Teaching Directional Commands For The Dog Agility Beginner

Playing,​ training or​ working your dog is​ incredibly rewarding. Dogs are generally friendly,​ responsive,​ and quick-to-learn. Agility training is​ a​ healthy sport for both canine and owner,​ as​ it​ gets you​ outside and active building your bond in​ the​ fresh air. We see dogs of​ all shapes,​ sizes,​ and breeds (including mixed breeds) come into their own when presented with a​ bit of​ agility training. This really is​ a​ great way to​ keep you​ and your dog fit,​ physically and mentally. the​ experience of​ being out of​ doors,​ working with "Prince,​" "Rover,​" or​ "Rex" is​ stimulating,​ and lets you​ experience the​ immense capacity that dogs have for fun and challenge.

Agility is​ a​ fun team sport that you​ and your dog can enjoy together. Agility is​ a​ combination of​ Advanced off-leash obedience,​ Directional commands,​ and Obstacle familiarization. in​ order for your dog to​ have off-leash control to​ run around a​ 100’ x 100’ ring,​ you​ first want to​ develop that control on​ leash. Control behaviors that are beneficial for your dog to​ have are “Come”,​ “Sit”,​ “Down”,​ and “Stay”. Your dog does not have to​ be perfect at​ these commands,​ but the​ better he is​ the​ more you​ can accomplish with the​ actual running and playing of​ agility. the​ formal obedience “Heel” on​ the​ left side is​ not necessary for agility because you​ will be working with your dog on​ both your left and right sides. you​ can develop these behaviors from your own training or​ taking classes. There are a​ multitude of​ books on​ the​ market on​ obedience training.

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. This can occur when he is​ facing you​ and turns away or​ when he is​ at​ either your left or​ right side,​ and turns away from you. We teach Directional Commands using a​ table. For training we use 12” high agility tables for all dog sizes. First the​ dog must be comfortable jumping up on​ the​ table. Once he is​ comfortable on​ the​ table,​ use his Sit-stay or​ Down-stays on​ the​ table. Develop your distance away from him slowly. Release your dog to​ you​ with Come.

Place your dog in​ a​ Sit-Stay about 3’ from the​ table,​ facing it. Leave your dog in​ a​ sit,​ walk to​ the​ other side of​ the​ table,​ call your dog,​ “Come Table”. When he gets on​ the​ table step toward him and praise him. This will help prevent him from jumping off the​ table to​ come to​ you. Build your dog’s distance from the​ table,​ move him away from the​ table in​ increments,​ 4’,​ 6’,​ 8’,​ and so on. as​ your dog is​ comfortable coming to​ you​ and sitting on​ the​ table,​ the​ next step is​ for you​ to​ build your distance from the​ table as​ you​ call him to​ the​ table. Build your distance also in​ increments. Have your dog sitting 10’ from the​ table,​ you​ walk to​ the​ other side of​ the​ table about 6’ away from the​ table,​ call your dog,​ “Come Table”. Build your distance slowly so that your dog can succeed at​ staying on​ the​ table.

Starting from about 3’ from the​ table,​ with your dog on​ leash,​ you​ are both facing the​ table,​ send your dog to​ the​ table by saying,​ “Go Table”. you​ may need to​ extend your arm,​ point or​ step to​ toward the​ table. Practice this until your dog is​ able to​ go to​ the​ table without you​ having to​ place him on​ the​ table. Practice with the​ dog on​ both your left and right side. When the​ dog is​ on​ your left side use your left arm to​ point to​ the​ table,​ and when the​ dog is​ on​ your right side point with your right arm. Develop your distance so that you​ can send your dog easily from 30’.

Now,​ its time to​ teach the​ next Directional Command,​ “Back”. Have your dog on​ leash again,​ and start from 3’ away from the​ table,​ but this time your dog is​ sitting on​ the​ ground facing you​ with the​ table behind him. From your dog sitting tell him,​ “Back Table”. Extend your arm pointing to​ the​ table and guide him with the​ leash if​ necessary until he understands the​ new word. Practice sending your dog to​ the​ table several times using your Left arm,​ “Back Table”,​ extending your left arm. Then practice with your Right arm pointing to​ the​ table,​ “Back Table”. When your dog is​ turning to​ go to​ the​ table then start building your distance from the​ table. These are three very versatile commands that you​ can use and develop on​ all obstacles and throughout an​ agility run.

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