Tomorrow is my second agility trial with my dog Josie. The last (and first) one was a year ago when I was pregnant! This year my son will be watching!
I love dog agility! First of all its FUN! It’s hard at first and takes some work to get the basics down but you can start doing basic courses pretty quick. Its not only fun for you, the handler, but its fun for the dog as well. Many have a blast running agility. They seem to be smiling as they are running. They get out of the house, get to do something that combines work and play and then they get rewarded for it!
Second its work. Its work for you and the dogs, and we all need work. something that takes effort but yields results. We as humans crave it, and I think dogs crave it even more. They need work to feel fufilled, and to feel happy and for many agility fills this roll. There are dogs who purely train for fun, its just something cool their owner saw and decided to try. Other dogs are bred for the purpose of being champion agility dogs, they LIVE agility. Almost all dogs can benefit from the work of agility, it gives them something to live for at the end of the day and something to do. Dogs are much more balanced when they have a job, agility is one of Josie’s jobs.
Training in a dog agility can help with behavior issues in a plethora of ways. First it helps with basic obedience as in the beginning thats all it is. The handler says “over” dog jumps over. That simple. When the dog is rewarded for listening in agility they get better at listening in other situations too. They learn that listening is the right thing to do and can be fun (and even can get you treats)! It helps with dogs that are bored. Boredom is a widespread issue in dogs. They need work, and when they get it, they are happier. They have no need to find “work” at home such as digging or chasing, or “herding”. When they work hard they are also to tired to get into trouble! They would rather sleep then chew something up if they have spent all their energy running around or are mentally exhausted from leraning! A tired dog is a good dog! Finally training in agility can give confidence to scared dog. Many dogs have been though rough stuff, and they believe the world is a bad place and is out to get them. In agility as dogs do what’s right they get rewarded, and as that happens they learn they as a dog, are ok. They become confident and capable and that can help fight a number of anxiety based behavior issues.
Agility aslo deepens your relationship with your dog. They have to learn how to better understand you and you must learn how to better understand them. Watching a close knit team is amazing. All the handler has to do is is move one hand or even just a shoulder and the dog immediately reacts. A good handler will know how their dog is likely to react in certain situations and can plan ahead for them and train to help with them. You learn how dogs read body movement and how intensely they can listen if they need to. A whisper and they change their course. It brings human and dog closer together, which I think is the point of dogs in the first place. They are here for us to be companions, companions that can help us in many areas, but formost they are our friends. Agility can deepen that friendship.
Agility has deepened my relationship with my first and most favorite dog, Josie. She’s my baby girl and she always will be. We’ve been training in dog agility for nearly 2 years now and its been great. She’s in the best shape of her life and she’s happy! Tomorrow will more be a celebration of that for us, then stiff competition. Do I want to do well? Hell Yeah! Does it matter, not one bit! All that matters is that Josie and I have fun together.