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Learning Center!

Introduction to Agility

Can my dog do agility?
Baby steps in training
Basic Do's and Don'ts

Overview of the obstacles
Training Tips for each obstacle
What to Call Each Obstacle

Help with dogs that are slow, scared, stubborn and crazy!

Joining a class
Entering a competition

General Rules

The organizations
Groups, discussion boards etc.

Baby Steps in Training

The best way to introduce your dog any of the obstacles is to hold his leash with one hand while holding a yummy treat in front of him (be careful he doesn't get it early!). As soon as he gets to the other side of the obstacle, give him the treat and lots of praise. Another way (better for the tunnel) is to have a friend hold your dog on one side while you are on the other. Call your dog with an excited voice, and when he is focused on you have your friend let go. Then give lots of praise (and the treat) when he successfully completes the obstacle. Timing of the rewards is important. For very hesitant dogs, you may have to give rewards a bit sooner, like at the top of the dogwalk, in addition to the bottom, for example, until their confidence is built up.

It's best to not encourage speed at first. Concentrate on safety and accuracy. Speed can come later, as it's easier to train your dog to speed up than to slow down. Many fast dogs miss "contact zones" and develop bad habits that are harder to break later on.

In the very beginning it's best not to shout to your dog the obstacle names (like jump, tunnel, etc.). You can do so quietly, but don't focus on that too much in the introduction phase. Your dog is just learning the obstacles and if he keeps messing up, you don't want him to associate the obstacle with something negative. Remember to have fun, be patient, go slow, and don't discourage your dog. Go back to baby steps if your dog at any point develops any fears, even if it just means sitting and playing with your dog near the obstacle! Keep his interest with a confident and happy voice (practice making it silly - dogs love this voice), don't over-drill your dog until he gets tired, and always end on a positive note. These are just a few of the starter tips to successfully training the obstacles.

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