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How Agility Builds Confidence in Your Dog

Building Confidence in your Dog with Agility Training

Is your dog timid around people or other dogs?  Is your dog sensitive to sounds?  Agility training can provide the environment and structure to build confidence in your dog.  Agility classes are a great place for people to learn about the sport and learn how to train, but the timid dog may take a long time before he is ready to venture from under your chair or off your lap.

A timid or shy dog can only learn inside their comfort zone.  So, training must begin where they feel safe and behaviors must be taught in very small increments. Home will probably be the best place to train and have learning take place for your dog.

How to Train at Home

So, how do you train at home?  You will need guidelines and equipment. There is a multitude of websites that can give you information on agility training.  There are also books and videos that will give details and visual aids and lesson plans for beginners thru expert levels.

build confidence in your dog

There is a variety of equipment that is useful and helpful to have at home.  Equipment recommendations are based on your available space and location of training.  Do you have a large yard that will hold 10 obstacles? Do you have a small yard where you will need setup equipment and then tear down before you can setup again?  Will you be training in your garage or basement, or as some agility addicts, in your living room.

Timid or Skittish Dogs

For the timid dogs make sure your equipment is safe and sturdy.  The pause table is a good place to begin your agility training.   A 12” high pause table, with adjustable legs for later use, is a good starting place for all size dogs. Remember with your shy dog, setup your table in an area that is very familiar to your dog.  If your dog barks at anything new, just leave your pause table in your house or yard for several days, let your dog inspect and smell it on his own or with a little coaxing, but don’t push to fast, remember baby steps with the insecure dog.  With treats in a dish or his favorite toy placed on the table encourage your dog to get up on the table.  This may take more than one lesson, be patient.  If your timid dog looses interest in food or toys when you attempt something new, trying holding him and you sit on the table.  If your dog is too big to hold, have him on leash and you sit on the table.  If he backs away coax him, only treat or reward him when he comes to you, never when he’s pulling back away from you or the table.

Eventually, you want your dog to be able to jump on the table with your cue word, “Table”, “Box”, “Kennel”, whatever word you use, Stay on the table as you back away and then Come when you call. Build your distance slowly so that your dog is not pushed to soon.

From Pause Table to Contact Trainer is a nice transition for shy dog.  A Contact Trainer comes in different designs.  We recommend a 3-Piece Contact Trainer that has one mini A-frame side, a Pause Table, and then a mini Dog-walk side.  Your dog can Sit on the table and then be coaxed down the A-frame side or the Dog-walk side.  Just remember with the shy dog, training is done in increments, slowly and comfortably, with a little push to stretch him, but not enough to overwhelm him to cause a shutdown.

You can follow the above techniques introducing new obstacles as your dog is able to succeed.  As your dog succeeds on each new piece of equipment you will see his confidence grow.

How Dog Supplements Can Help

You may wonder how a natural dog supplement may be able to help your timid or skittish dog build confidence. BuffK-9’s True Champion Dog 2.0 formula contains adaptogen herbs to help your dog adapt to different stresses. Whether your dog has any mental or physical stress, True Champ has the solution to your problems. Also see Buff-Hemp Oil for Dogs, as this supplement has many benefits for dogs under stress and anxiety.

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4 to 8 Dog Agility Jumps Makes Ideal Training

Dog Agility Jumps

dog agility jump, boxer, pitbull, buffk9
We are often asked, “How many jumps should I start with?”  You can never have too many single jumps to practice dog agility jumps.  A good starting place is four jumps.  This is the absolute minimum number of jumps that we recommend.

You can teach a variety of skills, drills, and exercises with four jumps.  Four jumps will allow you to work on a short jump chute or jump grid.  You can setup a “box” with your jumps and practice handling, collection, and 270 degree jumps.  You can teach your dog jumping left and right.  You can be outside the box and send your dog or you can handle from the inside of the box.  Your jumps can be setup in a horizontal line, so that you can practice serpentines and threadles.

Go the next step and get eight dog agility jumps.  Now you can setup two boxes with one introductory jump.  You’ve now multiplied your drills that you can practice with your dog.  Your jump grids can be of recommended size and quantity of jumps.  You can also setup your jumps in a circle with the jump bars perpendicular to the circle or on the circumference of the circle.  This pattern also enables you to train a variety of skills.

Your next consideration is a double jump and a triple jump.  You could set two or three single jumps together to make your expanded jump, but having double and triple jump in your course work is really valuable to practice.  We’ve seen many dogs run a clean course and the last obstacle is a triple and the dog is not prepared for it, and bang, down comes the bar.

You can really be ahead of the pack and have two sets of eight dog agility jumps.  This is the ultimate in training because you can keep a jump grip up at all times that is separate from your course work, and have eight single jumps to have for course work.  And when you include your double and triple, you can really practice all the jumping skills and drills necessary to get you those “Qs”.