Posts Tagged ‘dog park agility’

Dog Agility 101

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Whether you and your pooch are just looking to have some fun at the dog park, or want to compete in agility competitions, first impressions to dog agility training are key. Dogs who are properly introduced to agility components are more likely to use them again and have fun! No matter what age, breed, weight, or temperament, agility can benefit your dog in so many ways! From increased focus, helping with behavior issues such as lack of confidence and/or anxiety, and creating a stronger bond between yourself and your dog through teamwork!

Start Slowly with Enthusiasm!

Fido’s first exposure to agility components should be extra fun and super positive! Now is not the time to worry about them perfecting their weave pole speed, or teeter totter skills, but rather a time for them to become acquainted with the idea of engaging with the components. Let your dog’s curiosity lead the way during the introduction; they will probably sniff the heck out of it, and possibly pee on it, which is a part of the “getting to know each other” process. If they interact with the agility components on their own (like walking though a Bow Wow Barrel without a prompt), give positive reinforcement through praise, pets, and treats. If your dog seems hesitant about the agility components, don’t rush them – rather praise and treat them when they go near the equipment. You want to encourage your dog to view these components as fun, and that they are rewarded by engaging with them.

Next Steps

Once your dog feels comfortable with agility components, its time to get moving! Trying out agility components may or may not happen on your dog’s first exposure; you be the judge of whether they’re ready or not. Depending on where you are (a dog park with agility components, your own backyard, or a dog agility facility), you’ll have to gauge potential distractions. Try to avoid a busy time of day when other dogs may distract your pup from using the agility pieces. Let’s break it down:

  1. Start with simple components, like a step up table or a single wall jump.  
  2. Use your dogs biggest motivator (treats, a toy, a tennis ball, verbal and physical praise, etc) to entice them through, over, under, or around the agility component.
  3. The first time around, you may want to leash your dog to help guide them (for example, if they were going to walk over a ramp or an A frame.  This will help your dog understand what they’re supposed to do, though you won’t need the leash for long. You may also guide them through the obstacle with treats or a toy.
  4. Once they’ve completed an agility event, praise and treat them like they are the best dog on earth (which they are)! Try each agility component for several minutes before moving on to the next. Be sure to take play breaks so their concentration doesn’t get overloaded. Learning new things is better when it’s fun!

Repeat Customer

Once your dog has a firm understanding of agility components, how can you help keep them interested and wanting to use them regularly? Depending on your dogs’ level of skill and interest, there are many ways to get keep them involved in agility. Got a naturally gifted canine athlete?  Join one of the many agility clubs across the country like USDAA, NADAC, or AKHA! These are serious and competitive organizations that can take a good agility athlete to the level of competitions. If you love how agility improves your dog’s behavior and crazy energy, but his skills need some improvement, find a local agility class. These are wonderful environments that will allow your dog to hone his skills, have fun and make new friends! Just think of how your pup will impress everyone at the dog park after a few classes! If you have a dog that isn’t at the level of classes or competition, keep going to the dog park and encouraging them to use the agility components. They may just surprise you with how fast they learn and progress!

Dog Parks Are For People Too!

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Dog parks are parks for people…with dogs!  Consider this: It’s a late Wednesday afternoon, and as soon as you get home from work, you greet your excited pup and head off to the dog park together. Though you’re tired from a long day, you want your 4-legged friend to have some time to exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and socialize with his furry pals. It’s important to you that your dog reap all the benefits of the dog park on a regular basis, but did you ever consider that it’s benefiting you as well? Read on…

Fresh Air – Truth: Most of us don’t get enough time outside in the fresh air. Between our jobs and hectic schedules, it can be challenging to get some quality outdoor time where you can feel the breeze on your face. While your dog plays, take a few moments to appreciate the great outdoors and take some deep, calming breaths. You’ll be amazed how a few lungfuls of oxygen can help with everyday stress. 

A New Hobby – More and more dog parks now feature agility equipment. If you and your pooch are looking for an exciting new hobby, train your dog to go through an agility course! You can work on improving time through the course, ignoring distractions, and working on advanced agility moves. Your dog will work hard mentally and physically, and you will get a kick out of how talented your dog really is. And just for some giggles, check out these dog agility bloopers.

Exercise – You know that exercise plays a vital role in the overall health of your dog, plus it makes him plain old happy. The same can be said for you! When you take a trip to the dog park with your best friend, take the opportunity to engage with him. By getting your heart rate up, you are taking care of your cardiovascular system and releasing endorphins at the same time.

Feel Good Hormones – Researchers have discovered that when we spend time with our pets, our bodies release a feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. This hormone played a key role in the bonded relationship we began with dogs thousands of years ago. So, while you’re playing fetch with your dog at the park, you’re releasing a hormone that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, and helps strengthen your bond with Fido that much more.

Socializing – Like us, dogs are very social creatures. They enjoy being part of a pack and love to greet every other dogs. They even “exchange business cards” by sniffing each other’s rear ends as they meet each other. Humans need socialization too, though it’s best you leave the rear ends of new friends alone.  If you make going to the dog park part of your lifestyle, you’ll inevitably start seeing some of the same people and get to know them and their dogs. Strangers become friends very quickly when you have dogs around to help break the ice.

A Change of Pace – Many of us are living hectic lifestyles in which we feel overworked and stressed. On top of that, we often spend too much time staring at electronic devices.  There is something to be said for unplugging. Dogs are the best teachers when it comes to living in the moment. Next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, head to the dog park and take 30 minutes with your best friend to unwind, unplug, and de-stress. You’ll feel refreshed and recharged when you head home!

Be the Wise Owl – Are you an amateur dog expert? If you have years of experience in training and caring for your own dogs, chances are you have invaluable tricks up your sleeves.  There are lots of new pet parents at the park, or even other folks like you, and it can be a fantastic opportunity to share resources and ideas.  You all may have answers when it comes to reputable veterinarians in the area, favorite chew toys, and basic obedience tips.

Giving Back – If you’re looking for a way to get involved in your community, dog parks are an excellent place to start. Many off-leash areas are run by volunteers who help with maintenance, clean up, and events. By volunteering, you’ll get to know similar minded people, and truly make a difference in your town. And if your community doesn’t have a dog park yet, consider starting your own group to fundraise and help improve the lives of people and their pets.

 

 


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