Imagine a sport where you jump through hoops, run through tunnels and climb obstacles. A tough feat for any athlete, but these aren’t your average competitors. This sport is for the dogs.
“It is a competitive sport called agility,” said Gwen Little, owner and operator of Paus-n-Train dog training in Selwyn, Ont. “It runs at provincial, national and international circuits.”
While it can be highly competitive, Little said agility can also be done recreationally and is a great way to bond with your pet.
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“The idea here is that we make the equipment fun and we are building through classical conditioning so the animals start to go ‘I like this,” she said. “It is a team sport, not only do we need to have the dog understand their job, but the handler has to understand their job to support their dog through it.”
Little said it is important to start small and get proper training, because if you rush into things too quickly it can negatively affect your dog’s confidence.
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Little said it is not only a great way for your dog to get exercise, but is also great for their mental health.
“It is tremendously mentally enriching and stimulating for them and during this whole COVID era, many people have told me that this is their happy place.”
Longtime recreational handler June Murdoch said agility training is good for humans as well as our four-legged friends. She and her loyal companion, James Bond, a seven-year-old Portuguese Water Dog, train with Little each week.
“It is a real partnership effort and it gets me out and it’s good for my brain because every week the course is different,” said Murdoch. “It is really good for both of us.”
Little said every breed of dog is capable, and that pet owners need not be intimidated by the sport.
“It really comes down to the temperament of the individual dog,” she said. “Any dog can play.”
For more information on dog training or agility classes, visit the Paus-n-Train website.