Agility Training for Beginners
This article is written by one of our in-house veterinarians, Dr Elise Barry BVSc.
Have you ever wondered if Agility training might be suitable for your pooch? Find out more as our very own Dr Elise shares her experience with her rescue dog Rumpold.
Rumpold is a rescue dog from The Lost Dogs Home in North Melbourne. He is a very anxious dog, with noise phobia (fear of loud noises like garbage trucks and buses) and has the desire to chase anything that moves quickly (like skateboards and motorbikes to name just a few). Some of this is due to poor socialising as he has had many homes before we rescued him, however there is also a genetic basis for his behaviour. Being part herding dog means he is engineered to chase everything and wants to be put to work. We quickly realised that keeping him occupied and busy is the best way to curb any untoward behaviour.
Rumpold is an intelligent dog with the memory of an elephant. He remembers absolutely everything whether it is how to get to a park he’s visited once or checking a location he found food in months ago.
Following his adoption we decided to enrol him in a basic manners and introduction to agility course to help us cope with his anxiety and unsocial behaviour. Most local dog clubs will run a course like this and it was a great building block to develop Rumpold's training and improve his behaviour.
We learned basic commands like 'sit', 'stay', 'drop', 'look' and 'come', which we have found to be very useful tools for getting Rumpold's attention and keeping him focused.
As we got to know Rumpold, we discovered that he has a fondness for agility. The skills that he learned in the basic manners course helped lay the foundation for beginning basic agility training. We introduced agility to Rumpold by simply taking him over the obstacles led by a treat in our hand. He quickly followed and took to this activity like a duck to water.
It’s a great way to physically and mentally tire him out as well as being great fun. Once Rumpold completed his basic manners course and graduated as doggy dux (as he was the only graduate on the day) the next step involved enrolling him in agility training.
Agility clubs are found in most suburbs and are a great support network for you and your dog. As Rumpold approaches adolescence the basic obedience training and enjoyment that he gets from agility have been extremely beneficial.
We’ve learnt many problem solving skills for his teenage tantrums while also allowing him to socialise with other dogs. Not only has it improved his anxiety and phobias but it has also allowed him to get active and fit.
Although training will be required for life we now have a foundation to improve on these skills. Obedience and agility training is a good way to help you bond with your dog, understand their actions and curb any unwanted behaviour; all while having some great fun.
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