You’ve probably seen dog agility before — the sport where dogs zoom around an obstacle course, flying over jumps and through tunnels, side-by-side with their handler. It’s one of the most popular dog sports around, and it’s a thrill to watch.
But what if competition isn’t quite your thing? No worries! While agility is a competitive sport, you don’t have to set your sights on competition to get the benefits.
What type of dogs can do agility?
When most people think agility, the first breeds you may think of are speed-of-light Border Collies, Aussie Shepherds and Shelties.
But really, any dog is an agility dog! Provided your pup is healthy, they’ll have a blast learning new things, running around, and most importantly doing something fun with you.
What are the benefits of agility for dogs?
- Outlet for physical and mental energy
As you can probably guess, agility is great for helping your dog release their energy in a safe, fun way.
Particularly for breeds with high drive and bucket loads of energy, dog agility is perfect for letting them run at full speed, focused on the task at hand. It helps build lean muscle, strengthen joints and improve your dog’s coordination.
And a secondary (though no less important) benefit is the mental energy release — after even a short session of agility practice, you’ll often have one tired pup.
- Helps build your dog’s confidence
A confident dog is a happy dog, and there’s no better way to build a dog’s confidence than to work together with you, their human.
Agility training can help your dog get over fears of unusual surfaces, small spaces, ‘scary’ situations, and completing tasks without being right by your side.
Plus, they’ll be rewarded after every exercise, run and session with their absolute favourite thing (more about rewarding your dog here), helping them build their confidence and trust in themselves even more — you can even see some dogs’ reaction after they’ve nailed a course, feeling that ‘hell yeah, I did it!’ moment.
The confidence built while practicing agility will even transfer over into other parts of your dog’s life too, whether that be confidence in new situations or meeting new people and dogs.
- Great for developing self-control
Given the chance, most untrained dogs will run to whatever obstacle, or task, they find most attractive at the time.
Some dogs are crazy about tunnels, and others nuts about seesaws and jumps. Others just like to run anywhere at top speed!
In doing agility practice, whether it be with or without equipment, your dog will learn to harness their self control and commit to the task that you’re asking them to do.
- Helps with distraction training
No matter whether you train agility at home or at an agility training facility, your dog will need to get used to distractions they might not face in everyday life.
Take the agility hall, for example: there could be dozens of (probably barking) dogs, people walking around, noises and new smells — and your dog still has to focus on their job of running the course.
Over time, your dog will be able to ignore distractions in day-to-day life much easier too.
- Strengthens the dog’s natural instincts
Think about what an agility course involves: running over and under different obstacles of all shapes and sizes, changing direction and focusing on a changing goal. It’s a little like dogs running through the forest, chasing after prey. Running an agility course strengthens that goal-oriented instinct and builds their natural drive.
What about the benefits for the handler?
- Realistically, the benefits of agility for the dog are benefits for you too — seeing your dog confident, happy and having fun is all we can ask for as dog owners.
But there’s more to it than that!
- You’ll have greater trust & confidence in your dog
When you work with your dog in agility, you build a level of trust and confidence that you wouldn’t likely get otherwise. Trust around other dogs, people and situations that would otherwise be a source of stress.
Agility helps build your bond with your dog, to develop an almost magical connection and lifelong friendship. Seeing your dog happy, loving their life and learning new things is all a dog owner can ask for — and doing fun things together is the way to get exactly that!
How to get started with agility
You don’t have to go to an agility hall to get started with Agility training. You can start building the basics (and having awesome fun) from home!
A great option for those looking to get started is OneMind Dogs online course, Foundation for Agility. It’s a super simple, step-by-step course that builds all the skills you and your dog need — whether you’re looking to pursue agility as a sport, or just to have a fun time learning together.
Better yet, the course comes with personal support from a team of qualified coaches, who are there to help you and your dog succeed in your training.
Sound good? You can grab a free trial here.