Dog Agility: More than a Sport

Many people across the globe love their dogs and have found new ways to demonstrate the bond between them. One of the ways that one can see the bond between man and dog is through dog sport. There are many different kinds of dog sports out there from obedience trails, dock diving, and so much more. I recently picked up dog agility as a sport to help my dog, Belle, use up her excess energy. What I found surprising was the community that I found surrounding those participating in the sport as well as the benefits that owner and dog could receive from practicing agility.

IMG_7393The biggest benefit I found while training is that the partnership with your dog grows. For example, Belle often looks for my movements to get a clue on where she needs to go. She responds more quickly to commands and is more engaged to our family. I started to understand how her brain works with various challenges. We practice daily and have a strict exercise regiment to help focus her energy. The practice and exercise helps prevents injury while running the course. In agility, I tend to use more voice commands while signing directions with my hands so Belle can know not only where to go, but how to deal with the challenge presented in front of her. These requirements means that owners have to plan time for these extra requirements along with having a strong understanding of basic commands. I highly suggest reading Having Fun With Agility by Margaret H. Bonham. It helps give suggestions on a reasonable exercise routine along with training recommendations so that it stays fun for both handlers and dogs. You can easily find it on Amazon or possibly your local library. Don’t want to buy and the library doesn’t have it then use Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans. It is a great program and I highly recommend it. I found agility helped curb Belle’s excess energy that caused her to misbehave and destroy her toys at home. I also found myself toning up surprisingly from all the exercise I was now doing, and the extra time I am spending outdoors.

Competitors and trainers have built a community around these competitions and training sessions. Everyone is there for the dogs and are focused on having a good time. Agility can be run as a solo or a team competition so it is common place for owners that train and compete together to cheer for each other. I truly believe this is because we are all sweating messes trying to direct around obstacles and the pure joy that some dogs get out of it is contagious. The attitude between competitors is of camaraderie vs. the prim and proper nature of dog exhibition. I have grown close with the other handlers in my training sessions at What a Great Dog! in Frisco, TX. Conversations are held over what our dogs find challenging, laughing at the silly mistakes made, and what competitions we are planning to attend. I remember discussing with another trainer the different brands of equipment out there. I made my own set of jumps and weaves out PVC from scratch since I was on a small budget and we found that Dog Agility Essentials Set from Affordable Agility was the brand that the trainers liked if a person didn’t mind spending a bit more.

Quick Tip: I wouldn’t recommend building your own equipment out of PVC unless you have a decent saw and drill along with a Saturday afternoon free. It is a messy job and I am still finding shavings in my garage. So if you short on time and don’t want to deal with a major mess then purchase Dog Agility Essentials Set from Affordable Agility.

What started as a hobby has quickly become a passion during my free time. What do you think of the culture of dog agility?

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