It’s no secret that dog agility is my passion. 2016 is going to be my 12th consecutive year of competing in this great sport. For several years, I’ve taught beginner dog agility classes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I decided to put together a video showing what I teach in this introductory class to give prospective students an idea of what to expect.

So, welcome to our Introduction to Dog Agility class!

Who should take this class?

My focus with this class is introducing the basic skills of dog agility: over, under, around, through, and on – with a variety of objects. These items have different textures, some of them wobble and tip, and others make noise. Some of these items are actual agility obstacles, like the bar jump, table, and tunnel. Others serve as stepping-stones to doing more complicated obstacles like the dogwalk and seesaw.

Introduction to Dog Agility class is a huge confidence booster for dogs. Penny, the lanky hound mix in the video, started this class just a few weeks after being adopted and totally blossomed in this four week class. On the first week of class, she didn’t even want to walk on the smooth lobby floor to get into the training area, and was tentative about most of the obstacles. On week four, as you can see, she was flying over jumps and investigating everything!

What about puppies?

This class is also a really great socialization opportunity for puppies, and you’ll see several cute pups in the video having a great time. Some veterinarians will tell you that only adult dogs should go to agility class, but that only applies if you’re working with someone who doesn’t understand how to modify exercises for young puppies.

Dogs under a year of age do not jump or weave in our agility classes. Equipment is kept very low to the ground so puppies aren’t launching off of equipment and landing hard on their still-developing joints. All of the exercises are done at the puppy’s pace – there is no luring or dragging.

How can I practice at home?

I focus on introducing exercises that you can practice at home, with stuff you already have in your house – couch cushions, trash cans, broomsticks, books, that sort of thing. Homework each week includes a trick to develop your dog’s flexibility and confidence, and build your training skills.

I pack a lot of fun into these four-week classes! If you’d like to join me in Providence, you can sign up online here. The only prerequisite is that your dog has taken a group clicker training class prior to starting agility.