Benefits of Dog Agility Training
Without question, canines are still considered a top companion for humans with 48 million people in this country having at least one dog. Whether you have a docile lapdog or an energetic, overgrown pup, dog agility training can be an excellent way to bond with your four-legged pal. Additionally, dog agility can yield a ton of benefits for your dog.
First, a Closer Look at Dog Agility Training
On the most basic level, agility training for dogs involves navigating different obstacles and following commands by using speed, coordination, balance, and strength. Agility may involve a range of different actions and activities, such as weaving around objects, dashing through a tunnel, balancing across a narrow beam, or scaling up a steeply-pitched structure. The key is the dog must watch and follow the owner's commands as they work their way through different obstacles.
Agility training is often thought of as only a formal event that takes place during competition, on large-scale courses, and with large pieces of dog agility equipment. However, dog agility training can start at home with rudimentary techniques and a few basic tools, or a dog park in your community. Further, you don't necessarily have to have dog agility equipment to get started.
Which Breeds Excel with Dog Agility Training?
While dog agility training can be beneficial to pretty much all dogs on some level, some breeds truly shine in this type of activity. The American Kennel Club hosts an agility competition annually, and a lot of the same breeds tend to take top spots more often than others. A few dog breeds that do best with agility training include:
In general, dogs that belong to herding and sporting breed groups tend to do best as far as competition settings. These breeds are specifically bred to be attentive to their owners, follow commands, and handle physical challenges quite well. Nevertheless, all dogs can reap some benefits from dog agility training on the most basic levels, whether they ever enter a competition ring or not.
Top 5 Benefits of Canine Agility Training
Agility training is a highly admired competitive dog sport, but it can also be beneficial with or without competition involved. Take a look at a few of the most noteworthy benefits of dog agility training.
1. Improves a Dog's Mental & Physical Strength
Dogs are absolutely smart creatures, but they also need to learn how to make use of what their mind is capable of doing. Agility training does just that by exercising the dog's mind. During training, the dog must learn certain things if it wants the end reward, such as:
How to recognize the owner's cues and follow instructions
How to avoid distractions and focus on a clear goal
How to solve problems using skills they already possess
The more agility training a dog undergoes, the "smarter" they usually seem to become. Essentially, the dog's mental focus and capability are sharpened.
Physical strength building is another major benefit of dog agility training. Running through different obstacles is quite the athletic challenge for a canine. This can help them get fit, stay in shape or lose weight, and improve bone, joint, and muscle strength. This can mean fewer health problems as the dog gets older and possibly even a longer life span.
2. Builds a Dog's Confidence
Dogs are born with natural abilities to navigate through tricky situations. However, dogs—much like humans—can also be anxious about unfamiliar situations. Dog agility training is one of the easiest ways to encourage a more confident dog that does not get so anxious when faced with a new challenge or potential distraction.
For example, dogs can be anxious about placing their paws on an unfamiliar or oddly textured surface or even being in a small space. But, agility training guides dogs through these anxious reactions and shows them how good it feels when they accomplish a new feat. The dog basically learns to trust their own abilities in the process. Additionally, dogs also gain more confidence in their owners, which can mean a better-behaved dog overall.
3. Strengthens A Dog's Natural Instincts
An agility course can involve many activities that mimic what the dog would naturally do in the wild to survive. Many dogs have natural-born tendencies to chase after prey. In the wild, the prey would be the prize, but in agility, the prize is possibly treats and positive attention from the owner. A few examples of activities involved in dog agility training that can hone a dog's natural instincts include:
Finding a way around intricate obstacles
Determining how to balance on a narrow walking surface, King of the Hill or Dog Walk
Slipping into a crawl tunnel or burrow and getting through to the end opening
Changing directions rapidly in weave posts or focusing on a moving goal
When dogs have well-nurtured natural instincts and a way to use those instincts, they become more confident, happy creatures.
4. Increases Endurance
Dog agility training is not limited to just puppies or dogs of a certain age. Dogs of just about all age groups can benefit from the exercise because of the physical effects. However, if you have a dog that gets worn out quickly, agility training can help them gain more endurance when done on a regular basis. Remember, it is always good to start with simple stints of training and work your way up to longer, more challenging courses. Also, younger dogs will likely be able to spend more time in training because they tend to have more energy to expend.
5. Creates a Strong Relationship with the Dog
Dog agility training requires an immense level of communication and interaction between the dog and the trainer. Training involves one-on-one play, encouragement, and fostering a sense of trust between you and your pet. This can easily strengthen the bond you have with your dog. You will gain a new appreciation for your pup and the pup will learn to trust your guidance and enjoy time spent with you. Not to mention, seeing your dog gain confidence and do something they obviously enjoy can be truly rewarding.
Get Started with Dog Agility Training
Dog agility training can start right in your own backyard or home, especially the simpler techniques. However, dog training facilities and dog parks often furnish their canine-inviting areas with dog agility equipment. Therefore, these locations can be excellent places to start training your dog.
Are you looking to build a well-outfitted dog park or training facility and need dog agility equipment? At BarkPark, we offer a full collection of dog agility equipment designed for comfort, safety, and fun. Be sure to check out our agility course collections that feature different equipment pieces to create the best experiences.