Agility classes for dogs

If you are wondering whether to take your dog to agility classes or not, maybe mine and Ralph’s experiences will help you to decide.
Ralph, from being a small puppy was clearly made for agility. One of his favourite games was having me or anyone else chase him around the garden to get his ball or toy of the moment from him. He could turn on a pin and would run around the garden at full pelt just keeping himself just out of reach. He would jump obstacles that got in his way if you tried to corner him or manoeuvre himself around them if they were too big. Now all of this is quite exhausting. For me not him, and I could get quite dizzy.
With this in mind I looked for an agility class near to me. Most dogs trusts will run them but I was looking for a one-to-one session for Ralph. I wasn’t about to embarrass myself in front of others.
Luckily the lady I found by looking on my local spotted site on Facebook was perfect from the off. Ralph and I both took to her and we have been going once a week since he was 6 1/2 months old.
I soon learned that it was not just about Ralph but that I am supposed to lead him, and most of his mistakes have been because I directed him badly. This was all a lot of fun and games as I am useless with coordination and left and right does not come naturally to me. A dodgy eye also means I often see the jump too late and have had to jump it myself. Thankfully as he is a small dog the poles are not too high.
All of this just made the sessions more fun and those short bursts of running did not hurt with my weight loss and fitness regime. I only take him to have fun and to give his brain a work out. Toy poodles are very intelligent and they need brain exercise as well as the general exercise of walking.
He learns very quickly and is generally fearless. He was not fazed by the tunnel, the See Saw or the A frame. In fact, he chooses to do the See Saw even when not asked. You do however need to keep him on point during the 30 minute session as if left undirected his mind wanders to other things. The sheep in the next field were chased over 3 fields as we were chatting and he escaped from the working area into the adjacent field. Not his finest moment but he makes up for it by being really good at the actual agility exercises.
I would highly recommend agility classes for dogs and especially poodles even if you do not want to get to competition level. It gives your dog discipline and helps you as the owner to understand your dog and the commands you give him. These weekly half an hour sessions help me with his other training too. They are always fun and Ralph knows where we are going when Monday comes around and oh boy does his tail wag. Maybe it’s all the treats he gets when he has completed the set course but whatever it is he definitely responds well and performs as asked.
Photographs courtesy of Lucy Muir of Crazy Dogs Agility.
This is something you should at least try. It may work for you or it may not but you will have had some fun in trying.
Please feel free to comment below on any of your own agility class stories. The good the bad and the ugly. Did I mention I managed to trip over the sand bag that holds the tunnel in place last week?
I am always happy to receive your photographs for my doggie rogues gallery. You can send them to karen@trainingmytoypoodle.com
With Grace and Gratitude
Karen & Ralph