Sport Breakdown: Introduction to Agility and the Physical Requirements of an Agility Dog
Agility is a fast-growing and popular sport that has taken the dog world by storm! Popular with both pet owners and competitive dog trainers', agility is an inclusive sport open to all dogs and handlers of different shapes, sizes, and abilities. Agility first appeared as a filler spectator sport at the Crufts Dog show in the United Kingdom in 1978. The sport has its origins in horse show jumping and was officially recognized by the kennel club in 1980. National agility clubs like the Agility Association of Canada (AAC) and United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) began to appear in the early to mid-1980s. Since then, agility has become the fastest growing dog sport in North American and around the world.
In this sport breakdown, we will take a look at the sport of agility! There is so much to cover for this fast and fun sport that for the first time ever we’re splitting our sport breakdown into FOUR parts! In the first instalment of our agility series, we’re taking a deeper look into what the sport of agility is and the physical demands it places on our dogs. Then, in Part Two, we’ll review the potential injuries that can occur and a few common signs and symptoms that owners should watch out for. Part Three will highlight what YOU can do from an injury prevention standpoint to help keep your agility dog off the sidelines. Finally, in Part Four, we’ll look at the role of canine conditioning for our agility dogs, why we should be conditioning our dogs, and what we should be including in a conditioning program tailored to the agility sport dog.
Do you have a dog who struggles to get through their conditioning session?
Do you have a dog that is unsure about some of the equipment in canine conditioning (e.g. wobble boards)?
Do you find your dog lacks motivation?
Does your dog easily “shut-down” when they make mistakes?
You are not alone!
In my last blog, we took a look at high drive dogs and discussed strategies to get them more focused during their canine conditioning sessions. But what if you own a dog who is the exact opposite and you're trying to find ways to bring them up and improve their confidence? The truth is, not every dog will approach conditioning with a “go get em” attitude and managing low energy can be a huge and discouraging challenge for many owners.
Many dogs struggle with a lack of confidence and it’s important that we, as their training partners, protect our dog’s confidence when we’re training. This means, paying attention to both the subtle and not so subtle cues our dogs are giving us and making adjustments in our sessions as needed (e.g changing equipment to something easier, shortening the training session). I often see handlers rushing their dogs onto equipment by either physically placing them on it or using equipment that their dog isn't quite ready for. I want you to take a moment and think about a situation where maybe you weren’t so comfortable?? A couple years ago, I started a weight lifting program and when I first started, I was not comfortable!! It was so new to me and I was unsure about my mechanics or how to approach my work out! I was so thankful for GREAT coaches who guided and helped me overcome my fears and slowly built up my confidence which led to a more enjoyable and stress-free work out sessions. The same will ring true for the approach you take with your dog who might be showing lower confidence and enthusiasm in the canine conditioning gym.
In this week’s blog, I take a look at how to help build your dog's enthusiasm and confidence for canine conditioning and how some simple changes and games can make a world of difference!
There's a saying that the most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog and I'm sure dock diving competitors would agree! Dock diving is a fast-growing sport that has become even more popular in this year of required social distancing. As trainers and dog owners we may find ourselves at a bit of a loss on how we can best prepare our dogs for the sports they do. One way we can help our dogs perform their best and reduce their risks of injury is to understand the physical demands of the sport our dogs participate in.
For many dock diving competitors, one of the biggest challenges of the sport is its short training and competition season. In Canada, a dock diving season may only have 12 weeks of good weather. This means that competitors in dock diving will need to keep up a consistent conditioning routine during their off-season so their dogs are prepared to return to the sport. In this week's blog, we'll take a deep dive (pun, fully intended!) into the sport of dock diving!