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Dog Agility Training & Competition

Getting Ready for Training:

If you have been seriously considering signing your dog up for agility training, then you should take the proper steps to prepare your k9 companion for what lies in store for them. Now what is dog agility you might ask? It’s a great sport that involves you and your dog, using teamwork towards a common goal. Not only is it quite entertaining to watch, it can be very addictive for the owner and dog alike, once both of you get the hang of it.

Now lets go through how it all works. The Handler directs their dog through an obstacle course of a-frames, weave poles, dog walks, tunnels, jumps, teeter totters, and chutes, in a race for accuracy and over all time.

You can’t however touch your dog or any of the obstacles that’s against the rules. There is also no use of a leash. You can only use visual and audible cues to direct your dog through the course.

Next you should factor in some tips about how to prepare your dog. This will be physical, Show your dog what it will be engaging in throughout any of the serious training. Also, what it will experience later on if you wanted to go into competitions. Ultimately if your paying for training, your instructor will always know when your dog is ready for competition. So, don’t rush towards that too quickly. Ensure your dog is fully trained and is in peak condition.

Getting Ready for Competition:

Obviously your dog needs to be fit, considerably attentive and don’t forget excited to give this their all. It’s also important that they’re jumping confidently to there full height. Unless of course you aren’t aiming for a specific size class for your dog to eventually compete in. Which means over sized obstacles, so the dogs can fit through and between them without knocking them down. Unless you are sure the competitions won’t included weaves. Then just be sure the dog is focused on your commands and excited to be there.

Your dog will also be required to complete full sequences of obstacles pretty fluently. So, remember to be fair to your dog these competitions are a measure of there competence in the sport. Don’t force them to compete prematurely, make sure they’re well prepared for what’s expected of them.

In Closing, it’s important to remember to have fun while doing this. If your not having fun, your dog will sense your tension. This can cause your dog to start acting up, and not following your directions correctly. Always remain calm, content, and over all remember to have fun.

Helpful Drills for Dog Agility Training:

Learning to handle your dog properly is a major role in dog agility training. This means communicating what you want your dog to do. Once your dog has the basics down, most errors that occur are due to the handler’s abilities. As a handler, you need to learn how to communicate what you want your dog to do or perform. One way to do that is to practice exercises that teach you how to better handle your dog.

Every dog has his own way of running the course. Some dogs need little guidance while others need the handler by their side at all times. By watching your dog and how much he relies on you to complete the course, you’ll be able to determine how much handling your dog needs.

To properly access the situation, try setting up two basic hurdles side by side and direct your dog to the right hurdle. Study your dog’s reaction as you send him to the hurdle. Does your dog leave your side or does your dog expect you to run or walk with him the entire way?

Then try making the course into an “S” shape where you’ll be starting on the inside line and crossing over in the middle so that you will stay on the inside line. Try first with a fast obstacle such as a hurdle, tunnel or series of hurdles in the center of the course. Send your dog over the hurdles and cross behind your dog so that you switch effortlessly.

Next, put a slow obstacle in the center of the course such as weave poles, a table or contact obstacle. Then continue with your dog until he gets to the downward edge of the contact obstacle. This will most likely be the second to last pole of the weaves. Cross in front of the dog and then continue him over to the next obstacle of the course.

Try handling your dog first using the inside line and then moving onto the outside line to get a proper feel for handling either side of the course. If you have a very fast paced dog, then you will have to slow him down while you take the outer line. Likewise, if you have a slower paced dog, then you may have to slow down on the inside line, then work on speeding your dogs performance.

The Sport of Dog Agility

Dog Agility is an international sport. Direct your dog through an obstacle course in a race against the clock to measure accuracy and completion. Neither the dog nor obstacles can be touched by the handler. Consequently the handler’s controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

The History of the Sport:

The sport’s roots can be traced back to the late 1970’s to a demonstration that was held at Crufts Dog Show in the United Kingdom. Dogs were required to run around a course designed similar to horse jumping courses during intermission as a way to entertain the audience. It has since spread rapidly around the world.

What is an Agility Course?

Agility courses consist of several standard obstacles laid out by a judge. All obstacles are staged by the judge in a specifically sized area. The surface may consist of grass, dirt, or a rubber like material. Depending on the type of competition, the obstacles may have a different order in which they must be completed.

Expectations of the Dog Handler:

In the beginning, courses can be a rather complicated task for your dog. For the dog to correctly complete a course without the direction and training of a handler, just aint gunna happen. In competitions, the dog handler must first observe the course, decide on the best strategies, and direct their dog. Precision and speed are equally important.

What are the Basic Obstacles of a Course?

An A-frame is 2 broad ramps hinged together and raised so that the hinged connection is above the ground, roughly forming an A shape.

The Dog walk is 3 planks that connect at the ends. The center plank is raised to above the ground; so that the other 2 end planks form ramps that lead up and down.

A Teeter-totter is a single plank that pivots on a fulcrum, much like the traditional seesaw. It is constructed off-balance so that the same end is always on the ground.

The Crossover is a square platform, with ramps that descend from 3 or 4 of its sides. The dog must ascend and descend the correct ramp while changing direction.

A Tunnel is a long vinyl tube, through which the dog runs. The tunnel is constructed of flexible vinyl and wire so that it can be set in a straight line or curvy.

The Different Competition Classes in Agility

Competition Classes in Agility:

Courses are designed by their own judges. They can also select from previously designed courses by using the rules of whom ever the funding organization. The course is laid out within a large area, with necessary distances between obstacles. Each class decides which dogs are worthy adversaries of achieving titles and how each task must be performed, but they all posses multiple similarities.

What are some common classes?

Junior courses are designed for the 18 and under crowd. These younger  dog handlers may compete with their k9’s at beginner, elementary, intermediate, and senior levels. Each section has more obstacles and generally gets harder the more you progress.

Standard and Regular courses are both numbered. They consist of at least one of three primary obstacles include jumps, tunnels, and several weave poles. A more advanced dog course might consist of as many as 22 obstacles. A more minimal course might offer only about 15. The dog must properly navigate the obstacles. This must be achieved in the correct order within the standard course time.

Jumpers or Jumping course is numbered. This consists primarily of various types of challenging jumps, weave poles, and tunnels. The dog must navigate the obstacles in the correct order within the standard time of the course. Most dogs will achieve their fastest speeds on this course because there are no contact obstacles in the way to slow them down.

Gambles, Joker, and Jackpot courses are all unnumbered. In the opening period, the dog has only so much time in which to conquer appropriate tasks. The points awarded are based on the obstacles that have been completed. A whistle is blown when time runs out for the opening period. That’s when the gamble begins. There’s approximately 15 seconds to complete the tasks and obstacles.

Power courses are not timed. This game features the contact equipment, weaves, table, a-frame, spread jump, and the long jump. If this section is navigated without receiving a penalty, the dog and handler are then allowed to advance to the Speed course, which consists of a timed jumping section.

In the end, of any competition course, the dogs and their handlers that have competed have earned either a rosette or a bronze, silver, or gold medal. With many available sets of obstacles and plenty of room for error, there are many classes of competitions that can be played on the fields of agility.

Want to be Healthier in 2011? Adopt a Dog!

The health benefits of owning a pet are well known – even watching a fish tank or stroking a cat can help lower blood pressure and create a sense of calm.  However, when it comes to the health benefits of having a pet, nothing is better than owning a dog!

According to the well-respected resource WebMD, the health benefits of owning a dog include:

1. Lower blood pressure
2. Reduce stress
3. Lower your risk for heart attacks
4. Lower your risk for strokes
5. Prevent and cure depression
6. Help keep you physically fit
7. Develop fewer allergies
8. Strengthen your immunity to allergies
9. Improve mental health
10. Build stronger bones

An overlooked way that owning a dog can help keep your wallet healthier is the savings in prescriptions and health care costs associated with illness.  Additionally, if you walk your dog twice daily, you’ll receive your daily recommended dose of cardiovascular activity.  To ramp up  that activity level, consider engaging in Florida dog obedience training, or even Florida Dog Agility Classes.  Both you and your pet will benefits from the physical activity involved in these training courses, and have fun while doing it!  Like any form of exercise, the key to keeping it up in having fun while doing it, and engaging in these types of activities with your pet are definitely enjoyable!

Whether you are a senior citizen living alone, a stay-at-home-parent, or a young single person, your health and happiness can increase considerably by bringing a canine companion into your household.  Don’t delay…  it’s just what the doctor ordered!

How to Train Smart Dogs

Any Florida dog training professional will tell you that you have to be creative when training a smart dog.  Smart dogs are able to sense and figure things out at a faster pace.  For instance, if a dog wishes to leave the yard, then your dog will find a way to leave the perimeter regardless of how secure it is.  Here are a few tips on how to train a smart dog.

Add Variety to Dog Training Exercises

When smart dogs are being trained it is essential to find new ways to keep them engaged while training.  Thus, play hide and seek games with dog treats.  Try agility classes to engage the physical aspect and mental capabilities of a dog.  In addition, add different training techniques in one session.  Smart dogs pick up fast on commands.  They are able to comprehend what your voice and emotion emits.  Therefore, once a command is mastered move on to the next training session.  If you stick on one command for too long, a smart dog’s mind wanders.  Keep your dog engaged and you will have effective and successful results.

Stay Light-Hearted

Smart dogs have a tendency to react to your emotions.  As a result, and as stated in prior blogs, remember to stay upbeat when interacting with a smart dog.  Smart dogs are more in-tuned with your emotions and understanding what the final goal is you are trying to achieve at a faster pace than other dogs.  Thus, remain happy when providing training and your dog will react in a positive manner to your commands.

Smart dogs need the same guidelines as other dogs.  The only difference is to provide further assortment of training lessons to a smart dog ensuring your dog stays engaged and happy.  If you have any questions please talk to a k9 obedience training professional today.

Dog Obesity: More Common Than You Think

How to Gauge a Healthy Dog Weight

Dogs are susceptible to being overweight just as much as humans and paying attention to your dog’s waistline is vital to your dog living a healthy life.  But how do you measure if your dog is gaining too much weight?  What signs should you look for?  How do you prevent your dog from becoming obese?  Here are a few tips to help uncover if your dog is obese and how to stop your dog from obtaining a weight issue.

Measure Your Dog’s Waistline, Without a Measuring Tape

You may keep the measuring tape use for yourself.  There are easier ways to check if your dog is overweight.  One way is to feel your dog’s ribs.  If you cannot feel or see your dog’s ribs, then your dog is probably overweight.  Another sign of obesity is if your dog’s stomach droops low from the chest rather than folding up.  Obesity may be the cause.  Take your dog to a professional to confirm your initial evaluation.  If your dog is obese, it is time to make changes in your dog’s behavior and diet.

Exercise Your Dog

If your dog is beginning to show signs of weight gain, start engaging your dog in agility classes.  Take your dog on frequent walks and/or runs.  Record how much activity your dog has had and how to increase the physical aspect of your dog’s daily life.  The more you put into assisting your dog, the better life your pup will live.

If you are unsure on how to assist your dog to overcome heaviness or what effective methods work, talk to Florida dog training professional.  He/she will guide you in the right direction enabling you and your pup to live a vigorous life.

Why Dogs Need Exercise

Dogs have a built-in need to exercise.  It is a way for dogs to release energy.  If this need is unmet on a regular basis, then dogs find alternative ways to expend vigor that is not in a constructive manner.

Lack of Exercise Equals Destruction

Do you ever wonder why your dog chews up the house or why your pup scratches and digs all day long?  Does your dog engage in excessive barking?  Does your dog frequently raid the garbage?  You need to examine how often you play with your dog or provide your pup with exercise.  If your dog is lacking in participation of activities, then the dog will substitute the physical actions with negative behaviors.  These are bad habits for your dog to adapt.  To prevent this from happening enroll your pup in agility classes or dog obedience training classes.  These classes allow your pup the opportunity to socialize with other dogs, bond with you, and provide a positive atmosphere to let loose.  Thus, when you come home your dog is relaxed, happy and peaceful.

Ample Exercise Exemplifies Happy Home

When you ensure that your dog is engaging in exercise on a daily basis, you are improving the quality of life for your dog, and you.  You decrease your dog’s need to chew, bite and bark.  It eliminates a significant number of bad behaviors from continuing to develop.  The dog also will be able to sleep and rest quietly at night.  It also prolongs your dog’s life by keeping your dog in shape.

For more information on why dogs need exercise talk to a Florida dog obedience training class today.