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Training

Agility

Would you like to have more fun with your dog? Are you looking for ways to improve your dog's fitness and maybe your own? Do you want to enhance your relationship with your dog? 
If you answered "yes" to any or all of the above questions, read on, agility might be for you!

The sport of Agility was invented in England where an equestrian show jumping enthusiast was asked to develop an entertaining event for the Cruft's Dog Show in London. The event proved to be so much fun for the participants and the spectators that a new dog sport was born. Now the fastest growing dog sport in America, there are four organizations, including the AKC, which sponsor agility events in the United States.

Handlers direct their dogs off leash through an obstacle course that always includes jumps and may also include tunnels, weave poles, a dog walk, teeter totter and A-frame. Handlers are not allowed to touch their dogs or the equipment when competing. Dogs rely on their handlers body language, voice and hand signals to negotiate the obstacles in the proper sequence. 

During training positive methods utilizing toys and food treats are used to teach the dogs first the obstacles themselves and then to run several obstacles in a sequence. Handlers and dogs learn various maneuvers which allow for changes of side and direction. Dog's and handlers quickly discover how much fun agility can be. As the dogs learn to focus on their handlers in spite of distractions the bond between them is strengthened. Even if you never compete both you and your dog will benefit from agility training.

The best introduction to the sport is to attend an agility trial. Take your chairs, a picnic lunch and an umbrella for shade if you have one. Most competitors will be glad to talk to you when they have free time. You will soon see that a wide variety of dogs and people can enjoy this sport.

The Bay area offers a number of possibilities for those interested in agility. To find a class near you check www.bayteam.org for a list of teachers in your area. You may have to wait for a Beginning class to start but be patient you'll soon find it was worth the wait.

There are currently four agility Kerries in Northern California. Contact an agility competitor for a list of upcoming trials if you would like to see them in action.
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