How Much Obedience do you Need for Dog Agility

down stay in dog agilityWe find it odd sometimes to hear how people view different venues of dog training. Obedience is thought to be boring and dull, a drill of commands your dog must comply with. Whereas, dog agility is all about fun, tricks, and playing with our dogs. Well, we hate to be Debbie Downers, but that isn’t the case. Dog Agility does indeed require obedience though we think that title is a bit outdated.

When you look at how far dog training has come with positive reinforcement training, clicker training, or whatever term you want to use, obedience isn’t a part of training. Now if we look at the question from a modern standpoint we can ask, what handling cues does our dog need to know before we take on dog agility. Now doesn’t that sound, well, more positive?

Most dog agility trainers will require some kind of basic home manners class with a focus on skills the dog will use in dog agility. Shadow handling, loose leash walking, recall, sit and down stays are all required for successful completion of basic dog agility. With the exception of the recall, your dog doesn’t need to have these skills mastered with flawless executions as they are a work in progress.

The only other aspect of dog agility that your dog should be able to handle is being around other dogs. Like the recall, this skill is a must as there is no way around the fact that your dog will be around other dogs. Shy and aggressive dogs need some specialized care to ensure they have positive experiences in dog agility long before you try to compete. It will be a work in progress as different settings may trigger your dog in different ways. You may have to take things a bit slower at the beginning, but remember, dog agility is the great healer and your dog can succeed.

Don’t look at these “obedience” cues as forcing your dog to comply to a command. Instead, look at them as handling techniques you need to ensure the health and safety of you and your dog in a practice and competition setting. Remember, you are always trying to set your dog up for success and that cannot happen if you and your dog do not have a connection and understanding about these basic skills.