It’s more than a growing trend. It’s an outlet for your dog’s natural, instinctual habits. It’s a timed event, consisting of a roadmap of several obstacles, which your dog is asked to negotiate in a particular order, without fault, and under a judge-determined time limit. The pressure is on!
Think about what you know about your dog’s ancestors’ behavior. In the wild, dogs are required to chase and kill prey, and to also avoid being the prey. Imagine pursuit of a rabbit, for instance. That rabbit, when chased by a hungry canine, will hurdle rocks, slip under fallen logs, teeter on natural bridges, climb sheer slopes, and squeeze through brambles and thick brush. And if that dog is hungry, he’ll be required to do the same. Considering the hardy survival of the canine population in the wild, we can deduct that they’ve been considerably successful in chasing those quick little guys. Because they’re good at it!
Here’s another thought. Humans are also designed to be agile. Your ancestors sprinted from saber-tooth tigers, traversed rushing rivers, zigzagged through dense forests, and chased food of their own.
So, as you may guess that I’m going to suggest…why not join your dog in a rewarding sport that plays into all that’s natural and necessary..exercise, entertainment, satisfaction? All wrapped into a fast paced and elegant demonstration of adrenaline-fueled teamwork..in dog agility trials.
The History of Dog Agility
As with many of the most innovative and useful inventions, dog agility’s birth was rather unintentional. At London’s famous Crufts Dog Show in 1978, a horse-enthusiast was charged with entertaining the crowd between events. He designed a spectator event that employed dogs, doing equestrian-like feats. It was a hit, and came to the States in 1986, under the title of the U.S. Dog Agility Association. It was so much fun that it has become the fastest-growing dog sport in history.
Is your Dog an Athlete?
Or Would He Rather Just Take a Seat?
I hate to create an exclusive club here, but as with most sports, certain types are more conducive to success. Generally speaking, if your dog is descendant from a working breed, and is of medium build, then his chances of doing well are greatly increased. Among the best breeds for dog agility training are: Terriers, Shepherds, Collies, Retrievers,Sheepdogs, Spaniels, Poodles, Schnauzers, Cattle Dogs, Pinschers, Corgis, Canaans, Malinois, Papillons, and Tervurens. Mixed breeds are accepted by all dog agility clubs, except for the AKC.
Some breeds are definite underdogs when it comes to agility training. Giant breeds like Great Danes and Mastiffs usually have neither the energy nor the desire to participate. Short-nosed breeds like Boxers,Bulldogs, and some Terriers have difficulty with activities that require heavy breathing. Breeds with short legs, like Dachshunds, can have a hard time clearing the jumps.
Age can also be a factor to consider. Puppies are excluded from trials until they reach 9 months of age, and it’s recommended that dogs older than 8 years of age enjoy their retirement – work free.
As we discussed earlier, a lot of your dog’s ability will be determined by his personality and energy level. Don’t lose heart…if you’ve got a snorer, a giant breed, or a little shrimp…remember that no breed is excluded from dog agility trails. If your kid’s got heart, then give it a shot. On the other paw, if your guy would rather lie on your lap and not break a pant, he may be better suited to a low-impact sport, the spectator type.
Benefits of Dog Agility Training
You’ve probably gathered, by now, from the information contained in my site, that almost any food, activity, or pastime that adheres to a canine’s natural lifestyle (as in that of his ancestors) is best. Agility enhances all of your active dog’s inherent abilities, plus one added element – YOU. So, that means it’s doubly beneficial – because it caters to the natural order for you and your pooch.
Once you begin, and continue to improve upon, your dog’s agility training, you’ll notice that he’s more alert, vigorous, and confident. His problem-solving capabilities will multiply. The attention that you require from him will strengthen his bond with you, reinforce basic obedience commands, and improve his communication ability. The physical demands of the dog agility courses will hone his coordination, increase endurance, and improve his overall health through physical fitness. And all of that exercise will improve his behavior off the course – because as we all know – a tired dog is a good dog.
And, yes, as for you…all of the above benefits apply. Go ahead, read the list again – it’s practically guaranteed!