How to get started in dog agility - It's a great activity for both you and your dog, and can be so rewarding. Take a look at how to go about taking up this exciting hobby...
- To get started in dog agility, find a good club or trainer in your area. We have plenty of information on dog agility and The Kennel Club has a list of registered clubs and trainers, but there are also some really good trainers who aren't registered with the KC because they don't want to pay the registration fee. So, it's worth searching the internet or asking at your local vet's.
- A couple of agility training sessions a week is plenty, combined with a little practice at home.
- It helps to have a few agility jumps at home to practise your agility, but don't do hours of practice, just a bit here and there. There are some great agility jumps available on the internet, but go for the hurdle jumps or proper agility jumps, not flimsy garden types.
- Eighteen months old is the minimum age for competing in agility. However, you can start agility training at just under a year old, starting with jumps at a low height.
- Make everything fun. Dogs and owners need to enjoy themselves. So only do a bit at a time and even when your dog matures, it should be little and often. Dogs are at their best in this sport from four to six years of age, so it's important to take a long-term view.
- The weaves are the trickiest to teach. They're an ambiguous obstacle and require great accuracy. It's important to teach them slowly and patiently and keep it interesting.
- Any dog can do agility, but if you want to win and get to the top then a Border Collie is definitely the best breed. They're hard working, clever, and loyal. The figures speak for themselves, with over 95 per cent of the large dog category in agility being Border Collies.
- My best piece of advice would be to enjoy your time with your dog; keep it fun and don't get impatient. Remember to keep your contacts good as this is what will make a difference in agility competitions. Never underestimate the importance of your positioning on the agility course, as this is vital for your dog's flow.