What You Need to Know to Enter an Agility Trial

Are you thinking about entering an agility trial as a new exhibitor and not sure what to expect? This post will help you:

  • Find agility trials,
  • Understand what needs to be addressed to prepare for competing,
  • Learn the procedure for entering,
  • Explain the procedure after you enter,
  • Understand what a typical competition day looks like,
  • Learn how COVID-19 has affected the trials.

This post focuses on AKC agility. But there are also many other organizations you can check out if they are in your area. Each organization has different classes, strategies, goals, and ways of doing things. There is something for everyone out there! 

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Learning in an Agility Environment

Dogs that compete in agility trials must learn to focus in an incredibly energetic and electric environment. Barking dogs, running dogs, clapping, cheering, shouting spectators, handlers running, and many people and dogs surrounding the rings create a unique environment. It can be one of the most challenging places for our dogs to perform. 

And most of the dogs are not properly prepared when they start competing.

Agility trainers do a good job training obstacle performance and the handling needed for their dogs. But very few trainers train the skills that dogs need to effectively learn how to learn. That means that most dogs are not prepared to learn in classes or in seminars. 

The skills needed to learn in an exciting sport like agility are not always understood. And when the dog is not prepared properly or the trainer does not understand the fallout that occurs without these skills, the dog will learn unwanted behaviors. Behaviors that stem from frustration, confusion, and/or stress in the dog.

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Two Left Feet: An Alternative Approach to Footwork When Heeling

I have been teaching handling to obedience students for a long time. Some students have no issue incorporating and even changing their handling to use specific footwork. But most students have a lot of trouble keeping their footwork consistent. 

It might be easier without the dog and without a judge calling the heeling pattern. But insert the dog or the judge into the picture and you can get a stressed and paralyzed handler that get tied up into foot placement thoughts when there is a lot more handling to think about. These handlers worked many days, weeks, months, and some had worked years perfecting the footwork without the dog. 

Why does this happen?

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3 Steps To Solve Your Dog Training Problem

So, you have a training problem….

You are training your dog for obedience or agility competition and a problem erupts. How do you go about solving it?

Let's say you have been training your dog in obedience and all the Open exercises have been progressing smoothly. But now your dog has started to miss the drop cue on the drop on recall exercise. Or you have a dog competing in agility at the Open level. He had good performances in Novice. But recently your dog has been missing weave entries, after having nice weaves in Novice and in practice. How do you go about solving these problems?

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