Your Australian shepherd Sydney was born to run. Sydney runs at breakneck speed through the dog park, jogs briskly through the neighborhood with you, and plays countless rounds of fetch without breaking a sweat. You’re running out of ways to tire this canine athlete out! Try canine agility work, a super-energized canine sport in which off-leash dogs race through an obstacle course. On a typical course, Sydney will run through tunnels, leap over barriers, and navigate weave poles in a specific order – while you guide him with voice commands and run along with him. If canine agility work interests you, ask your Pelham veterinarian to give Sydney the go-ahead for this demanding physical activity.
Before you jump headfirst into agility work, determine if Sydney shows an interest in the sport. Find a dog park with an obstacle course, and observe Sydney as he maneuvers through the challenges with your help. If he seems mentally focused and seems to be having fun, you might have discovered an ideal match for Sydney’s boundless energy.
Even better, agility work is open to any dog – small or large – who can handle the sport’s mental and physical challenges. Small terriers, Welsh springer spaniels, and Golden retrievers can all excel on agility courses tailored to their size and physical capabilities.
Fortunately, Sydney has a clean bill of health for agility work, and he’s chomping at the bit to get started. On the other hand, if Sydney was still a very young dog who didn’t have the strength or stamina for agility work, your vet might recommend some conditioning exercises that would get Sydney into shape for agility work when his body finally matured.
Of course, Sydney has already aced his obedience class, which means he should easily be able to obey your commands while you both race through the agility course. Also, Sydney’s friendly nature and ability to get along well with other dogs and people will also be an advantage. After all, you don’t want an off-leash Sydney to harass his canine competitors or human agility partners or spectators.
Since Sydney is an agility course newbie, his trainer will first teach him several agility course basics. For example, he’ll learn to navigate common course obstacles like tunnels and hoops. Once Sydney masters each one, he’ll graduate to a higher-level obstacle or more difficult sequence. Eventually, he’ll be practicing on a competition-level course.
Each time Sydney completes a task well, reward him with praise and/or treats. When Sydney competes in his first agility games, invite your Pelham vet to join you in sharing Sydney’s accomplishments.