Agility training is a great way to increase endurance, improve your dog’s coordination, and keep them fit. If you’re interested in agility training, you might be curious to know: What age can my dog start agility?
In this article, I will cover some important information about agility training, including when your dog can start agility and how to prepare your puppy for agility.
Keep reading to find out more.
What Age Can A Dog Start Agility Training?
The minimum age for a dog to compete in agility is around eighteen months old.
That being said, a dog can start preparing for agility when they are a puppy. Once you’ve laid the foundations, you can begin agility training as young as under a year old, starting with jumps at a low height.
However, it’s important that you make the process fun and treat it as a bonding exercise when your dog is still young. After all, both you and your dog need to enjoy themselves, and there doesn’t need to be any added pressure on either of you.
Is Agility Training Cruel?
No, agility training isn’t cruel, as it involves training your dog with positive reinforcement and can be a great bonding experience for you and your dog.
That being said, your dog’s level of athleticism and ability should be considered during each training session to ensure that you remain in tune with your dog’s needs.
This is especially true when you’re prepping your puppy for agility training, as they are still growing and you don’t want to risk hindering their development.
It’s also important for you to know that if agility training becomes stressful for your dog, they could burn out as a result of this.
Bearing this in mind, it’s always important to remain observant and be able to spot the signs of stress in your dog. Their safety should always take priority.
How To Prepare Your Puppy For Dog Agility Training
You can start preparing your puppy for agility as soon as you bring him home.
Puppies learn very quickly when you are consistently training them, and it’s both fun and rewarding to watch them pick up new things that you have taught them.
A few ways to prepare your puppy for agility training include:
Teaching Basic Commands
As you might imagine, you will need to start off with the basics when you first bring your puppy home. This means teaching them basic commands such as sit, down, and stay with positive reinforcement and plenty of treats to help you along the way.
The follow me game is helpful, as it teaches your dog to walk along your side no matter where you are. In addition to this, recall games can significantly improve your puppy’s development.
Agility training focuses on a variety of different tricks, so teaching your puppy tricks is an important way of preparing your puppy for agility. Tricks are not only fun, but they are a great way to refocus your dog when they are mature and are competing in agility later down the line.
Once your dog has mastered these tricks in the comfort of your own home, it’s a good idea to practise them in a foreign environment.
This will build up their confidence and will prepare them for the foreign environment of the agility course when it comes to them competing. That being said, you will want to make sure that other dogs and people don’t overwhelm them.
Enrolling Your Puppy In A Puppy Agility Class
One of the best ways to help prepare your puppy for agility training is to enroll them in a puppy agility class.
There are many skills that your puppy can learn when they are young to create a foundation for when it comes to agility training when they have matured.
These classes are tailored to puppies and tend to use foundation equipment that is small enough for your puppy. It’s important that you’re aware that your puppy shouldn’t be jumping, weaving, or training on full-size equipment when they are at this age.
Making It Fun
When it comes to participating in dog agility, both you and your dog need to enjoy yourselves.
Bearing this in mind, you should only do it a bit at a time and even when your dog gets older, it should be little and often to ensure you’re both enjoying it as much as possible.
Dogs are at the peak of their agility career from four to six years of age, so it’s important to think about the bigger picture.
Ensuring Their Safety Is A Priority
Your dog’s safety should always be your first priority when it comes to agility training, and there are necessary precautions that you should take to ensure this.
You will want to make sure that when you first start agility training with your puppy, that they never jump full height or climb on full-height contact, and avoid doing closed weaves before they mature and develop into adulthood.
This comes down to the fact that puppy’s growth plates are still open, and you don’t want to cut their agility career short by pushing them too hard.
Agility is meant to be a fun exercise to help them maximise their potential, but it’s crucial that they remain physically healthy and safe while doing so.
Benefits Of Dog Agility Training
Agility Training Is An Excellent Form Of Exercise
Agility training is a fantastic way of helping to strengthen your dog’s muscles, keep them fit, and increase their endurance in ways that simply walking them doesn’t.
If your dog has a tonne of energy, agility is an excellent method to burn off your dog’s excess energy.
Agility Training Helps To Strengthen The Bond You Have With Your Dog
While playing with your dog and walking your dog are great ways of bonding with your dog, agility training takes bonding to a whole new level.
Your dog must rely on verbal and hand instructions from you to navigate and complete agility courses, and over time, the trust between you and your dog will only increase because of this.
If you have trust with your dog, the bond between you becomes much stronger.
This, in turn, will help improve your communication, reinforce obedience commands, and will improve your dog’s overall behavior outside of agility training.
Agility Training Helps To Fulfil Your Dog’s Natural Instincts
Dogs are natural hunters, and running through a course over a number of different obstacles works to fulfil their natural instincts of jumping over fallen logs, and squeezing through vegetation to catch their prey.
Agility courses are designed to mimic these sorts of hunting situations and fulfil the chasing desires of your dog.
Agility Allows You To Get Fit
Agility isn’t just great exercise for your dog, it’s a workout for you too! As their handler, you will need to run alongside them and assist them as they complete the agility course.
While you are encouraging and assisting your dog to fly over jumps, crawl through tunnels, and weave through poles, you will also be breaking a sweat. It’s a work out for the both of you!
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