A comment that I often hear during my Agility Classes is that I am very patient. I predominantly hear this after the person I am training has taken numerous attempts to complete a particular exercise.
Patience is a key virtue when teaching dog agility. Just like their human handlers, dogs vary in their ability to learn and process information. It’s important to understand that learning takes time. We must remember that both the handler and dog need to understand what is expected by a particular exercise.
For each training session it is important to set achievable goals and celebrate small victories. Each agility course comprises many different components and sequences that need to be navigated. Only by taking the time to learn how to handle each component separately is it possible to start to chain together the moves required to complete a full course. By sticking to manageable goals, the aim is to help prevent both you and your dog from becoming frustrated or overwhelmed.
Dogs and humans learn through repetition. This is why we must be prepared to repeat exercises multiple times until both handler and dog grasp the concept. Repetition helps reinforce learning and build muscle memory.
Dogs have different learning styles. Some respond well to verbal cues, while others may be more visual or tactile learners. Adapting the training to suit both the handler and dog’s learning style is key to mastering an exercise. Consistency is also crucial. Using the same commands and cues consistently helps your dog clearly understand what is expected of them.
Patience will go a long way in creating a successful and enjoyable training journey. Focus on the progress you and your dog are making rather than dwelling on what you haven’t mastered yet. Celebrate even smallest of achievements. Remember, agility training should be a fun and bonding experience for you and your dog.