Dog Agility Training From Books and DVD

dog with bookEven with the mass explosion of people getting into the great sport of dog agility, there are many aspiring trainers that don’t have local access to a training club or group.  I don’t use the word “trainer” casually either.  Every one of us is indeed a trainer whether we attend class or not.  It is you that your dog is learning from and will be depending on during a competition so you need to realize the gravity of your position as a trainer.

When you are forced to do your training, for whatever reason, via book or video you need to do so very carefully.  You really should do your research on the trainer you want to learn from and watch their style of interacting both with their dogs as well as their clients.  A person can have a super dog and do phenomenal on the competition field, but that does not make them good at communicating with others and teaching them how to achieve results.  And just because a trainer does great with a Border Collie, it does not mean they have the answers to common problems faced with a owner of a Poodle.

This is where years of experience as a trainer/teacher come into play.  That doesn’t mean you cannot glean important and useful training tips from younger handlers, it just means they may not have the correct answers to your individual or breed related problems.  But I am getting just a tad off course.  Once you have done your homework and have found a trainer that seems to mesh with you and your dog’s learning style, make the investment and purchase their training books and/or DVDs.  Shorter videos on YouTube are super as examples of exercises and even help with specific issues AFTER you have studied.  You need to know that they may or may not have all the steps you need in the lessons.

Follow the instructions of the materials you purchase to the “T” and if you have questions, contact that trainer or someone that employs their techniques and get some answers before starting.  If at any time during your DIY training with your dog things don’t go “by the book,” don’t continue the training.  As easy as it is to teach your dog the correct movements, it is equally easy to teach them the wrong ones.  The difference is that once they have learned it the wrong way, the odds of them reverting back or having difficulty under pressure is greatly magnified.  Plus, it can take twice as long to reteach them.

This brings up another important issue.  If the lesson is not working, the majority of the time it isn’t the lesson that is at fault.  So when you contact the trainer don’t accuse them of not knowing what they are doing or that it doesn’t work with your dog.  Instead, be open minded and learn from them, being ready to provide them with videos so they can watch you and see where the problem exists.  Most of the time it is your incorrect interpretation of instructions or even a missed step that is the issue.

There is no doubt that learning from books and video has it’s limitations, but if you take the time to study the lessons and swallow your pride when things aren’t looking right you can have great results.  Then, when you can, attend clinics, fun matches, mock trials and learn from others whenever you can.  Training on your own is more difficult, not impossible.  To help you get started on your independent journey, check out our line of training books and DVDs at

Do you have a story about learning fr0m video or books?  We’d love to hear them, just scroll down and leave it in the comments area.  Maybe your success or failures will help others in the same boat.