6 Steps To Get Started With Dog Agility Training (2023)

Are you one of those dog owners who are glued to the television when a dog agility trail competition is broadcast? Watching those handsome dogs run through an agility course with jumps and obstacles is mesmerizing.

Plus, the dogs look like they’re having fun with their agility handlers, navigating their way around obstacles, crawling through a tunnel, mastering a tire jump and generally showing their stuff.

These programs might catch the attention of your dog too. It’s well-known that a canine sometimes enjoys watching TV almost as much as their owner – especially with other dogs on the screen!

Dog agility classes are great, but if you’d like to teach your dog agility training yourself, this is certainly something you can try at home. We’ve got great advice to get you started. First, let’s examine the benefit of agility training and whether it’s right for your fur baby.

Table of Contents

The Benefits of Agility Training for You and Your Dog

6 Steps To Get Started With Dog Agility Training (1)

When it comes to agility training, there are several advantages for your dog. Certainly, it’s a great way for them to stayactiveand get exercise. All that focused movement is also good braintraining.

Agility trials sharpen your dog’s cognitive skills just as learning any trick does. Agility training helps dogs feel very motivated, like they have a purpose or a specific job. In addition, this stimulating sport strengthens the bond between you and your doggo since you must work as a team.

(Video) How to get started in Dog Agility | Dog Tips and Tricks

Basically, your pooch wants to please you, and performing well at this sport is a sure-fire way to earn your praise. For your part, you’ll be very focused on watching for cues your dog is beginning to master the different tricks you’re teaching them, and sorting out how to assist them to get to the next level.

Is Your Dog Suitable for Agility Training?

6 Steps To Get Started With Dog Agility Training (2)

The short answer is yes. Your fur baby doesn’t have to be a certainbreedor have a particular disposition to try an agility trial. The key is to begin by knowing your dog and understanding any challenges they may bring to the activity.

For instance, is your dog older and doesn’t have as much strength as they used to? Maybe your canine friend is highenergyand doesn’tlistenas well as they should. Another consideration is whether your doggo has any fears, such as of the dark.

All this is to say that you should tailor the agility training to the needs of your dog. Think about what specific tricks to begin with and which to try later on or avoid entirely.

Furthermore, make sure to be very patient as they learn. Some dogs take right away to this sport, while others areslowerto master the tricks.

Keep your expectations reasonable. Rest assured, once your pooch starts to see how happy their progress makes you, and earn a few rewards, their interest and motivation will increase.

Basic Agility Equipment

Professional dog trainers use many types of agility equipment. These include an A-frame, a dog walk, jumps, ramps, a teeter board, a tunnel and weave poles. A-frames, dog walks and ramps teach nimbleness in climbing and often incorporate a pause table.

A tire jump or jumps using suspended poles trains a dog to leap over or through obstacles. A teeter board improves climbing and balance skills. Tunnels are employed to train dogs how to move through things, while weave poles create an obstacle course for them to navigate.

You can purchase agility equipment or, if you’re handy, build it yourself. However, you can also find items around the house to use for agility training. This is actually a great way to begin. Take a look below at how to get started, and the best tricks to focus on.

How to Get Started with Agility Training

6 Steps To Get Started With Dog Agility Training (3)

Agility training requires that your canine companion is ready to listen and follow commands. Therefore, taking them to a basic dogobedienceclass as soon as they’re old enough is good preparation. The other consideration around their age is whether their body has finished growing.

You don’t want them to injure themselves by attempting jumps that their muscles aren’t ready for. Get advice from your veterinarian about the kinds of agility moves you want to teach them, and whether they’re physically mature enough for them.

Start Small

Remember, even if you have visions of Rover or Rosie earning a dog agility trophy some day, your main reason for teaching your dog these tricks should be to have fun. So, start small and introduce your dog to this activity with regular short five- or ten-minute training sessions.

Also, keep things simple by beginning with enough materials to set up a few tricks. Your dog must not feel overwhelmed.

If you introduce too much at once, they may feel a bit confused and not know where to turn. With a few basic agilities set ups, you’ll learn what tricks your fur baby prefers and what pieces of equipment you might want to invest in.

Increase Attention

Minimize distractions to increase your pup’s ability to pay attention. For instance, if you live with others, pick an occasion when you can have alone time with your canine companion. Find a place inside or outdoors that’s suitable.

Also make sure it’s a relatively quiet time of day. You don’t want to try this with the sound of a garbage truck outside or yells from neighborhood kids at they get off the school bus!

Dog training means getting them to focus on you first so you know you have their attention, and giving lots of verbal praise and head rubs when they begin to learn. As your dog slowly masters agility training, you’ll notice that they pay less heed to surrounding distractions.

Introduce Tricks & Rewards

Tricks are beneficial for increasing your dog’s flexibility and strength. They also improve your pup’s coordination as they develop stronger proprioception, or more awareness of where their body is in relation to their environment.

Introducing tricks like rolling over, walking backwards or twirling on the spot to increase your dog’s agility will help them warm up for the agility training exercises involving obstacles.

Encourage your pooch by offering tons of praise and treats when they get things right. They’ll readily associate this positive feedback with learning more complicated agility moves later on.

(Video) My Dog’s FIRST Agility Lesson!

Work on Handling

Dog agility training requires proper handling. Start by teaching your dog to walk quietly beside you, not jumping and moving around looking for your attention or being distracted.

When your pooch accomplishes this on one side, train them to walk alongside you on the other side. Then, teach them these obedience behaviors while you’re both jogging or running.

Another simple exercise to work on handling is to have your canine move away from you at your command. Throwing treats a short distance out can show them what you mean.

In all cases, make sure your dog knows you have treats on you that they’ll earn for following your instructions! Giving some at first when they come close to performing the action you’re teaching – known as shaping – helps.

Start with Basic Agility Moves

Once you have handling under control, try a few basic agility tricks. For example, prep your pup for learning how to move tightly around an object without disturbing it by instructing them to go around a small item of furniture like a footstool or chair.

Attempt to have Butch or Bella follow your lead by running around a few agility obstacles yourself, and cheer them on when they follow you. Employ their favorite ball ortoyin the agility game by throwing it over a jump or inside a tunnel and asking them tofetchit back.

Having your pooch sit up off the ground on particular items is another method. This could be on a sturdy upturned cardboard box or recycling bin.

Next, you can reward Lucy or Luke for climbing inside the box or walking over the rungs of a ladder that you’ve laid flat on the ground. The possibilities are endless to get your friend ready for the big tricks!

Introduce Obstacles

Introducing obstacles is the next step in training your dog to complete various agility moves. The plan is to have your canine friend use the obstacle in accomplishing a trick − either by going around it without disturbing it or moving through it. Placing a treat where you want them to end up is a good strategy in the early learning stages.

Items like an A-frame, teeter board or dog walk are called contact obstacles since there are places where the dog is required to walk in order to complete the trick. Here are several other types of obstacles that you can, more easily, replicate at home.

(Video) Get started with dog agility training


Unless your dog is afraid of being in confined areas, tunnels are an easy obstacle to start off with. They’re at ground level and not too intimidating.

If you have a cat tunnel already and your pup is small enough, you can teach them to crawl through it for this dog agility move. Otherwise, it’s super easy to design something using a few kitchen chairs and a blanket. It doesn’t have to be pretty!

Be sure to begin with a fairly short structure so Snoopy of Stella can see through to the other end. Ramp up the fun by peeking at them through the end opening and holding out a treat for them to come and get.


Just as it sounds, ramps are nothing more than flat boards you teach your dog to walk up and back down on. Beginners that aren’t fond of climbing to any height will find this a bit harder.

You might have an old table top or door for a ramp, and a picnic bench outside that’s just the right height for a pause table. Or, if you don’t mind taking your couch apart and your fur baby is on the lighter side, you could angle one of the cushions from the floor to the base of the seating surface. Whatever you choose, the ramp shouldn’t be very steep to start with.

Weave Poles

6 Steps To Get Started With Dog Agility Training (5)

As you may have seen, weave poles used in competitions are a number of upright poles placed in a straight line and spaced apart to create an obstacle course. There are anywhere from six to 12 normally used. The canine weaves between the poles, entering from the right of the initial pole and attempting to come around the last one without missing any.

To try this at home, hunt for any obstacles of a similar size that you can place in a straight line. If you’re outside, ski poles or even a slim tree branch or two stuck in the ground works.

Nothing appropriate? Then, you may be able to pick up small inexpensive traffic cones at your local department store. Inside, you can place these along a hallway so your dog is less likely to be distracted.

Understandably, this skill is quite a bit harder for the average dog to achieve. It can assist to use aleashat first to guide them around the obstacles.

Dog Agility Training: Our Final Thoughts

If you’re feeling that you don’t want to sign your pet up for an agility class, it’s extremely easy to get started with an agility course right in your own living room or back yard. Teaching your dog a few basic skills is good for them in so many ways − in addition to being a fun way to spend time with them.

(Video) Beginning dog agility training: Week 1

Frequently Asked Questions

What age should I start agility training?

Dog agility training can be started for beginners once your canine has stopped growing and has moved past the puppy stage.

What are the best tricks to start with?

Owners can set up home agility course tricks use tunnels, ramps and weaving poles.

What equipment do I need for agility training?

Any kind of poles or narrow pvc pipes to space apart for weaving, a frame of some sort to use as a ramp and a tire tunnel for your dog to crawl through are all you need.


How do I start my dog in agility? ›

Put your dog on a leash, and give a command specific to the obstacle, such as "A-frame." Move quickly as you approach the obstacle, and lead the dog over it. You may need to use some extra special treats the first few times to coax your dog onto these obstacles.

How do I start my puppy in agility training? ›

How do I start my puppy in agility training?
  1. Going through an agility tunnel.
  2. Walking next to the handler at different speeds.
  3. Turning left and right when cued.
  4. Coming when called.
  5. Staying when told.
  6. Balancing on a low and stable board.
24 Mar 2021

When should I start training my dog agility? ›

Through the tunnel, over the jumps, and around the weave poles – the canine obstacle course known as dog agility is fun to watch and even more fun to do. However, although both pure-bred and mixed breed dogs are welcome, they must be at least 15 months of age to compete.

How long does it take to train a dog in agility? ›

Generally, attending class with an adult dog, over 1 year of age, with no behavior issues and who understands how to use their body will take 1-2 years. 1 year with an experienced handler or 2 years with an inexperienced handler.

What are the 7 basic dog commands? ›

More specifically, a well-behaved pup should respond to seven directions in order to become a good canine citizen: Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Heel, Off, and No.

What are the 5 components of agility? ›

Agility is the ability to move and change the direction and position of the body quickly and effectively while under control. It requires quick reflexes, coordination, balance, speed, and correct response to the changing situation.

What are the 3 phases of agility training? ›

These phases are the eccentric, isometric and concentric phases.

What commands are used in dog agility? ›

The main Directional Commands we teach are “Come”, “Go” and “Back”. Come means approaching and moving to you. Go means you and the dog are facing and moving in the same direction and the dog moves out ahead of you and keeps going until other wise directed. Back means the dog turns away from you.

How many times a week should you train agility? ›

Training for speed and agility is recommended for four times a week to acclimate your body and to develop muscle memory. While some days you may train harder than others, the most important factor in improvement is consistency.

What does a dog agility course consist of? ›

Dog agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have between 14-20 obstacles, which can include tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time.

How long should an agility drill last for a beginner? ›

But it doesn't have to be your entire workout: "It's a great way to warm yourself up before whatever workout you're doing, whether it's a HIIT class…or long-distance running," she says. Just spending 15 to 20 minutes on an agility workout can help improve your coordination, speed, and balance, says Fernandez.

Does agility tire out a dog? ›

Agility works both physically and mentally to stimulate and tire our dogs out in the best way. Learning how to get your dog to go over, under, around, or through different obstacles as you call out directions, while running to keep up with them, is the best kind of all-purpose exercise for you both.

What are faults in dog agility? ›

Many actions can result in a fault such as entering the Weave Poles incorrectly or missing a pole altogether, failing to place a foot in the “contact zone” while performing an obstacle like the Seesaw, or performing the obstacles out of order.

What are the six 6 components of agility? ›

There are six skill-related fitness components: agility, balance, coordination, speed, power, and reaction time. Skilled athletes typically excel in all six areas. Agility is the ability to change and control the direction and position of the body while maintaining a constant, rapid motion.

What are 4 exercises that improve agility? ›

Agility Exercises
  • Plyometric hurdles.
  • Speed ladder drills.
  • Box jumps.
  • Lateral jumps.
  • Tuck jumps.
  • Dot drills.
21 Sept 2022

What are 5 examples of agility training? ›

  • Ladder Drills. Using an agility ladder, select a method of moving through the ladder. ...
  • Hurdle Drills. Using either 6- or 12-inch hurdles (these can be cones, yoga blocks or whatever you have on hand), set five to 10 hurdles up in a row, parallel to each other. ...
  • Agility Balls. ...
  • Balloon Drills. ...
  • Cone Drills. ...
  • Medicine Ball Drills.
19 Mar 2014

What is the 5 10 5 agility test? ›

The 5-10-5 Shuttle or Pro Agility Test measures an athlete's ability to accelerate, decelerate, change direction, and re-accelerate as fast as possible. The athlete is evaluated on their ability to be explosive in their starts and turns while keeping their body under control to limit inefficient movements.

What are the 4 stages of the phases exercises in the correct order? ›

4 Phases of Exercise
  • Warming Up. Warming up is an essential part of your workout. ...
  • Stretching. Stretching is most effective when you're muscles are warmed up, so stretch after your warm-up routine then again after your cool down. ...
  • Conditioning. ...
  • Cool Down.

What are the 4 training phases? ›

The four phases in the HR training process are assessment, development, delivery, and evaluation.

What is the fastest way to train agility? ›

Fastest experience. It is recommended to boost the Agility level by using summer pies or agility potions to train on a higher-level course earlier than it is available. Low-level players are advised to bring food to heal themselves.

What foods increase agility? ›

In fact, certain types of carbs—like those found in apples and whole grains—promote sharper brain focus and quicker reflexes, making them a crucial component for fall prevention. Active adults gearing up for a post-injury fitness session will particularly benefit from diets rich in quinoa, brown rice, and oats.

What foods are good for agility? ›

Well selected, these foods allow you to have more energy, boost your performance, improve your concentration and accelerate muscle recovery.
Among them:
  • Rice.
  • Oatmeal flakes.
  • Eggs.
  • Chicken.
  • Fish.
  • Green vegetables.
  • Bananas.
  • Almonds.

What does Q mean in dog agility? ›

Qualifying scores

The goal of every competitor is to earn what is called a “qualifying score”. These scores count towards certain titles. As long as a run is under the SCT and free of faults, it is a qualifying run (also called a “Q”).

What is the most important command for a dog? ›

Stay. Arguably the most important command to teach your dog, “stay” will come in handy daily. For their safety and the safety of others, “stay” needs to be taught at an early age.

What are the disadvantages of agility training? ›

Cons: High-Impact: Risk of Acute Injury. Not Appropriate for All Ages and Populations. Not Appropriate for Athletes with Some Chronic Injuries.

How long should agility drills be? ›

The total time of agility training is usually around 15 to 20 minutes.

How long should you rest between agility drills? ›

Without sufficient rest periods, adaptations to speed, agility, and power production will be limited. The general rule is that you need 10-12 seconds of rest per second of output in order to replenish your CP stores between repetitions. In truth it can take 3-5 minutes depending on the length and intensity of effort.

Can I teach my dog agility at home? ›

Tips to Get Started

To get a taste of the sport at home, you can start training simple foundation skills and working with home-made obstacles like a large open box for a tunnel, or a hula hoop for a tire jump. There are also plenty of books and videos that walk you through training.

Is it better to drill slow or fast? ›

Drill at a Slow Speed

The faster a bit spins, the hotter it gets. And heat dulls bits quickly. In general, it's a good idea to drill through metal using as slow a speed as possible using a drill bit for metal. Hard metals like steel and larger drill bits require even slower speeds.

What is the best tool to test on agility? ›

Both speed and closed-skill agility tests require very little equipment. These tests can typically be accomplished with a stopwatch, a tape measure to set the course, and markers of the course, such as cones.

What shoes should I wear for agility training? ›

When training for speed and agility, athletes will greatly benefit from wearing a training shoe with a lower heel, a more stable and sturdy sole and superior lateral support. Try it yourself - wear your very comfortable, heavily cushioned running shoes and try to abruptly change direction.

Why do agility dogs bark so much? ›

Dogs use barking to communicate frustration, excitement, fear, impatience and even boredom. When it comes to dog agility, the majority of the barking is excitement and frustration.

Do dogs need to be intact for agility? ›

Yes, neutered dogs can compete in agility. In fact, in AKC agility it is a requirement that non-purebred dogs are neutered or spayed in order to enter an event. In other venues such as USDAA, competitors are allowed to show intact dogs of any breed or mix.

What height should my dog jump for agility? ›

The following jump height divisions shall be used in all trial Regular classes: 8 Inches: For dogs 11 inches and under at the withers. 12 Inches: For dogs 14 inches and under at the withers. 16 Inches: For dogs 18 inches and under at the withers.

What is a white dog in agility? ›

The white dog is a local dog that runs the course so the crowd can see where the course goes, the judge can review her handling path and theoretically, that those competitors that have an early draw can watch at least one dog run so they can “see” the course before they must run it.

What is a wrap in dog agility? ›

The term Jump Wrap or Wrap is used to describe both a handling maneuver and an obstacle sequence. It involves sending the dog over a jump and turning the dog tightly around the jump upright. So you'll hear this term used as “She wrapped her dog around jump 2” and “the course is two jumps in a row wrapping jump 2”.

When should a dog start agility? ›

Through the tunnel, over the jumps, and around the weave poles – the canine obstacle course known as dog agility is fun to watch and even more fun to do. However, although both pure-bred and mixed breed dogs are welcome, they must be at least 15 months of age to compete.

What is the most agile dog breed? ›

1. Border Collie. The ultimate dog when it comes to agility has to be the Border Collie. They have been bred to herd sheep and the same skills - along with their extreme intelligence - mean that they will tear around an agility course without a second thought.

Can all dogs do agility? ›

The “classic” agility dogs are herding breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds or Shelties. However, other breeds of dogs can enjoy and excel at agility just as much! Whether you have a Golden Retriever, Cavachon or Pitbull – they can all try out and have fun at this sport.

How many times a week should you do agility training? ›

Training for speed and agility is recommended for four times a week to acclimate your body and to develop muscle memory. While some days you may train harder than others, the most important factor in improvement is consistency.

Are male or female dogs better at agility? ›

As far as performance in the ring goes, there have been some great male dogs and some great females all around the world in agility. I think generally speaking the girls are quicker but the boys are faster.

What is the most common agility dog? ›

Top 10 Dog Breeds for Agility Training
  • #1 Border Collie. When most people picture agility training, a Border Collie immediately comes to mind. ...
  • #2 Jack Russell Terrier. ...
  • #4 Australian Kelpie. ...
  • #5 Standard Poodle. ...
  • #6 Papillon. ...
  • #7 Shetland Sheepdog. ...
  • #8 Pembroke Welsh Corgi. ...
  • #9 Rat Terrier.


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