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Dog Agility Training: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners 2022

Two dogs sitting in a dog agility course tunnel

One of the best ways to get a dog to behave better, calm down, and stay fit is to begin dog agility training. Agility training is a series of obstacles that form a course for your dog to follow your directions through the correct order of obstacles. As you could imagine this takes some training and grace to pull off, but the process getting there and the feeling of you and your dog getting through a course is incredibly rewarding on its own!

Sometimes getting involved in these sports can be intimidating and you might not know if you or your dog has what it takes, well that is why I am writing this how to get started in dog agility training for beginners.

The Sport of Agility Training

Border collie going on a dog agility course obstacle

Agility training for dogs is an obstacle course that consists of:

  • Weave Poles
  • Dogwalk
  • Standard jumps
  • Pause table
  • Tunnel
  • Tire jump
  • Teeterboard

These make up a course where you go through each obstacle in order and your dog based on their speed, how they handle each obstacle (foot positioning, the height of the jump, etc…), and the number of faults will be scored to come up with a competitive ranking for the course. These competitions are held nationwide to find the best of the best, but this doesn't mean you can't get involved yourselves.

How to Get Involved

Yellow lab sprinting out of an agility tunnel

There are multiple organizations who oversee this sport like USDAA, the NADAC, and the AKCA who are all connected to clubs that practice and train agility for dogs at all levels. This will give you options to find a training program that you like that can also work with your schedule. It is important to enjoy this and have a good time, this is how the bonding works. If you have fun your dog will too and this will lead to them coming to you easier and behaving off leash because they are expecting some exciting agility work.

Dog agility training comes with some misconceptions about what is expected and required of both the handler and the dog itself. There is no requirement for the handler, you could do agility training in a wheelchair it just may not be as fast as normal. There is no need to be an Olympic quality athlete running through the course you can do effectively at any speed with proper training. Along with this people assume only border collies and German shepherds do dog agility training, but in all reality, some of the best dogs out there could be a chihuahua or a Yorkie. There are no limits on who or what kind of dog can do agility training and ultimately it is about having fun while training your dog.

Home Training

Belgian Malinois running through weave poles

Just like any other sport, it is possible to train at home but this requires obstacles. Along with this, it is a smart idea to go to at least a couple of training sessions to learn the proper techniques for agility training. Obstacles can be expensive when looking at professional grade however most if not all can be built right in your backyard. Don't believe me? Well, check out this article that tells you how to construct your own obstacles at home! With things like PVC pipes and benches, your dog will be flying through your homemade course in no time.

Why is Dog Agility Training Good?

Big dog learning to jump a hurdle on a sunny day

Agility training can be great for dogs well being, it works the part of their brain that is associated with getting tasks done which makes them feel like they've done something productive rather than just walking or running. This means they will most likely be calmer throughout the night and have less anxiety. Another benefit of agility is that your dogs will be more responsive to commands! Dogs see this training as play time and giving them tasks they enjoy with commands will get them associating you like fun and your commands as them getting to run around. A lot of the training skills learned during this period can also be used for other parts of behavior training when necessary.


puppy jumping a wooden hurdle for a treat

Dog agility training for beginners can be hard work and may even help you get into shape, but there are also some risks. It is a fast-paced sport that requires coordination and sometimes grace. There are risks of injuries to handlers but the dog is doing a majority of the hard work. Make sure your dog's bones are matured as pups and younger dogs are at risk of breaks if something goes wrong. In the summer times, heat is also a concern, dogs need breaks and water too and this is a hard thing on their body. With all the fast jerks and jumps make sure to take care of their body if need be. It may be wise to talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog is up to the task of dog agility training.

Dog agility training for beginners can be intimidating, or even hard to get into but don't be discouraged! This sport can be incredibly beneficial to you, your dog, and the bond you two share. Why not try out a home course! Let us know what you think by leaving a comment and sharing this blog!  

Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

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