Border Collie and Golden Retriever Activities
DOG TRAINING IN HAMPSHIRE AND SURREY
PET TRAINING, FUN AGILITY, CLICKER TRAINING, 1-2-1 LESSONS
Learning the Seesaw
Agility was born in 1978 as a novelty event to entertain the crowds in the big ring at Crufts in the gap between the end of the Obedience Championship and the Breed Group judging. Agility was an instant hit and soon became a competitive sport in its own right.
Tigris in full flight
Over the years the obstacles have changed somewhat and the rules have become refined, today the sport is contested at the highest level by dedicated enthusiasts and highly bred and trained dogs. At the top level, border collies dominate the sport but hundreds of agility fans enjoy training for pleasure and lower levels of competition with a wide variety of breeds. At agility events there are classes for ABC (anything but collies) and also mini agility classes for smaller dogs.
Rebekah at nearly 10 years, showing the youngsters how it is done
Agility is sometimes referred to as "show jumping for dogs" and there is some truth in that, but it is not just about clearing a course of jumps against the clock. An agility course consists of "obstacles" arranged into a course by the judge, the competitors run their dogs around the course tackling each obstacle in the correct order and competing for the clear round in the fastest time.
Agility is a sport of speed and accuracy
The obstacles are not just jumps but include a high level "dog walk", an "A frame", a rigid tunnel and a floppy tunnel as well as a table, a "tyre" and weaving poles. To ensure that the dogs do not treat the obstacles with reckless speed some of the obstacles have "contacts", areas at the beginning and end of the obstacle, dog must tread on the contacts otherwise points will be lost. The contacts are painted a different (lighter) colour to make it easier for the judge to see whether the dog touches the contacts or not.
Rebekah through the tyre
If you want to start in agility with your dog your first port of call should be a local agility club, ring the secretary or instructor there and discuss your dog, the level of training you currently have and any health or fitness problems that your dog may suffer - agility is a physically demanding sport even at a fun level. Ask if you can come to watch the training and talk to people with experience, you may be invited to take you dog down so that she can be assessed for fitness and obedience.
In competition the jumps are
Like most performance sports, agility needs to be approached properly, poor control and lack of restraint can lead to accidents and injuries. You may be advised to join a local dog training organisation for a few months before starting agility because you and your dog need a little more time to practice basic control. Such advice is for your own good and should be taken seriously, dogs (especially border collies) love agility, they can become over enthusiastic to the point of reckless and become a danger of themselves and others.
Lots of Golden Retrievers love a challenge too
Most training organisations have classes for beginners and if the instructor is satisfied that you are ready to begin agility classes you will be enrolled in the appropriate class. You will need good basic obedience such as a solid "lie down", "wait" and "come" before you are ready to even start thinking about taking up agility at a fun level.
Never push a young dog over full height jumps
If you wanted your child take up gymnastics you wouldn't rig up a collection of junk in the lounge and start tying to teach them yourself based only on what you have seen Olympic athletes doing on a sports programme on television.
DO NOT GO OFF AND START MESSING AROUND WITH YOUR OWN VERSION OF AGILITY AT HOME WITHOUT PROPER INSTRUCTION OR INFORMATION, YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR DOG AT RISK!
Some jumps are very fancy!
The advice and information here is aimed at the complete novice and if you do try your hand at agility you should do so with the help and advice of an agility club or experienced instructor who will be able to get you off to a safe and sensible start.
Mastamariner Red Duster
Once you know what you are doing most equipment can be made at home quite cheaply (if you are fairly handy) and you don't need a full course of competition standard obstacles to practice - However all obstacles must be stable and robust otherwise your dog may become frightened and reluctant to trust even competition quality equipment.
Training takes time and patience
Remember that dogs can get very carried away when they are enjoying themselves, like human athletes they can overdo things and injuries sustained, particularly in youth, can dog a dog for the rest of her life. Be aware of minor strains and stresses on joints and muscles, ensure that your dog only runs when she is 100% fit.
Caristan Cider of Mastamariner in full flow
Dry hard ground in the summer can be the equivalent of jumping your dog on concrete, lower the jumps and reduce the speed. Never set the jumps with very tight turns, this puts an unacceptable strain on the spine and can cause injuries to dew claws and shoulder muscles, agility should be fun not a punishment routine.
Mastamariner Jane Marple over the long jump
Where a young dog is concerned it is particularly important to progress slowly and very carefully, keep the jumps low and don't train on the weave until until at least 15 months of age. In agility, control and partnership are the most important elements, you will have quite enough to do teaching your young dog to stop, lie down and come on command, without overdoing stressful exercises with young limbs and muscles.
Up and Over
If you want to compete;
Through the floppy tunnel
Common sense tips for Agility
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