Bonding With Your Rescue Dog: Agility Equipment & Other Fun Options
With more than 3 million dogs being abandoned each year, rescuing a furry friend from an animal shelter is one of the kindest acts anyone can do. Of course, the person who rescues a dog obviously will enjoy the companionship of a loyal friend, so both parties definitely benefit. With that said, those first few days or weeks together can be a bit tricky as you work to build a strong bond between the two of you.
Rescued dogs often are quite shy and uncertain about their new surroundings, and it can take a little bit of time until they really learn to trust their new family. In some cases, your new friend might have suffered from abuse and neglect, which can make it even harder to establish a strong bond.
Believe it or not, obedience training can be a perfect way to establish trust, and this definitely can include dog agility training. After all, when your dog understands what you expect, it's easier for he or she to adapt to the new environment. When we talk about obedience training or dog agility training, you might think that this is too harsh for a rescued pet, but with a gentle hand and lots of encouragement, training can be a perfect way to bond.
Before your rescue dog comes home, it is essential that you spend some time thinking about the house rules and your dog agility training regime. Write down a list of commands you wish to teach and have everyone in your family participate. Every member of the family needs to be consistent with training in order to achieve the greatest degree of success.
Of course, you also will want to doggie-proof your home and make sure you have essential items on hand, such as dog food, dog bowls, a leash, a collar with an ID tag, some treats and perhaps a dog toy or even a dog bed. If you wish, you also can purchase a dog crate and use crate training techniques to ensure good bathroom habits and perhaps as a safe place for your dog when you leave the house. When it comes to agility equipment, you probably will want to hold off on purchasing equipment for a few weeks as you will want to have your new dog's health checked out by a veterinarian and will want to gauge whether or not the dog has the energy level suited for dog agility training.
Most healthy dogs will enjoy using agility equipment, and if your vet gives you a clean bill of health, it will be safe for dogs of all ages to enjoy dog agility training. Some breeds, such as those prone to breathing issues, are not ideal options for agility. Likewise, if your dog seems to fairly lackadaisical, agility might not be a great match. However, for a dog with lots of energy, dog agility is a great way to keep your dog happy and in great shape, not to mention improving overall obedience.
You can begin training almost from the moment that you bring your rescued dog home. Some rescue dogs already know basic commands, but most do not, which is actually why many dogs end up in shelters in the first place. Simply be firm but calm when you say no, and provide tons of praise anytime your dog behaves correctly.
To help increase the bond, you will want to spend a great deal of time with your new dog. Take your dog on walks, play with your dog or just spend time gently petting your dog or brushing your dog. If possible during those first weeks, take your dog everywhere with you. Above all, be patient with your new friend and you will be greatly rewarded with a wonderful companion.
Play time is a great time for bonding, and this play time definitely can include using agility equipment. You can teach your new dog to jump through a tire jump or learn to sit and stay on the pause table. Jumps and the pause table typically are the least intimidating pieces of agility equipment. Sometimes the height of an A-frame and dog walk or the wobbly feel of a teeter can make a dog a bit nervous. It can be wise to save those pieces of agility equipment for later on during the training process.
Playing games such as tug and fetch or hide & seek also can be a great way to bond and a great way to increase obedience. After all, when they fetch, a dog is obeying a command and likewise, when you ask a dog to seek out a toy, they also are obeying a command. This can be a great strategy in the early days as you get to know one another, and learning simple games and simple commands will make dog agility training easier.
If you are searching for high-quality agility equipment, we have it all here at Carlson Agility. We offer individual pieces of agility equipment as well as handy starter kits. Additionally, if your rescue dog is a smaller breed, consider using our mini agility equipment. The mini equipment also is a great option for indoor dog agility training.