Oundle and District Dog Training Society does not do agility but some of the dogs in the classes go on to train to take part in this popular canine activity

Starting Agility Training

Ziggy doing agilityZiggy was my first cocker spaniel, who I had from a puppy and we attended obedience training at Oundle and District Dog Training Society for a couple of years before I thought it might be good fun to do something more active with him. He was such a bright dog with lots of energy. I got in touch with an agility club and we headed off to our first beginners class.

I was pleasantly surprised to find dogs of various breeds and sizes all having a go. Each dog was categorised according to height, small, medium or large,  and I was relieved to find that the jump heights were altered accordingly.  The trainer was lovely and very supportive,  she helped us to tackle each piece of equipment separately to start with so that we could both learn what was required and so that Ziggy could get used to the strange but very scary objects that covered the arena.  Even the weave poles were too much for him and initially I couldn’t persuade him to go through any of them. Nevertheless we persevered for a few weeks keeping Ziggy on lead to guide him through the courses safely. Slowly but surely his confidence grew.  In no time at all we were working off lead and negotiating the courses that were set. The see-saw was another matter and it took a year for Ziggy to master it without titbits to lure him because it was sooooo scary.

ZiggyNow he loves it all and is pretty good at it until his spaniel nose distracts him or I get lost halfway round the course!  It really helped to have some basic obedience training before starting.  ‘Stay ‘or ‘Wait’ is an important command and having a reasonable recall is needed to avoid complete chaos! Apart from that you can learn as you go.

When we got our second cocker spaniel, a 3 year old called Masie, I taught her some basic obedience commands and then took her to agility training with Ziggy.  I wasn’t sure she’d enjoy it as she’s a bit of a wimp really but she absolutely loved it, even more than Ziggy and really got into the swing of it.  We’ve entered some of the fun events in singles, pairs and teams and even won a few rosettes.

Agility is a wonderful sport, there are fun days or more serious competitions you can enter throughout the year or you can just go to classes for the sheer enjoyment of it.  If you don’t fancy joining a club or want to practice at home,  agility equipment that is suitable for the garden is also available to buy.  Either way it’s great fun and exercise for both you and your four-legged friend and keeps your brain active too, so why not give it a try!                       

Anne Baty-Symes, Ziggy and Masie

Anne with Ziggy & Masie

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