The stamina, the swiftness and precision are easily seen at any Agility competition. Dogs don’t just start out at the top, though. It is up to you, your dog’s care giver and leader to condition his body and hone his mind so that he can bring home the ribbons and titles he deserves!
Contacts must be touched in an agility trial, otherwise your dog can be penalized. You can hone in your dog’s skills to touch paw to these contact zones on obstacles, such as the teeter and the A-frame, at home through training and practice. It takes a great deal of physical and mental power to reach these contacts each and every run through a course, so your dog must exhibit full control over his body no matter how energetic he may be.
Begin these contact training sessions in home or at your local kennel club in which you may use safe, quality equipment. Training contacts really is not much different than training the obstacles, and using positive reinforcement will help your dog touch paw on the contact every time.
In humans, we build stamina through exercise and caution. Stamina is not built by seeing how far or how fast you can go, it is working on staying under your threshold of exhaustion through pacing speed and planning ahead for obstacles. It is no different when training your dog and preparing for your first Agility trial, or maintaining your dog’s body condition for the big upcoming run. Don’t tire him out and make his muscles sore on your first try. Instead, go on long but steady jogs and even hiking!
Agility is a sport of precision and speed. If your dog misses a contact he is penalized and you are less likely to place first. Just like if your dog is slow or tires out before the run is complete he will not have a chance at placing first. If he has not had the proper physical training to withstand the physical exertion of an Agility run, then he will not have it in him to go as fast for as long as he really can!
Keep Your Vet Close
During training, don’t forget regular check ups at the vet for your dog! You can keep tabs on his muscle building, his speed and even weight at home with the proper equipment, but it is more difficult for you to keep an eye on his muscle and tendon health. His joints also will take a lot of stress through training and competing. Visit your vet regularly to make sure your dog is injury free and ready to run!