bored? My Henry is just lying around.”, “Bingo just can’t standstill. He has energy for 10!” … And both of them still need a healthy average level of utilization. Maybe bingo is the better candidate for the sporting competition, but he also needs enough rest periods. A dog can and should learn that you can relax and drive down at home. If you send the bingo five extra rounds through the course, he will demand a sixth next time. Henry could gain more life energy through some movement and mental utilization through teamwork. He could – but maybe he doesn’t have a goat either. Then you can let him lead his supposedly “boring” life and question whether your head might trick you in this case and Henry is quite satisfied?
Please take a tip to heart: Don’t overwhelm your dog. Dogs are ready to give everything for us until complete exhaustion.
Which breeds are suitable for agility?
These dog breeds can be seen particularly often in the agility course:
Of course, many other dog breeds are also suitable for this dog sport.
Which agility devices are there?
The 100 to 220 meter long agility course is located in a limited area of at least 30 x 40 meters. Among other things, the following hurdles can be found there:
- Inclined wall
- Long jump
- Fabric tunnel
- Fixed tunnel
How does an agility tournament work?
Shortly before the start of the tournament, the registered dogs are measured on site and then divided into one of three groups: Small (dogs up to 35 cm), Medium (dogs between 35 and 43 cm), or Large (dogs from 43 cm). Beginners start in the performance class A0 and can advance to classes A1, A2, or A3 through certain qualifications.
Before the start, you and your dog arrive in peace. You look around and your dog is allowed to detach after the car ride. Completely relaxed, you register with the performance judges, have your dog measured, and, if necessary, open your quarters for the night.
Don’t forget to pack enough strength, water, and nerve food for both of you!
Before it goes to the start, there is also a course inspection. You have five minutes to memorize the course and the most skillful way through it.
Stay on the pitch in time for your start time and pay attention to the announcements of the performance judge. When it’s your turn, you lead your dog on a leash into the agility course. On the signal of the power judge, you detach the carabiner of the dog leash from the collar uuuuuuuuu and off you go!
A total of 3 races will take place for each team. Only the first and second races play a role in the classification. The third round counts as a game.
After all three rounds have been completed, the award ceremony will take place with the announcement of the fastest and most skillful team. Maybe it’s you and your dog?
Agility exercises for the home
Competition can be an incentive to leave your own comfort zone. Maybe you wanted to force yourself to move more than your dog by signing up for agility? Performing a sport together with like-minded people can lead us to develop ambition and stay on the ball in the long run.
Nevertheless, agility does not have to be practiced in tournaments. Casual training in a group, as well as agility exercises in your own garden, living room, or on daily walks, are also excellent opportunities for this.
You would like to try out whether this dog sport is even suitable for you and your dog? Then there are three simple agility exercises for beginners in the home workout:
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The exercise that is not an exercise
A little tip in advance:
before you buy obstacles or build them yourself, you can train your mindfulness. Where do you walk with your dog every day? Do you occasionally pass fallen trees or non-slip park benches? Maybe there is an old ruin with small stone walls somewhere or simply paths with different surfaces? Here you can not only keep your dog busy but also train his dexterity and coordination at the same time. With a little balance exercise and proper praise, he will master the first agility training lesson in the dog club even better!
But now really: The tunnel
A tunnel is ideal for getting started with agility dog sports at home. Foldable tunnels made of fabric can be stowed away in a space-saving manner and can be easily set up. Thanks to the folding technology, the tunnel can be set up in its entirety or in shortened form. Some dogs are scared at the beginning when they are supposed to go through the tunnel. If your dog sees you waiting at the other end with a treat and trusts you, he will quickly understand what fun the tunnel brings. Puppies may also be introduced to this agility device in a playful way.
Off to the Dogwalk: The Catwalk
A jetty can be built at home with little effort. All you need is a board of any length and two wooden blocks (or another stable elevation) to lift the bridge off the ground. Of course, it is important that the whole thing has enough stability not to tip over when your dog balances on it. Check the wood for splinters, nails, and sharp edges to minimize the risk of injury. You are welcome to get creative here and also use fallen tree trunks on the Walksirunde for your balance exercises! One (or more) disused shelf board is also suitable for building a catwalk. Depending on how skillful your dog is, you can use wide or narrow boards. But make sure that it is safe for your dog at all times and not too difficult.
Zack, Zack, Zack, zack: The Slalom
Left, right, left, right, left, right – and at great speed! In the agility course, dogs have a lot of fun slalom running. You can easily try it at home. In addition to hats or poles that you put in the ground, you can use all sorts of (safe) objects to let your dog run around them. First of all, it is helpful to teach your dog to follow your hand movement. Start with three to four obstacles, between which your dog follows you (or your hand with treats) in the slalom. Then you can slowly expand to 12 poles, hats, stuffed animals, or watering cans because a dozen poles await you on the course. But let it be said to you: If you create one, you can do it all – zack, zack, zack, zack!
Before each training session, you should warm up both yourself and your dog sufficiently! Otherwise, injuries are inevitable!
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Is agility a dog sport for every dog and everyone?
Basically, agility is a terrific activity for all those who enjoy movement, action, and dexterity. Healthy two- and four-legged friends can spend time as a unit on the training course and at agility tournaments. If you are looking for a way to strengthen the bond with your dog and at the same time use it to capacity, you should definitely get a taste of the fast-paced dog sport. Conscientiously executed, agility contributes to the overall fitness and health of the dog and owner.