Agility helps to keep your dogs fit and prevent obesity which negatively impacts health and longevity. Several activities can be done at home to prepare your dog for agility obstacles. You can engage your dog’s interest and enthusiasm for the activity. In addition to agility, there are also basic skills that can be improved such as confidence which is beneficial to decreasing anxiety.
Here are the top 10 ways to practice agility at home with your dog
1. Create a Winning Environment
It's not important how quickly your dog learns these new commands since agility should be a fun learning experience for both of you. You can do this by starting off small and increasing expectations gradually. Some dogs might be ready to progress to the next level in a few weeks, but other dogs need more time. Whenever your dog achieves something, praise him and encourage him.
2. Increase your dog’s attention span.
Teamwork is a key component of agility. Dogs do not know which obstacle to take next without guidance from their handlers. In order for the training to be successful, dogs must learn to constantly focus on their handlers despite distractions and exciting surroundings. You should start in a quiet location where you are the most interesting thing around, and then slowly progress to environments that are more distracting.
3. Develop Training Techniques
Techniques like timing and reward placement can be improved through tricks. These will help your dog improve coordination and confidence and boost agility skills. Make your dog comfortable with unusual movements before introducing him to the real obstacles. Walk your dog backward, teach him to place his paws in a specific place, teach him to step on top of things, climb over them, and crawl through them. Using treats, instruct him to turn around an object tightly and to move away from you, or to the left and right.
4. Improve flexibility
Training dogs with tricks that increase flexibility is a great way to improve agility. For a start, spin prompts your dog to spin right or left, stretching both sides of his body. A bow can help stretch your dog's back.
5. Improve with handling your dog
A lot of what happens on an agility course depends on how the owner manages his or her dog. To begin, get your dog used to work on both sides of you. Alternatively, you can teach your dog to move away from you by moving to your left or right. As a final step, teach your dog to wrap around an object tightly. This is a good foundation for turning tightly and jumping between jumps.
Begin by rewarding your dog when he approaches the object and works him up to walking around it and returning to you.
6. Build on your dog’s body awareness
You can increase your dog's body awareness and build muscles by teaching him to balance on various surfaces. He can even crawl or step through a line of boxes you make.A ladder is a great option as well. Your dog will think about each step as he walks through it. Place a ladder flat on the ground and entice him by placing food lures or touching him. Once he is familiar with it, you can try to make him increase speed gradually.
7. Have your dog familiar with moving objects
One of the extreme obstacles for a dog is the seesaw or teeter. At first, it may seem stable until your dog climbs up and then bangs down to the other end. This is not something a dog might get used to easily. Train your dog with lower objects that move so he will get used to moving his paws and balance accordingly. You may use a skateboard, wobble board, or a child’s wagon. Encourage your dog to place his paw on the board and reward if he shows any interest to get a good start.
8. Overcome fear of darkness
Not all dogs have a problem running in a tunnel for the first time but some dogs have a really hard time getting into it because it’s dark. They need to get used to being in a covered space. You can buy an agility tunnel for your home or you can DIY with a blanket and chairs. You can also use an open cardboard box. Make sure that you cut the length short enough to avoid your dog getting overwhelmed by the darkness. Don’t force your dog and instead, use encouraging words and reward him once he obeys.
9. Jump practice
One of the critical agility skills is jumping. You can easily practice with your dog at home. Make sure the environment is safe for both you and your dog to avoid injury. Jumping high is not required in an agility competition so it’s okay even if the jump is low. Don’t rush your dog when he’s not ready and remember not to put pressure on him during training.
10. Start introducing weave poles
Training the weave poles is perhaps the most challenging obstacle to teach, and there are a lot of different approaches, so it is likely that you will need expert assistance to help your dog master this task. For a home version, you can make weave poles by setting up soccer cones or tomato stakes (or something similar) in rows outside.
You will always be your dog’s best buddy. Training together at home with your dog often is easier and more fun because it's a familiar environment and you enjoy each other's company. Take your time and don’t rush your dog and you’ll both reap the benefits. Dogs are very intelligent and intuitive, so by putting your trust in them, they’ll feel comfortable and confident. These 10 tips are a fun and engaging way to introduce agility training to your dog as well as provide health benefits for both you and your dog.
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