Agility is a sport for dogs that has been growing more and more in Brazil. It is a kind of circuit for dogs that, during the course, has the presence of several obstacles and equipment to exercise the pet, physically and mentally. But, although it is becoming popular among guardians, many people still have doubts about this sport. Thinking about it, the Paws of the House talked to the professional Camila Rufino , who is a behaviorist trainer and Agility trainer at Tudo de Cão . See what she told us and get all your questions about it!
What is agility for dogs and what does this sport consist of?
Camila Rufino: Agility emerged in 1978 at the Crufts Dog Show, a major international dog show held annually in the United Kingdom. The initial idea was to entertain the public during the breaks of this event, displaying a jumping course for the handler and dog, demonstrating the speed and natural agility of dogs. Due to the great success, Agility was recognized by the Kennel Clubas an official sport in 1980, having from then on a set of sanctioned rules. The sport arrived in Brazil in the late 1990s and has since attracted dog lovers to practice it.
It is a sport based on equestrianism, where the handler must lead his dog using only gestures and verbal commands, on a course with several obstacles, following specific rules in each of them.
What agility equipment and obstacles are used on these circuits?
CR: In Agility, the dog circuit with obstacles and equipment can be made up of different elements, such as: seesaw, ramps, wall, tunnels, distance, tire and jumps. In competitions, the judge is responsible for setting up each course that must be run in the shortest possible time, without the pair making detours or knocking down obstacles. The assembly of the courses is done according to thelevel of difficulty each dog is at: beginners, Grade I, II and III.
What are the main benefits of the dog circuit?
CR: In addition to providing physical and mental energy expenditure, the practice of this sport is an excellent socialization tool; it helps in the prevention and resolution of some behavioral problems and greatly increases the bond between dog and owner.
We cannot fail to mention the benefits for us humans: the practice of sport helps us to improve our ability to understand and communicate better with our dog. It is a time when we can also socialize with other students and their dogs, make new friends and, of course, improve (and a lot!) our health and physical fitness.
Agility: can dogs of all ages and breeds participate or are there contraindications?
CR: Any dog, whether or not it is a breed, can practice Agility as long as its health conditions allow it. What we need to understand is that, just like humans who must seek a responsible doctor to check if we can perform a certain physical activity before starting it, the same must be done when it comes to our dogs. That is, it is necessary to take into account the state of health of the dog.current health (with evaluation and clearance from the veterinarian), the specific characteristics of each breed (as, for example, with brachycephalic dogs, which require care on days of high temperatures; or even dogs that have some tendency to present problems in the spine - for these the jumps are never high); the age phase in which they are (puppies and older dogs), looking forAlways respect the individuality of each one! Any dog, before running on a track with the heels raised, must start with all of them on the ground, otherwise we end up demanding from him two behaviors at the same time, that of jumping and that of being led through the course.
So do puppies need special care to participate in agility?
CR: When we talk specifically about young dogs, we must always respect the growth period of the entire bone structure of the puppies. That is, for these dogs we do not raise the jumps until the growth period is fulfilled. In addition, the intensity and duration of the exercises must also be appropriate for each phase of your dog. It is also very important that the dog always exercises ina safe floor; it should never be too slippery when performing the exercises.
Agility: does the dog need to go through some kind of training before starting the sport?
CR: Ideally, your dog should know how to respond to some basic obedience commands, such as sit, lie down, stay and come when called. Just as we humans need a routine of activities to keep us balanced, it is important that your dog also has daily physical, mental and social activity. You can insert them into your daily life with your dog by taking walks on the street,squares and parks (physical and social activity) and you can also use his meal times to perform obedience command exercises (mental activity), thus ensuring that in addition to occupying his little head with daily challenges, he will have plenty of appetite to train.
Agility: training should be introduced into dogs' routines in what way?
CR: Training should be introduced into the routine gradually, always respecting the individuality of each dog and the stage of life in which he is. Before looking for an Agility school, you can train extremely important commands for sports practice, such as "sit", "lie down" and "stay". In addition, working on the bond, motivation and self-control with your dog is essential.
How to make dog circuit at home and other places?
CR: As for training at home or places other than an official school, it is possible to teach your dog using equipment easily found in everyday life, such as cardboard boxes to replicate the tunnel, cones and trees in parks to train curves, PVC pipes to assemble your own jumps, etc. within this context of training, it is extremely important that they are also insertedwarm-up exercises; exercises that develop motor skills and strengthen muscles so that our dog is physically prepared to practice this high-performance sport.