Agility can be a face paced, fun, mentally and physically exhausting exercise for your dog. It's one of the fastest growing dog sports today. It's not just for the border collies either, almost any dog can do agility. Just be sure to check with your vet that your dog can handle the physical stress this sport can cause on limbs and joints, use caution with older or overweight dogs.
What can agility teach your dog?
Increased Stamina & Balance
You'll never find a straight agility course, you'll find they curve this way and that. Often twisting round and round, often going over many of the same obstacles in a difficult order. Why does this help your dogs balance? Have you ever tried running as fast as you can in a straight line? It's easy right? How about running as fast as you can, while quickly changing direction. That's a bit more difficult, add the obstacles and it's the perfect recipe to build stamina balance.
How does your dog know what obstacles to go over, in what order, and when? Answer: You. You're the one telling the dog what it's supposed to be doing, in order to increase the speed of your run, you must work on communication. Practicing on many courses will teach the dog the importance of listening to it's handler to make the right turns and complete the course in the correct order. The more complicated the course gets, the better and better the communication has to be to achieve a flawless run.
Let's say you're a 30lb dog, your handler is asking you to approach an A-Frame that is several times your height. Do you obey your handler and climb the steep A-Frame or do you refuse and go around?
It doesn't just take training to get a dog to get a dog to go over, under, or through obstacles. They don't understand what these objects are, and to ask a dog to jump, climb, or go through an unknown obstacle can be a scary request. To achieve the speed and accuracy in the beginning stages of agility training requires trust, it can be a great tool to get a dog to trust you in new situations.
Agility is a precision sport, especially in competition, every second counts. If properly nurtured, not only your dogs but your own skills will improve. As you build the communication with your dog, it will be honing balance, trust, and speed, and you will be learning footwork, balance, and leadership.
Still not convinced? Did I mention that stimulating a dog mentally as well as physically will wear them out two to four times faster than with physical stimulation alone?