The cool thing about training dog agility is that if you do it right, it's a blast for both dog and handler! Even if you have only a postage-stamp sized yard, you can still get started on becoming a competitive team (whatever "competitive" means to you, anyway).
Solo or Class Agility
One of the first decisions you'll need to make is
whether to teach your dog on your own or go to a class. Those of
you out in the boonies might not have any choice, although at one
point I drove 3 hours round trip (over a mountain range) to take
a series of classes. (Man, I sound like my Dad, telling us what
it was like when he was a kid and had to walk to school through
10 feet of snow. Picking sugar beets along the way. With no shoes
If you are able to, it's a good idea to take a class
at least initially. For one thing, agility is as much (more?) about
training the handler as the dog, and an instructor can make your
journey much less stressful. Plus, getting your dog used to the
equipment with a "pro" helping you out is very nice.
Once you and your dog know what's expected, training
on your own is great because you can go at your own pace and create
a series of lessons that are customized to your own needs. Over
to the left are the books that I *highly* recommend. That series
is wonderful for someone who's working on their own or just needs
some extra exercises between classes.
Common or Clicker
When we took agility classes our instructors were
teaching using the "old fashioned" method and it was just
fine. But I'm (now) really a big fan of clicker training and if
I was starting to learn agility now I'd try and find a clicker trainer.
However, even the folks (that I've been exposed
to) who don't do clicker agility training still use very positive
methods to get the desired results. After all, if your dog ain't
having fun, it'll be hard to get them flying around the course.
If you're not familiar with clicker training you
really should look into it. I'm not the kind of guy who jumps on
the newest bandwagon when it rolls on, but I've embraced clicker
One of the best places to get clicker gear (books,
videos, etc.) is at Karen
Pryor's website (she's the author of the classic "Don't
Shoot The Dog").
If you love teaching your dog new tricks, clicker
training is definitely the way to go. It's awesome!
If you'd like free tips and techniques on training your dog for
agility, please join our mailing
If you've never been to an agility trial and would
like to see a sample course, I've
included one on the site. The course shown is a small
training course that could be set up in just about any backyard.