Agility Training for Goldens
Yes, They Love Competitive Sports
Golden Retrievers never tire of “fetch”, so of course we know they make great Agility competitors – and you can train your Golden whether it is for exercise only or true agility competitiveness. While some breeds like the Australian Shepherd are known for excelling at this sport, this is no reason to stop you from entering your Golden.
According to the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), there are some 150 breeds of dogs including mixed-breed that are involved in agility. The objective of the competitive sport is to see who can complete the obstacle course in the fastest time with the fewest mistakes.
Dogs start competing at the usual ages of 1 and 2 years. You can, of course, begin their training earlier in your back yard. To avoid unintentional injury, it is always suggested that you discuss with your veterinarian first to decide when your pup will be ready to attempt the jumps; the most difficult part of this sport.
Begin by working on basic obedience – teach your puppy to sit, down, come, heel and stay. While he learns these basic obedience lessons, try to get him used to working around lots of other dogs and people. This will be important during competition events.
Economically, the USDAA website has links to agility groups in each state and many dog trainers offer classes. This will afford you the ability to introduce your dog to the obstacles without the expense of buying or building them yourself.
In these classes, you (and your dog) will be introduced to obstacles including A-frame, the teeter-totter, and the dog-walk. Dogs must be able to walk up the steep incline and back down the other side. The dog-walk is like a balance beam with ramps on either end. And the teeter-totter is just like one you would find at the playground. Your dog must learn to walk across it as it moves under his weight.
There are tunnels to run through and weave-poles to thread their way to the other end. The pause-table is a table your dog must jump up on and either sit-stay or down-stay. The table is no higher than your sofa, but the hard part is getting him to stay… obviously, he has hurried from the start, and needs to learn to stop until you give the signal to continue.
Before you know it, it’s time to put it all together – this is called sequencing. It will be your job to let your dog know the order in which he should approach each obstacle. Once he is able to do this successfully, you are ready to compete!
Esther Smith, author
Smith has enjoyed all of the dog shows on television, but especially the Agility Competition – most amazing how these dogs just love the sport.
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