All dogs must get exercise for their physical and mental well-being. You know this…. but like many others, perhaps you don’t like walking your dog when the weather is awful, or may not have a large home or backyard for the dog to run around. Do you feel guilty that you are not providing enough activity for your pet?
Here’s a really fun solution that will get both you and your dog moving and working together. Try Dog Agility!
Dog agility is a popular canine sport where you, as the handler, direct your dog through a variety of obstacles such as a tunnel, weave poles, hoops, an A frame, standard jumps, etc.
You can go at your own pace with your dog, moving slower or faster through the agility course and do it simply for the sheer fun and exercise it provides. However if you and your dog are fast and agile moving through the obstacles, you may discover that you want to take it to the next level and start competing. During competitive agility events, handlers attempt to navigate dogs through a course as quickly and as accurately as they can.
There are some really great benefits of agility training for your dog.
1. It fulfills your dog’s natural instincts.
Evolving from wolves, dogs are natural hunters, with the instinct to chase and run after a variety of prey. Their natural behavior is to pursue a possible meal. While in pursuit of food, dogs must often follow rabbits and foxes through a forest and navigate through a variety of barriers. Their natural instincts involve jumping over fallen logs, climbing up steep slopes, and squeezing through bushes and vegetation. Since the end goal is to catch up with prey, time is of the essence and the faster a dog runs, the better their chances of ending up with a satisfying meal. Agility courses are designed to mimic these types of natural scenarios and fulfill the hunting and chasing desires of your dog.
2. Agility is great exercise for your dog.
Agility is a great way to get rid of your dog’s excess energy. Running through a course that involves passing over and through a variety of obstacles will challenge your dog’s mind and body. Involving your dog in agility will help to strengthen his muscles, improve coordination, keep him fit, and increase endurance.
3. Agility will help you get in shape, too!
As the handler, you will be running alongside your dog, and assisting him with soaring over jumps, weaving through poles, and crawling out of collapsed tunnels. While you and your dog compete to swiftly finish the course, you will be treated to a heart-healthy cardiovascular workout.
4. It helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog
Agility courses are set up so that dogs would not be able to complete them without the help of the handler. As the dog must rely on the verbal and hand instructions from the handler in order to navigate the course, the trust between owner and dog will be increased. Helping your dog to pass through agility obstacles will help reinforce basic obedience commands, improve dog/owner communication, and ultimately help to improve your dog’s behavior outside of the agility course.
Find out more about the sport and where you and your dog can learn how to do it, by looking up “dog agility” on your computer or by researching it at your local library.
Next time, we’ll talk about cats. No, we haven’t forgotten about them.