Agility Training Tips & Tricks
When it comes to training a dog, many people use treats to initiate a positive response from their pet. However, if you are interested in agility training, it is important to note that no treats or incentives are allowed during competition. A better option would be to train your dog to use agility equipment and teach obedience skills without the use of any incentives.
First of all, treats can be a good reward in the beginning and can be effective especially for puppies, but eventually you will have to remove treats or other incentives from the equation. There are certainly other ways to motivate a dog to follow directions and obey commands. Before you begin agility training and using agility equipment, think about the different types of “rewards” you can offer your dog as incentives to learn these new skills.
One thing to keep in mind during all types of training, whether it’s obedience training or agility training, is that these activities should be fun. Don’t look at training as a chore but rather as an exciting time for you and your dog. This is great bonding time, and every minute you spend training your dog is creating a stronger bond between the two of you.
There are several different non-treat rewards to consider and one is to incorporate play time into your agility training time. For instance, perhaps your dog loves to play fetch with a favorite toy. Begin a session with a quick game of fetch and then switch to a new “game,” which might be learning how to jump over an agility jump or perhaps using agility equipment such as a tunnel or chute. After your dog successfully completes a couple of jumps or runs through the chute, throw the toy again and let your dog fetch.
Your dog will begin to associate learning agility skills with fun and play, and this definitely can increase motivation. Eventually, as your dog masters a few skills, then separate the game of fetch from the equation or perhaps use the game as a reward for after the dog has completed the agility course successfully.
Praise and giving some pats are other ways to reward your dog for a job well done. Dogs love to please, so be sure to give plenty of positive of feedback. Positive is the key word with any kind of training. Training needs to be a positive experience, and your dog needs to be motivated to learn.
In addition, agility training needs to be consistent. This means you have to train often and use the same commands and signals every single time you are using the agility equipment. Sometimes it will take your dog a long time to learn a specific skill or how to use a certain piece of agility equipment. Be patient and positive and eventually your dog will figure it out. If necessary, figure out a different way to teach them the skill that is difficult.
It’s also a good idea to be prepared every time you have a training session. Think about your goal for that session. Focus on that goal and stick to it during the training time. Sometimes just being organized and focused is half the battle when it comes to agility training.
You also can reinforce some skills all the time, especially in the early days of obedience training and agility training. For instance, perhaps you are teaching a piece of agility equipment such as the pause table. On this item, your dog must sit and stay for an extended period of time. Sitting and staying is not just important for agility but also for daily life, so reinforce this obedience skill whenever possible. For instance, perhaps your dog loves to sit on your lap and enjoy some pets. Before you allow your furry friend up on your lap, have them sit and stay for a specific period of time. Then offer plenty of praise and use the lap time as a reward. Anytime you can associate positive behavior with a positive reward, your dog will be more likely to learn quickly and behave properly.
If you are ready to get started with agility training, check out our full line of quality agility equipment. We offer all types of agility equipment, including jumps, tunnels, chutes, a-frames, dog walks, weaves, pause tables and much more. We also have a full line of mini agility equipment ideal for puppies, small dogs and indoor training.