Dog Agility Whiz Wanna Be

We had a subscriber share a great story with us about her struggle with her dog that left her wondering what the Whiz was going on. This may be a story you can relate to, and if so, we would love to hear how you made your dog an agility wizard!

I have a great dog – her name is Whiz (short for Wizard). I regret giving her that name!   She whizzes around like an out of control top (or one of those kid’s toys that flies if you pull it back and let go).  She gives me about two seconds of attention on the course, and then she is running over an A-frame or through a tunnel and then I know it’s over for our run.  What do I do to make her a Wizard?

Sometimes our pets live up to their names in a way that can be as frustrating as it is funny. And while this isn’t a story about being careful about what you name your dog, that’s a different blog, we hope it will help your dog to live up to their names in a positive way.

As for Whiz, always look for the place you can start your training. If she can give two seconds of attention, start there and build up. Sometimes it is slow, second by second, but as long as you are headed in the right direction, all improvement is good.

There a lot of ways to help Whiz become a Wizard in dog agility, here are a few of the problems you may be having and how to rectify them:

  • There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.”  When your dog goes over the a-frame, through a tunnel or even the dog walk, you dog can loose sight of you. Dogs react differently to this sudden “freedom.”  Some will loose confidence and focus while others may see it as time to invent their own course. So what do you do?
  • Remember your voice can help your dog as much as your body. So, if your dog looses sight of you, let yourself be heard. Even though we all know dogs can see those treats in your pocket, they really do not have x-ray vision. They have excellent sense of smell for those treats and an excellent sense of hearing for the agility course. If your dog needs to know you are there, let them know where you are verbally when they are in a position to loose sight of you. This will help keep them connected to you when they cannot see you.
  • Sometimes it is the easiest training practice, but the most overlooked, go back in your training. IN this case do more attention games and proofing. Play games where your dog is playing with only you and being rewarded by only you. Games like “Watch Me” and “Crate Games” are examples of attention building games. Recall games that build your value to your dog are super as well. Running away and “playing” on the equipment is self-rewarding. You have to make yourself more rewarding to your dog then these “games” they play.

We hope these ideas help you transform your Whizzes into Wizards and as we mentioned at the beginning of the article, we would love to hear how you have reined in your Whizzes too!