What is dog agility? Plus 3 things to consider before you start

May 03, 2023
Dog Agility

Here at OneMind Dogs we’re passionate about turning everyday moments with your dog into fun, mini-training sessions. Good dog training is not an event but rather a lifestyle. It should occur daily and be woven into your everyday activities with your dog. One of the most fun and exciting ways to do this is through agility foundation training! You might think dog agility is for super athletic people and dogs such as Border collies and Shelties. But we are here to show you that agility is for everyone and can be done anywhere!

Today, we’ll be introducing you to the super fun and addictive game that is dog agility, and covering topics like what is dog agility, how everyday play can turn into learning with OneMind Dogs, and some tips to help you get started.

Let’s dive right in with a bit about our philosophy!

The OneMind Dogs Approach to Agility

Every single lesson at OneMind Dogs is taught from the dog’s perspective. We believe humans have so much to learn from their pets, and we love helping them uncover the magic behind learning to communicate naturally with their dogs. When you focus on communicating in a way your dog inherently understands, dog training becomes SO much easier!

We teach people, not dogs, because dogs already understand our method!

How did we manage to crack the code on canine language? It’s all thanks to Tekla, our founder’s Border Collie who lost her hearing due to sudden onset deafness. As a result, her owner had to find new ways to communicate and train with her best friend who also happened to be a champion agility dog.

Our founder, Janita Leinonen from Finland, began to study Tekla and other dogs. She initially wanted to better understand her best friend, but she wound up discovering life-changing knowledge that has helped thousands of owners around the world.

Janita realized that dogs all speak and understand a shared language that human beings can learn, too. As we like to put it, a deaf dog taught us how to listen.

Don’t worry — you won’t have to learn how to bark or howl. We’ve translated “dog talk” into simple actions and principles that make training fun for dogs and easy for their owners.

This approach is illustrated best in our Foundation for Agility program, which helps handlers and dogs of all ages bond through this amazing sport. Let’s look more closely at what dog agility is and how it all got started.

What is agility all about?

When people hear “agility,” they tend to think about obstacles and intricate courses. But it’s really so much more than that! Yes, agility is a sport, but at its core, it’s a fantastic way to have fun and bond with your dog.

You never have to leave your living room or backyard to experience the joy of agility with your dog! In fact, we offer plenty of tips on how to make DIY agility obstacles and courses right in the comfort of your home.

From our point of view, agility is all about having a strong connection and seamless communication with your dog. There’s nothing else in the world like it!

Anyone who wants to learn can experience this magical connection with their dog — even without obstacles!

How did dog agility start?

The history of agility is still relatively short. It began in the 1970s in England, where it began as a demonstration sport. The first time anyone ever saw an agility trial was during the Crufts Dog Show in 1978.

Within a few years, agility was declared an official dog sport, and it’s continued to grow and achieve international recognition.

While competing can be a blast, this post isn’t about prepping your pup to earn any trophies. Instead, we want to show you how fun agility is and why it’s such an amazing way of connecting with your dog.

Training From the Dog’s Perspective

For us, agility is so much more than a sport. It’s a celebration of the connection dogs can form with their owners. When it finally “clicks,” you and your dog feel like two souls and one unified mind.

No matter what agility looks like for you and your dog, we want you to know that you can experience that magical connection. The OneMind Dogs approach has been specifically designed to focus on helping handlers of all backgrounds and experience levels discover this incomparable feeling for themselves and their dogs.

Here’s a video of one of our online students who started agility foundations in her lounge room through our Foundation for Agility program!

Agility Is for Every Dog and Person

Many people assume their dog can’t do agility because of its age, size, or breed, but that is a huge agility myth! In fact, puppies as young as 12 weeks old can start learning the basics, no obstacles required.

Even if you’re just in your living room, agility is an interactive experience that helps you and your dog communicate like never before. Our entire program is based around making dog agility accessible to every dog and person out there.

Remember, the main focus is for agility to be FUN! It doesn’t matter how your form looks or what your layout is. All you need is to focus on you and your dog’s bond and making it easy for your dog to understand the goal of the exercise. Doing so helps you give them more confidence and mental stimulation, which has huge benefits in other parts of their life.

Is your dog bored of the same old toys? Agility is a fun game for them that always feels new and exciting!

Wondering how to tire out a high energy puppy? We’ve got you covered! Agility engages their minds and bodies equally.

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert trainer or athlete, and your dog doesn’t need to be anything other than the amazing pooch it is right now. Just look at Tekla: She was a deaf Border Collie who still learned to compete in agility trials, and she loved every minute of it!

You Don’t Need to Be Young and Athletic to Love Agility

We just want to emphasize that when we say agility is for all, we really mean it! There are no specific requirements to be a good handler, and you can modify agility to suit your physical needs and abilities.

There are junior handlers not yet out of elementary school, and handlers just getting started in their 70s!

Even if you aren’t much of a runner, or you have limited mobility, you can be successful. Distance agility handling teaches you how to lead your dog successfully without having to keep up with their pace on the course.

So, if you have any reservations about agility because of age or physical ability, please keep an open mind. We promise that you can find an agility method and style that is safe and fun for you and your dog.

Here is one of our founders, having a “lazy day” and showing that you don’t need to be an athlete to do agility:

3 Things to Consider Before You Start

Now, let’s wrap up by covering the three biggest points to consider before you start training your dog in agility. Think of these as a helpful checklist to get you and your pup prepared for all the awesomeness that lies ahead.

1. Have you covered the basics?

The most essential requirement for agility is a connection with your dog. Even if you’ve recently added your four-legged friend to the family, you need to learn what they love and how to motivate them, especially when dogs and other people are around.

It’s okay if you’re just getting to know each other. Work on basic skills training, like recall and sit, so you can learn to trust each other.

You can consider yourself ready for agility training when:

  • Your dog regularly checks in with you (especially on walks)
  • They consistently come when you call their name
  • They stay focused on you when you ask

Not quite there yet? No problem. Check out our Puppy Basics program to learn how to cover these essential skills from the dog’s perspective. It’s easy, fun, and sets you up for a lifetime of happiness with your pooch.

2. Can your dog physically perform agility safely?

Our Agility Foundations course requires no obstacles to get started, so you won’t have to worry about them safely tackling jumps or weaving through poles. It’s the perfect way for all dogs to start agility training straight away. However, if you do decide to introduce obstacles down the track, you’ll want to make sure your dog is in good physical form beforehand.

We recommend taking your dog to the vet for a general safety check to make sure they can safely jump, weave, and tackle ramps without issue.

Also, remember to keep your dog’s mental fitness in mind, too. Keep sessions short—five or 10 minutes is just fine in the beginning! Make sure that your dog is always excited and having fun. When their attention wanes and they’re no longer engaged, it’s a good time to wrap up and try again later.

3. Do you know where you’ll train?

Training at home with online support is an amazing way to start teaching your dog agility. Our Foundation for Agility program is entirely self-paced and on-demand, so you can train whenever it’s convenient for you.

If you’d like to compete in agility in the future, then you’ll eventually need to join a local agility club, head down to the park with some obstacles or find a training coach near you. Your dog will need a lot of practice to get used to performing agility outdoors and around so many people and other pets.

There’s no rush, though. Start exactly where you are, have fun, and use the most accessible resources you have available to you today.

If you decide to sign up for a OneMind Dogs subscription, you’ll also get access to personalized video feedback from our trainers. We’re commonly told that being able to share videos helps take the guesswork and frustration so many newcomers experience. We’re here to support you!

Download our FREE “Ultimate dog agility starter kit” by filling out the form below:

You might also like…

Basic dog training commands all dogs should know

Basic dog training commands all dogs should know

In this article, we’ll share some basic training commands every dog should know. Whilst often referred to as commands or cues, these are just basic skills for everyday life. The words or commands don’t matter, how you teach them does.

Dog agility training for puppies: Essential tips and exercises

Dog agility training for puppies: Essential tips and exercises

Starting agility training for puppies isn’t about teaching them cool tricks on agility equipment. It’s about having fun together while building a high level of communication and connection. It’s where the joy of playing together meets the satisfaction of learning something new.

Subscribe to our Puppy Training newsletter!