5 Fun Agility Activities For Your Dog
Most folks think that agility training is only for professional athletes and their dogs. However, there are several benefits to teaching your canine some basic agility activities.
It will help improve your pups’ physical fitness, provide mental stimulation, increase body awareness, and strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
Here are five agility activities that you can teach your dog. They’ll amaze you with what they can do with a bit of practice!
Benefits of Agility Training
Agility training offers numerous benefits for both dog and owner. It is an excellent form of physical exercise for high-energy breeds, but it also teaches them body awareness focus, improves their overall well-being, and provides mental stimulation.
It also gives the handler a decent workout and is an excellent way for dog owners to meet others and socialize if they choose to attend classes.
Of course, there are plenty of practice exercises you can do together at home to get some practice in, so let’s dive in and see what fun agility activities you can enjoy together!
Before You Start – The Basics
A lot of agility prowess depends on how the owner handles the dog, so it stands to reason that your pup must have basic obedience before tackling the course. It’s vital to keep their attention on you and not on what is happening around them.
You can try some impulse control exercises when your pup is young and teach them to walk by your side and interchange when required.
Another consideration is body awareness; It’s surprising for many to learn that dogs are not born with this; it comes with practice. You can help them by getting them to crawl under things, place their paws on items such as an upturned bucket or simply step over the rungs of a ladder laid flat.
These things will help prepare your dog for when the serious training starts. See the guide by DogsBarn, where they show a variety of exercises and equipment ideal for beginners who want to try agility to see if they enjoy it before committing to shows and events.
5 Agility Activities to Teach Your Pup
1. Wobble Boards
You won’t be able to master agility in 10 minutes; it takes a lot of practice and dedication. Wobble boards are a terrific way to build your dog’s core strength and improve their balance, preparing them for tackling unstable surfaces like the seesaw on an agility course.
Balance boards are available online. You can also make your own fairly quickly; this short video shows how to make a doggy balance board, or to start with, you can use a sofa cushion. Start slowly, encouraging your pup to place their front paws on the surface and rewarding them with treats when they comply.
Eventually, they will get the hang of it and be able to hold their position standing fully on the board. This exercise will make tackling teeter-totters and walk planks much easier in the future.
2. Tricky Tunnels
Not many dogs will enter an unknown dark space, so tunnels take your pup out of their comfort zone. However, the good news is that tunnels are not as intimidating as they first seem with a bit of practice and some tasty treats.
You can purchase tunnels in pet stores and online relatively cheaply, or you could use a child’s play tunnel (although these can be flimsy). However, like most agility equipment, you can also make your own.
Utilizing pop-up laundry hampers, with the bottom removed, attaching some parachute fabric to small children’s hula hoops, or even setting up some dining chairs with a sheet draped over them.
Starting with a short option and using treats encourage Fido to come through the tunnel; as they become more experienced, try adding some twists and turns to up the ante.
3. Master The Weave
One of the more challenging obstacles on the course, the weaving poles, takes a lot of practice, so it’s good to start early. Place a few household items such as tin cans or plastic bottles indoors or some tomato stakes or bamboo poles outside 24 inches equidistant apart.
Your dog must enter the poles between the first and second one on his left-hand side. This activity can take 2-3 months of daily practice to master; it isn’t easy.
Also, take into account that fast weaving puts immense pressure on your dog’s spine and shoulders, so it’s essential not to attempt weaving until your pup has fully grown, as it can cause severe damage.
Hoopers is becoming increasingly popular as it involves the fast-paced excitement of agility without the tight turns and risks making it ideal for any dog breed.
Going through hoops, tunnels, and around barrels instead of jumping over hurdles makes it a fantastic low-impact exercise for puppies from 6 months of age and older dogs who may suffer from joint issues.
As with any interactive activity, hoopers strengthen the bond between dog and owner with the added benefit of keeping your pup fit and active.
5. Getting the Hang of Hurdles
Most dogs love to run and jump, so this activity is relatively easy to train; you just have to start with low jumps, especially for smaller dogs, and raise the height slightly as they become more accustomed to the exercise.
You can buy either standard hurdles or tire jumps online, but it’s pretty easy to construct your own with a few poles. Start with a straight run and leave twists and turns until they are more competent.
Before teaching agility jumping, it’s essential to check with your veterinarian whether your pup should be jumping?
Puppies under 18 months of age shouldn’t be doing high-impact exercises. Some dogs with physical limitations, health issues, and breeds with long backs like Dachshunds and Bassett Hounds should avoid this exercise altogether.
Agility training is a great way to keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated. You can do most things at home with some simple exercises that we’ve outlined for you, or take it to the next level by enrolling in an agility class.
Agility equipment is readily available online, but it’s straightforward to construct tailored obstacles at home, so why not try making your own.
Remember always to use caution when exercising your dog. Avoid high-risk activities for both puppies, older dogs, and ones with medical conditions, and never force them into anything they aren’t comfortable with.
You never know, you may have a future champion on your hands, and if not, you will both still have a fun and rewarding agility activities experience.