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5 things I've learned through training for dog agility.  I now have a better understanding of what dog training techniques work best with my dog.  These dog training methods also helped to increase the bond with my dog.  Click through to read the article.

I’ve owned dogs most of my life but it took years for me to learn how to train them properly. Way back then, training was based on punishing the wrong behavior and that just didn’t work for me or my dog.  But then through a class, I was introduced to positive reinforcement training and wow, what a difference!  My dog was extremely high drive and I knew he would really love agility. So, I did some research, found a good agility training school and off we went. Looking back, I learned so many important things about dog training through these agility classes!

Get all the tools you need from KPCT to make training fun and rewarding for the agility and sport-driven dog in your care!

Things I’ve Learned Through Training For Dog Agility

There is a prerequisite.

The majority of trainers will require you and your dog to have at least completed a basic obedience class before starting their agility class. Basic obedience is very important in agility.  Regardless of your plans, I think that every dog and handler can benefit from a basic obedience class.  During our basic obedience class I learned how easy it is to train a highly food motivated dog. My dog would do anything I asked for a high reward training treat. The skills you learn in basic obedience class, such as recalls, sits, downs, stays and walking on a loose leash are all useful every day skills that are important for every dog to know.  These skills are also very useful if you decide to take up a dog sport and for me that was agility.

Dogs all learn at their own pace.

All dogs learn at their own pace.  What may be very simple to teach one dog may take another dog much longer to learn.  The pace of your training will always be set by your dog.  You need to be very patient when training a new skill to your dog.  Chances are that if your dog is catching on it could be the method that you are using to teach him.  Most instructors will have a few different methods to teach each of the skills required.  If your dog is having a hard time learning one of the skills, ask your instructor for some help.  They can recommend some different methods that you can try to see which one works with your dog.   Make your training time a game for your dog.  Let your dog take as much time as he needs, without getting impatient or frustrated. He will eventually figure out what behavior you want from him.

KPCT's training kits are a great way to learn the basics of clicker training.

Break down tasks in to smaller pieces.

All tasks must be broken down into small pieces.  Whether the task is a simple sit, more complex tricks or agility sequences. If you break the task down to something small it will be easier to teach your dog. Teach the small portion then mark or reward and repeat.  Do this several times before making the task larger.  A great example of this is training for the agility tunnel.   When training an agility tunnel, you make the tunnel as small as you can. Have someone place your dog at the entrance of the tunnel while you sit on the ground at the exit. Call your dog to go through the tunnel.  As soon as the dog comes through that little piece of a tunnel, you mark or reward. Slowly begin expanding the tunnel using the same technique. It won’t take your dog long to figure this one out.  Most dogs seem to love the tunnel obstacle in agility.  In just a few minutes, you’ll have your dog going through however long a tunnel you need.

Never scold your dog for the wrong response.

For agility training, once the dog begins obstacle training, there is never a wrong answer. Dogs get confused, and may shut down, if they start being told they’re doing the wrong thing.   So keep the training light and never scold your dog for doing the incorrect thing. If the dog doesn’t do what you want him to, you simply do not mark or reward for that action. You just ask again and the minute you get the correct response, mark or reward and make a HUGE deal of it. That will make your dog more eager to give you that same response again. As you start competing, you might want to use a certain word to indicate the incorrect response, such as “uh oh,” or “oops,” but not with a scolding tone. This will indicate that the dog will be asked to try again but everything is fine between the two of you.  This way your dog doesn’t get upset and you can continue training.

Get all the tools you need from KPCT to make training fun and rewarding for the agility and sport-driven dog in your care!

Keep it fun!

Always keep training fun for both you and your dog. Even when you start competing, or have been competing for a long time, this is important. If you start getting caught up in the competition and title-winning, you might forget why you started agility to begin with: because it’s fun! When the game stops being fun, your dog won’t enjoy it anymore and neither will you. Agility is an awesome sport and a great way to bond with your dog.

If you are looking for a fun way to train your dog, give agility a try.  You will learn lots of great skills as a trainer and your dog will love it.  For me, this opened my eyes to a whole new way to train dogs.  A better way that was more fun for both me and my dog.

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