Dog agility training features an obstacle training course through which a handler directs a dog to achieve desired levels of accuracy and speed. Several types of obstacles are employed to elicit desired responses from a subject dog which will allow it to finish the course and, eventually, complete the training.
Finishing the course once does not necessarily mean that the training has been completed. The aim is not to finish the course per se but to develop a dog’s agility, precision and speed. A dog may have finished a course, but its responses may not be satisfactory. In such a situation another trip around the course is needed.
Dog agility training is specific, and if a dog does not know basic obedience yet, proceeding with the training is useless. Basic obedience training improves a dog’s temperament and increases its attention span, which will make it adapt better to the rigors of higher levels of training. Once basic obedience has been inculcated in the dog, the trainer can then focus on agility. Training of this type can begin at any age, as long as the dog’s health permits. However, extra care must be given to dogs less than a year old to prevent injuries to their underdeveloped joints. The dog may be subjected to simpler training aids and courses first, before moving up to more complicated ones.
Training techniques and equipment vary, and so do dogs’ responses. Maneuvering around or about some equipment are naturally more difficult than in others. A dog’s build and physical characteristics may also affect its ability to cope. Moreover, confident dogs are easy to train, but are susceptible to developing a cocky attitude which will render it “deaf” to its handler’s commands. Timid dogs, on the other hand, require more effort for them to overcome their shyness.
It is important to measure the response of a dog to the training. Dog agility training are not hit-and-miss sessions, but a complete, continuous course that does not discount repetition among its requirements. Thus a dog may become receptive or else regressive. To address the latter state, conditioning must first be done to avoid forcing a dog into a situation which it is not prepared to face. A dog must be fit enough to run, walk and jump whenever the handler commands it to. Otherwise the dog may get exhausted, shy away, or worse, fall sick.
It must be remembered that improving the pet-owner relationship is of paramount importance in dog agility training. A dog undergoing that training should feel satisfied and appreciated. A handler must be careful in pursuing his intended course of actions during training. Otherwise the opposite of what is intended to be achieved may just take place.