Hi, my name is Sebastian Zang and I am a dog trainer based out of Baraboo,WI.
I had the pleasure to be one of Fern’s “Ferndog Academy” students and during one of our coaching calls I was rambling on about how I love doing agility with my dogs and explained why it is awesome.
Fern asked me if I wanted to do a guest blog for him and I happily obliged.
So here it is!
Let’s start with WHY I began doing agility. Frankly, I worked with a fantastic local dog trainer for about a year and during that year he exposed me to all kinds of dog sports, including agility. I saw how he and his dogs performed and was in awe! I thought to myself “I want that kind of relationship and teamwork with my dogs, too!”
We started with the basic agility training and boy was it frustrating for a while – agility is a great learning tool and it certainly helped emphasize the “it’s not the dogs fault, it’s mine” rule.
From a dog owner / trainer perspective, dog agility helps you understand how to motivate your dog, how to be a good trainer and handler. If your dog fails at an obstacle, misses a jump or flat out refuses to do the teeter, then it is MY fault for not making it fun enough or for not being precise enough.
Oh, have I mentioned that this sport has to be absolutely positive? It has to be, your dog should have fun non stop! The only “punishment” should be to stop doing the obstacle course and restart at the missed obstacle and therefore making your dog work harder for the reward.
With agility training my dogs and I became a much tighter team, relying on each other, for eye contact, precise directions and constant attention. The “watch” command isn’t needed at all anymore, I have my dogs constant attention thanks to agility, they are looking at me, to provide them with commands, directions and praise.
Not only does it strengthen your bond, your teamwork and you overall relationship with your dog, it is one of the best workouts you can give a dog. It is physically exerting and mentally stimulating. Usually I run my dogs 3-4 times through an obstacle course and they are pooped. Really pooped. To the point where they lay down and pass out. A tired dog is a good right, right?
On top of that, my dogs are always excited to go outside, because there could be possibility of tossing a ball, catching a frisbee or playing tug. All these rewards work great for agility rewards as well. If your dog has a preference make them work for it.
Again agility is a great way to make your dogs understand that they need to work for the reward, rather than using the old fashioned “bribe” method. When you have a dog willing to work for a reward it makes them more energetic, more responsive and they try a lot harder to do the right thing. All of this with just one sport; dog agility.
In the end the agility course itself will be a reward for your dog as they learn to enjoy the jumping, weaving, tunnels, etc.
If you ask around in your area I am sure you will find trainers and facilities that offer agility training. Give it a try!
Here are two clips of Sebastian working with his dogs:
Sebastian Zang graduated from my online dog trainer course and is doing great things and helping lots of dogs in Wisconsin. Check him out at naughtypawsdogtraining.com