How To Get Started On Dog Agility Training?

Dog agility training has become more and more popular in recent years. If you are one of the lucky ones, you might have been able to witness such an event in person, or perhaps you have watched it on television or online. This canine-sport is a great way to connect with your dog while giving them plenty of exercise.

If you are interested in trying this with your beloved pooch, you can sign up your dog for an agility class. However, with the current state of the world, you might could even try setting up an agility course at home for the safety of you and your pooch!

In this article, we will provide you with some tips on how to start some basic home agility training that will engage their interest and help increase their confidence.

Benefits Of Agility Training For Dogs

A group of 2 dogs jumping over a pole obstacle course.

Of course, it is best to start dog agility training when they are still young, ideally one to two years old. However, you should take note that puppies might sustain injuries as their bone structures have yet to be fully developed, so it’s best to wait a bit. If you’re worried, check with your veterinarian before you begin any dog agility training, this is to ensure that your dog is in best optimal health. 

If you want to ensure that your pup is ready to begin agility training before they reach the right age, you can start them off with obedience training. This will ensure that they are able to follow commands and comprehend the basic skills needed to compete.

Read here to discover more about the importance of dog obedience training.

Why do agility training in the first place? Here are some of the top reasons why agility training is beneficial for both your pooch…and you!

Benefits of dog agility training

Dog Agility Training 101

An overview of a dog agility training obstacle course.

Following is a guide for some simple agility moves you can teach your dog at home. Of course, there are more, but these are easy enough to set up at home and will help get you and your dog started on the road to success.

Jumping


  1. Set up a simple course using jumps. It can be made from wooden structures placed on raised blocks. Start off with low jumps to build up your dog’s confidence. Walk your dog around the course on their leash, stepping over the jumps and encouraging them to follow your command by saying “over.” In addition, you should also make a hand motion, so they can associate that motion with the command and the jumping course.
  2. Reward your dog for every jump and repeat this training for a few runs every day for about a week. 
  3. Position your dog near the first jump obstacle and command them to sit. Walk to the other side of the jump obstacle and give him the command. Reward for every jump. Then, proceed to stand 2 jumps away and then three and repeat the above. 
  4. Raise the jumps height (an appropriate amount according to your dog’s height) and repeat steps 1 to 3. Eventually practice the jumps alongside  your dog instead of being in front of them to master this skill set.

Tunnel

A dog running through the tunnel obstacle during a dog agility training
  1. Construct a tunnel for your dog starting off with one metal drum, set on its side. Have your dog sit at one end and give them the command to stay.
  2. Take a treat and throw it into the tunnel. As your dog is retrieving the treat, say “tunnel.” Practice this several times a day for about a week.
  3. Add a second drum and repeat steps 1 & 2. Reward him again as they reach the other end of the tunnel.
  4. Extend the tunnel and give commands to turn through each direction. Practice until your dog has mastered the full tunnel.

Weave Poles

A dog passing the weave pole obstacle in a dog agility training.
  1. Position two roles of poles so that your dog can move between the poles. Hold a treat in your hand and get your dog to follow you. Give the “weave” command as they follow you and reward them at the end.
  2. Return your dog to the start of the poles and give the “stay” command. Walking backwards until you reach the halfway point while making sure your dog stays in place. Once you are in place, give the “weave command” as he begins to weave through the poles.
  3. Continue this throughout the rest of the course all while having a treat in your hand to keep their focus. 
  4. Repeat this process, starting back further each time until your dog can confidently and successfully manoeuvre the course.
  5. Gradually move the poles closer together so your dog is weaving  more around the poles. Eventually you will have the poles in a straight line, and they will be able to weave through them with no problem.