Keeping your dog’s body and mind challenged is a good thing - just like it is for humans. Being fit both mentally and physically has incredible benefits. These are a few of the reasons why dog agility has become so popular. Dog agility is where pooches run obstacle courses under a time limit. These include tunnels, jumps, seesaws, and weave poles that the dogs zoom through, as well as pause tables where the dogs must stop for a set amount of time. The dogs don’t do this alone, they rely on their handlers to give them cues using body language and words to direct them through a course. And the dogs love it - matter of fact, we’re having big fun with dog agility in Alaska!
I had the pleasure of photographing and event for Bell Creek Agility. I always enjoy taking professional photographs of dog agility competition. The bond that exists between handler and dog is a beautiful thing to behold. Dog agility participants are at their peak, physically, when they perform - and it’s beautiful to watch the non-verbal communication that occurs between the dogs and humans during the obstacle course runs.
Dog agility, like dog dock diving, is a challenging sport to master and equally challenging to photograph too! The dogs move at high speed around the course of obstacles on difficult angles with challenging lighting conditions. The fast-paced movements are astounding make for an adrenaline-filled time - even for me.
If you haven’t been to a dog agility competition I recommend you do so. You will most certainly develop a deep respect for the human-animal bond that exists among all the competitors… Both human and dog alike.
The following is from Patti Engleman, a professional dog agility instructor here in Alaska. And in this article, Patti explains what all is involved in the great sport of dog agility.
Patti Engleman, Owner
Bell Creek Agility and Obedience, Wasilla, Alaska
CGC Evaluator, Agility Course Testing Evaluator, Foundation Obedience Instructor, Competition Obedience Instructor, Foundation Agility Instructor, Competition Agility Instructor, and Trick Dog Instructor and Evaluator
Agility is one of the fastest growing dog sports in the country according to the American Kennel Club (source). If you’ve ever watched a dog agility trial on television or in person, it’s easy to see why!
Spoiler alert: it’s more about effectively communicating with your dog than speed!
You may be surprised to learn that regardless of your dog’s breed or age, as long as they are physically sound, they CAN do agility!
Whether your dog is a purebred or a mixed breed, a lightning fast or a ‘take-your-time’ kind of mover, you can expect to have fun and deepen your connection with your dog through this fast growing sport.
Dog Agility Builds The Human-Animal Bond
Agility is so much more than teaching your dog to jump, climb or teeter. It’s about developing a bond that can only happen as you teach your dog to work and play with you.
Dogs need to work their brains and their bodies to live a healthy life, and dog agility helps them work both.
An added bonus is that you will also benefit from working your brain as you learn how to better and more effectively communicate with your dog while you both learn how to navigate the different obstacles.
And better communication will help you and your dog in any situation or dog sport. When your communication improves with your dog, your entire relationship improves - which means your dog is more enjoyable to be around.
As you continue your agility training and journey, you will discover that your dog’s confidence and trust in you grows!
Part of that confidence comes when you consistently work with your dog at home on different obstacles, as well as the handling skills that you learn in a class setting.
Practice Makes Perfect
You don’t need fancy equipment to continue practicing what you learn, and spending just 15 to 20 minutes a day will keep you and your dog moving steadily towards your agility goals, whether that’s to eventually compete or simply learn a new sport to help your dog burn off excess energy.
Fun For All Ages
Kids also love agility! It’s the perfect sport to help them stay active year-round, and instills lifelong skills and values in them - including patience, the ability to focus, and confidence. Just to name just a few.
Big Fun With Dog Agility in Alaska!
Every dog and handler is unique with their own set of challenges, so it’s important to find an experienced trainer who recognizes and appreciates your agility goals, and offers a balanced training program that supports and guides you and your dog to success.
Remember, no matter what your agility goals are, the fun needs to happen at both ends of the leash!
Ready to Join the Fun in this fast-growing dog sport? We invite you to learn more about upcoming classes with Bell Creek Agility and Obedience where our focus is teaching you to work with your dog in a fun and positive manner.
Why Not Try Dog Agility?
Just like parents with their children, having your dog participate in sports or other extracurricular activities help your pup, and you, grow! Together you can learn the value of teamwork, appreciate disciplined activities, expand on communication, and build trust.
No Experience Necessary
Don’t worry if dog agility is a new concept to you or your dog. Most dog agility training facilities have beginners classes. These are designed to start with teaching the basics, and slowly introduce dogs, and their handlers, to each obstacle - always in a positive manner. All five of my dogs attended classes at Bell Creek and to say "they absolutely LOVED it" is an understatement.
When it comes to creating a positive, rewarding, and connected relationship with your dog, dog agility is a sure bet. The underlying foundation to this type of interplay between human and dog is trust.
This is one of the main reasons dog agility is so good for you and your furry best friend!