Photo credits: @endeavorsofego
Agility – it’s a term that most people associate with flexibility and dexterity. But if you’ve been a part of the “dog world” for long enough, you’ll realize that agility is also the name of a sport. Agility is a canine-focused recreational activity in which a handler (that’s you!) and their dog (your furry friend) navigate an obstacle course, competing in speed and accuracy. If that sounds like too much for you or your dog, or something that you could never do, that’s where you’re wrong! While it looks both impressive and difficult on the outside, it’s a fun and interactive way to build your relationship with Fido. Here are a few reasons why agility is the best thing ever.
1. IT BUILDS YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Your relationships, whether they be human or animal, grow and develop from the kind of interactions you have. Agility is all about teamwork. When you run a course with your dog, you work together, so he knows where he’s going. In training with one another, you will build a stronger relationship based on doing something fun. Just like how you spend one-on-one time with another person to get to know them, agility is an interactive activity that keeps you and your dog engaged with each other.
2. IT GIVES YOUR DOG A JOB TO DO
When you come home after a long day of work, the last thing you want to see is your dog bouncing off the walls because they have so much energy. The wonderful thing about agility is that – whether you are taking classes or training in your backyard – it gives your dog a job to do that allows them to focus and expend energy.
Agility engages your dog both physically and mentally. The physical part is obvious. Your dog is leaping over jumps and through tunnels all the while running as fast as they can. The mental part comes into play at the same time. While they are sprinting through the course, they are simultaneously focusing on you, where you are, and what you are directing them to do next. This is mentally exhausting, especially while they are still learning how agility works.
3. YOU CAN BE AS COMPETITIVE AS YOU WANT
Although I mentioned earlier that agility is a competitive sport, it doesn’t have to be. Some people never enter competitions and just have fun playing the game at class or at home. Others go so far as to compete nationally and internationally. Agility’s focus should really be all about you, your dog, and your relationship together. Whatever level you are the most comfortable with is what you should be doing, which brings us to our last point.
4. IT’S FUN!
Agility should be something you do because you enjoy it. Unlike basic training, your dog doesn’t need to do agility. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to run. Similarly, you don’t have to bring your dog to a class. However, agility is something that you both should love doing. Like any other hobby, it can be frustrating and as you are learning, it might not always go so smoothly. But it can also be incredibly rewarding to do something that you and your dog can accomplish together, as a team.
Here are Sydney and Ego from @endeavorsofego in action!
Erika Newcomb has been playing agility for over 10 years. She has been teaching agility classes since 2015, and currently works at Saint Paul Dog Training Club in Saint Paul, Minnesota.