I only started teaching agility back in March but I can honestly say it is one of my favourite disciplines. I've got a really fun bunch of dogs and people in my beginners group who all make it their priority to have fun whilst they are learning. I have a very particular approach to teaching agility in that I focus very heavily on building confidence and technical capability without rushing the dogs into all of the obstacles straight away. We have always had small jumps which can go a little larger to ensure the dogs understand about approaching the jumps from all different angles, building them into various grids and working on stride patterns and working on handlers timing and positioning. I have slowly built in a tunnel, weaves, pause table and a seesaw. I have been ensuring the dogs are confident in knowing their commands and are happy with the equipment before gradually building up distance and independence. Because of this we have a group of very able dogs who are also confident on the equipment they are working with.
I do not believe in rushing things, especially if competition is a possible end goal. But I also want everyone to enjoy themselves. To some it may seem like progression is slow as we haven't progressed onto all the other equipment yet, but I want to be sure the dogs know what they are doing and the handlers feel confident in their abilities. A lot of my exercises are set up specifically to get the handlers thinking how they will approach it with their dog. I've had a few remarks about it 'being hard' then realising that the dogs find it easy, it's the handlers that really have to think.
It's important to remember that an agility dog is only as good as it's handler so my exercises are there to test the handler as much as the dogs. For the dogs I include small achievable challenges each week which builds their confidence and ability slowly but surely, so even though most of my clients come for fun, at the end of the day they would be able to compete if they wanted. I want to do my job properly and efficiently and I train my clients and their dogs as I would train myself and my dogs. Confidence is very important with a sport such as agility, and fitness levels need to be built up as well. Without either you will not get very far in the sport. If you would like to see videos and photos of parts of my classes you can find them on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/K9-Co-operation-563735220336598/timeline/
Dog Trainer, animal lover, artist and photographer