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Getting started in agility

  1. Observe a class: Different teachers have different techniques. Watch how they teach and decide if it's right for you and your dog.
  2. Know the basics: Does your dog do a reliable “sit,” “down,” and “stay”? If you and your dog need to brush up, you may want to search for a trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
  3. Schedule enough time – You'll need time for agility classes and regular practice. Top competitors train every day, but trainers recommend you spend roughly ten to fifteen minutes per session.
  4. Socialize your dog: Make sure it's comfortable around other dogs and in crowded, noisy places.
  5. Use positive rewards: Motivate your dog and keep its attention with treats, a toy, or praise. Many agility instructors discourage and often forbid harsh language and choke collars.
  6. Find a good instructor. Your obedience trainer or local humane society might teach agility or be able to direct you to someone who does. Local agility clubs can connect you with teachers. Find a club near you through the agility organizations listed below. It is also recommended you get proper dog agility equipment.
  7. Attend some local agility events: Learn about trials, fun matches, and demonstrations by contacting your local breed club, agility club, or the organizations below.
  8. Arrange access to equipment: Your dog will need to practice the different styles of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and contact obstacles. Many training facilities have “drop-in” times. You can even make your own inexpensive jumps with plastic pipes.
  9. Have fun! A positive attitude is the key to a successful dog agility campaign.

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