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.

 Maximize the Learning

If you could maximize the learning and minimize the frustration for your dog and you as a handler, what would that mean for your future agility prospect?

It means that every minute of your training session is focused, and your dog understands what you expect. It means that you can trust your dog and your dog can trust you – mutual trust builds a strong relationship. It means you know how to structure a session to make training more effective. It means that you understand how to effectively communicate steps in the training process and your dog can predict the outcome. It means that frustration and confusion are reduced from your dog. 

It prepares you and your dog for the reduction and eventual elimination of rewards in the ring. It helps you and your dog develop a system of communication.

None of these things have anything to do with obstacle performance or running sequences. But they prepare you and your dog with skills that promote more efficient learning:

  • In a seminar,
  • In class,
  • Or in different training environments. 

The Glue Skills

These skills are the glue that hold the pieces of your training together in any environment. They will help your dog learn how to learn. They will help you learn how to train and listen to your dog.

Join me in my new class, "AG190 – The Glue for Future Agility Stars" starting on June 1st. In that class, we will look at skills that both you and your dog need to maximize the learning process.

Some of the many things your dog will learn:

  1. to relax,
  2. stationing
  3. focused wait
  4. release
  5. move away from reinforcement
  6. transport techniques
  7. ring entrance
  8. ring exit


Some of the many things you will learn:

  1. how to better understand your dog,
  2. how to improve communication with your dog,
  3. how and why and where to use event markers,
  4. how to set up efficient training sessions,
  5. to split training into smaller pieces,
  6. how to enjoy training again


When your dog has mastered the skills laid out in this class, s/he will be much better able to handle the agility class or seminar environment. You and your dog will have skills that can move you forward to become future agility rock stars. Glue is magic!

E167: Loretta Mueller - "Jumping Foundations"
E166: Dr. Lore Haug - "Classical Conditioning & Ne...