Agility requires the most training of any dog sport in which I participate. And you’re never really done. Training continues even when a dog is very experienced, so I’m always training. And I love it.
Back in the 20th century, people got the idea that dog training is boring work conducted in a joyless atmosphere. That might have been true decades ago, but training has changed dramatically. It turns out that positive methods are not only a lot more enjoyable for both dog and handler, but also produce excellent results. And even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t succeed in agility using old-fashioned, dominance-based training methods. It’s an off-leash sport that requires a happy, willing canine partner. Agility is about joy, for both teammates.
“Agility is about joy, for both teammates.”
Don’t get me wrong; I love to compete. I love the atmosphere, the wonderful people I’ve met, and the fun of playing with my dog like a kid. I enjoy the physical and mental challenge. But, more than that, I love it when it’s just me and my dog, training alone and finally nailing that tricky skill. And I love the lessons that always seem to end up as dog parties. That’s where the joy is.
So, it turns out that the old saying applies to dog training. It’s a journey, so enjoy it. Go after your competitive goals, but enjoy getting there. You’ll spend far more time training than you will competing, so don’t focus too much on the endgame. Our dogs’ lives are short, and their athletic careers even shorter. Have as much fun as possible with them along the way.
Have you tried agility training with your dog? Share your story below!