You Need Structure in Your Dog Agility
Dogs and kids have a lot in common, not because kids act like dogs, but rather because dogs function at about a 5 year old human level. So it should come as no surprise that dogs and kids both crave structure and routine. This doesn’t mean you are going to become “pack leader” or that you have to control every minute of your dog’s life (kids don’t like that either). We are talking about you dog agility training or any training for that matter. You need to have structure in your training, a game plan you follow to not only ensure you are always headed in the right direction, but also to give you a place to go back to when things go awry. Dog agility is about fun and seeing how well you and your dog work together, but you need structure in order to achieve that level
How to develop structure in your dog agility.
- Be consistent: Ask your dog for the performance you want in competition. If you don’t you will develop bad habits that may destroy a run or worse get you DQ’d. Be consistent in your expectations. If you want a 2on 2off and your dog gives you a one toe running contact, you need to go back and get what you wanted. Not doing so creates confusion and inconsistency in your dog’s performance. Be consistent in your rewards as well. Rewards tell your dog he is on the right track so if you reward differently you will confuse them on what is expected.
- Be clear in your communication: Having yourself video taped during practice can reveal errors in communication. You can see if while you are running and signalling with one arm, your other arm is out too as a counter balance. Well, which arm should your dog obey? If you use verbals be sure they are clear and unique so there is no confusion on course.
- Be concise: Keeping your lessons short and to the point keeps your dog’s interest and energy up. If you and your dog are hitting a wall, take a break from that lesson and come back to it when you both are rested and refreshed.
By structuring your agility practice, you’re setting yourself up for success in your relationship with your dog. You will enjoy it more, because they will be more responsive to you, and they will love knowing exactly how to please you and earn their rewards!