In agility your dog has to be trained to run courses. You can train him on obstacles separately or you can train him on a dog training course, either option is OK but a course is much better in the long run. Most dog agility handlers have had experience running and training their own dog but when new handlers arrive at a club they have had no experience in agility and need all the help that they can get! So advising them about dog training courses is the best way to start.
Some handlers may have had previous experience in competitions like dog obedience, show dog work or fly-ball but not in agility. When starting out learning courses is the first thing any handler must do, they must know what a course involves and how to run one, if they do not know then how is their dog supposed to? A dog training course is a simple method to teach your dog agility and is great practice for when it comes to competitions. Any dog can run a course, mini’s, midi’s or full seized dogs are welcome in shows but of course the obstacles are lowered for the smaller dogs!
A dog training course is usually used on training nights by all the members of the club and there is usually one handler there who helps the rest, by letting the handlers know what they are doing “wrong” with their dog, the handler must project good body language and good commands for the dog to follow orders if the handler doesn’t then the dog will just run around and not do anything correctly!
Separate obstacles are usually set up for handlers and dogs who need to concentrate on just one aspect of the course, for example their jumping, weaves or contact points. Again there is usually a guide there to help the beginners to show their dog what it needs to do. A lot of dog training courses are ran with inexperienced dogs on the leash so that they don’t interfere with other dogs running on different training courses.
Any dog can learn agility with the right method of training, dog training isn’t only available in agility or obedience either. I mentioned something earlier called fly-ball. Fly-ball is the new competition sweeping the UK by storm. Crufts (the biggest UK dog show) now even have a course for it. It is where the dog runs over five small low to the ground hurdles and then reaches a box where it places it two front paws on a pad, when the pad is pressed a tennis ball is released from behind the machine and the dogs aim is to catch it and run as fast as they can back! This is great to watch and even better to train for.
If trained correctly on a training course dogs can be taught amazing things and reach new heights that you didn’t think possible, try and train as often as you can and your dog will soon be a master in its game and you’ll carry home many trophies and rewards for your efforts!