How to Find a Dog Agility Trainer
We have heard it said before and it will be a problem in many areas no matter how popular dog agility gets. That age old question: “I don’t have a local trainer or agility club I want to learn how to do agility, and would be willing to travel for a trial. What should I do?” Or worse in our minds: “The only local trainers don’t use positive reinforcement training or don’t teach competitive dog agility.” Now we are not saying you have to be competition minded to enjoy dog agility, but even if you just want to do minimal competition for your teams sake, having a coach that understands competition will be a huge benefit.
Finding a local trainer can be tough and unfortunately it can sometimes be impossible! We suggest that you start with googility.com as they have great resources for finding trainers/training centers. You can also try local breeders or dog clubs. If that avails you nothing, then you will have the task of teaching you and your dog from books and videos.
We recommend doing a bit of online shopping. Most big trainers have websites or blogs where you can get to know them and their training styles a little better. Then you can get books or videos to see which trainer appeals to you. You can also search DogAgilityVideos.com for training videos to get an idea of what is working for others. You don’t have to be a purest either. If something works for you and your team then keep it and if you just can’t get something to work, keep looking for a better way.
If you are going it alone, you will need to build up a practice course for yourself. Affordable Agility.com has what you need to start our small or you can get a full course for you and your dog. They even have equipment for those of you that have limited space! Think about it, if you want to give dog agility a go, maybe your friends will too. Then you there is the possibility of pooling resources to get equipment and rent rings to practice. You could start a dog agility club in your area!
We asked our subscribers for advice on this subject as well and here is what they had to offer:
L. Olsen says:
Find an agility trial in your driving range and just go for the day with out your dog or better yet volunteer to be a Ring Crew for half or all day… They will teach you what to do and you will be able to see it first hand (and you usually get a free lunch!) During breaks ask folks how they got started and who they train with. If you see someone with a dog like yours or someone you really admired …ask if you could talk to them when they have a free moment. You dont want to bother folks right before they go in the ring cause they are concentrating, but many folks will find a moment later in the day to share info. Make a list of questions… like where do you train, do you follow a handling system, do you know anyone in my area that does agility, etc. All the books and videos will make more sense once you see it first hand. The Clean Run website has many videos to rent on line…so you can try them out. Agilityevents.net can help you find events in your area. Good luck
Check out Agility University. It’s online training with various options. You can be an actual student, audit, or observe, I believe. Students set up courses at home, video tape their runs, and post the video online for the instructor to critique. Many top name trainers on Agility U, and lots of different classes. I believe the blog AgilityNerd is beginning to video critique as well (less formal and structured, and not in a “class” setting- more individual and you can tell him what you’re looking for help with).
Also, go to trials to watch and volunteer, and to network. Ask people who they train with. I thought there was no agility in my area- you certainly don’t see it advertised and no large training facilities. Turns out there are several options for trainers in the area- you just won’t find them in the yellow pages, is all…
So don’t give up if you failed to find a local trainer on your first try. Keep at it and at the very least, you could become the leader of a club and paving the way for others in your area to enjoy this great sport.