15 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Dog Agility Training

Agility is a fun sport for dogs and their owners that gives both of them an opportunity to become more active. It’s also a great way to bond with your dog while having fun, which can lead to stronger relationships between people and animals. 

In this article, we’ll look at some common mistakes that new dog agility trainers make when starting out. If you’re thinking about joining an agility class but want to avoid these pitfalls, read on!

Dog Agility Training: 3 Big Mistakes All Dog Owners Should Know
– Agility training can be a fun and challenging way to bond with your dog.
– It’s important to avoid common mistakes during training, such as improper footwork or incorrect equipment setup.
– Starting training at the right time and building a strong foundation of basic skills can set you and your dog up for success in agility competitions.
– Expert advice and guidance can help handlers improve their techniques and take their training to the next level.
– With patience, persistence, and proper training methods, any dog can excel in agility competitions.

Muddling The Commands

It’s important to remember that agility training is a very physical sport, and your dog will be in constant motion when you’re running through the course. 

This means you need to be clear and concise with your commands, so they can be given from any angle and position while still being understood by both of you.

If possible, try practicing each obstacle separately before attempting them together so that the dog knows what is expected of them (such as “take it” or “over”). 

When teaching a new obstacle or sequence of obstacles keep the number of commands at three or four at most for each set up until it becomes second nature for both handler and dog.

Are you interested in learning how to train your dog for agility competition? Look no further than our comprehensive guide on mastering dog agility training! With tips and techniques from expert trainers, you’ll be able to take your canine companion’s agility to the next level.

Using Equipment As A Reward

When you’re training your dog, you should use equipment as a reward for completing an obstacle. For example, if your dog completes the jump, then he gets to run through the tunnel. Use equipment that’s not too difficult, so that they can’t do it first try and get a reward right away. You can also use toys and other rewards such as food or treats as well!

Common MistakeHow To Fix It
Mixing training equipment with toys or treats.Use separate rewards for training equipment and play toys.
Forgetting that equipment should be neutral and not motivating.Encourage focus on the task at hand and not on the equipment itself.
Failing to establish that training is independent of equipment.Use training techniques to teach skills and not rely on equipment to do the work.
Ignoring the importance of variety in reward types.Offer a range of rewards from playtime and affection to treats and praise.
Overemphasizing the importance of equipment mastery.Focus on foundational skills like obedience and balance rather than equipment mastery.

Getting Too Excited At Training

You want your dog to learn, not just repeat. It’s easy to get too excited about what your dog is doing and go overboard with treats or rewards. 

You want your dog to understand that agility training is not a competition and that there are no winners or losers, only accomplishments together as a team.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore rewards entirely when it comes to training. Rewarding good behavior is important for encouraging your canine friend’s understanding of the commands you are teaching him/her, but over-rewarding could cause confusion in the long run and potentially make things more difficult than they need to be

Wearing Your Dog Out With Agility Training

This is a common mistake that many agility owners make. They come home and flip on the TV, and their dog runs around the living room for an hour. 

This won’t help him get better at agility! In fact, it can be harmful to his health if you do this too often (exercising when tired causes injury).

Instead of allowing your pup to run around like crazy after class or practice, take him outside for a walk or play fetch with him instead. You can also give him some quality time cuddling with you on the couch in front of the TV!

Having Unrealistic Expectations

When you go into dog agility training, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Your dog may not be able to perform every obstacle perfectly, and that’s okay! 

Agility is a sport where every participant has a different level of experience and skill. So if your dog is struggling with something in one class, don’t get discouraged — just keep practicing!

It’s also important to remember that dogs are living creatures: they can get injured or sick at any time. If your dog isn’t feeling well on the day of an event, it’s okay to pull out; no one expects all dogs (or people) to compete when they aren’t feeling up for it.

Interested in agility training but not sure where to start? Check out our guide on getting started in dog agility training for helpful tips and tricks. With step-by-step instructions and expert advice, you’ll be on your way to training your furry friend in no time.

Forcing The Dog To Run An Obstacle

Force the dog to run an obstacle. Many people get caught up in having their dog go over a jump they can’t clear, or miss the last jump to get through the weave poles. 

When your dog is first learning agility obstacles, encourage them and praise them when they are successful. 

However, if you notice that your dog is not interested in going across an obstacle, do not force him or her to do something that he or she does not want to do. 

If your dog has mastered an agility obstacle, don’t make him go through it just because you feel it should be done every time! If a certain place has been mastered by your pet then stop there!

Giving Up Too Soon

We’ve all been there: You’re about to start a training session, and you notice that your dog is not listening. Frustrated, you decide that it’s best to just quit for the day. But before you do so, consider the following:

You are not a failure if you don’t complete an entire session or course of training!

If this has happened to you, take some time away from agility training before embarking on another journey with your pup. 

Remember that it’s important to remember that even though today may have been difficult or frustrating, it doesn’t mean tomorrow will be as well.

If possible, try practicing on things like jumps and tunnels at home until both of your skills improve enough to allow for success during practice sessions (and then eventually competitions).

Common MistakeHow To Fix It
Expecting too much progress too quickly.Set realistic goals for training progress and celebrate small achievements.
Losing patience with your dog.Focus on remaining patient and positive during training sessions.
Neglecting progress in other areas while focusing on a single obstacle.Keep track of progress across all training exercises and obstacles.
Giving up at the first sign of difficulty.Work with a trainer or participate in a class to overcome challenges.
Failing to recognize the importance of persistence and repetition.Consistency is key – keep training sessions consistent and don’t give up easily.

Bad Timing In Rewards And Punishments

  • Rewards and punishments should be given immediately after the action, not a few seconds later.
  • Don’t give rewards for something that has not yet happened.
  • Don’t punish for something that has not happened.
  • Don’t reward for something that has already happened (even if it was just a split second ago).

Not Giving Your Dog Enough Time To Practice With The Equipment

Let your dog get used to the equipment.

You may need to practice with your dog before you begin training them in agility. Letting your dog spend time with their gear and getting comfortable with it will help them learn faster and avoid mistakes later on.

Timing is key when it comes to dog agility training. Check out our article on when to start dog agility training for guidance on when to introduce your pup to the world of agility. From age restrictions to training readiness, we’ll help you determine the best time to start.

Not Giving Enough Attention To Detail

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of training and forget to focus on the details. Whether you’re working on a new obstacle or practicing an old one, it’s important to take time to make sure that your dog is comfortable with the equipment before moving on.

The most common mistake we see among handlers is rushing through obstacles without giving their dogs enough time for preparation and coaching. 

Many trainers will place their dog in front of an obstacle and immediately encourage them through, but this isn’t always effective! If you want your dog to succeed at agility, make sure they know what’s required of them before stepping onto the course.

Focusing Excessively On Just One Obstacle Type

You can’t just train one obstacle type. Remember, dogs are smart and will adapt to your training methods quickly. If you repeat the same pattern over and over again, your dog will learn how to beat it!

That’s why it’s important to vary the difficulty of obstacles:

Increase or decrease the height of an obstacle. This will change the distance that your dog needs to jump over in order to clear it successfully. 

It’s also a good way of adjusting for increased confidence levels as well as physical strength if they’re struggling with a lower height than normal, try raising it up a notch; if they’ve always cleared high-level jumps easily but are now getting tired after failing at several low-level attempts, try lowering down those obstacles instead.

Change when obstacles appear during training sessions so that your pet doesn’t get too comfortable with their position on your agility course (for example: place an A-frame on either side instead of having one directly behind another).

Common MistakeHow To Fix It
Placing too much weight on a single obstacle type.Focus on developing a wide range of skills across all obstacles.
Neglecting critical equipment and obstacle types.Train your dog on each obstacle type and incorporate them into training sessions.
Overemphasizing the importance of competition readiness.Prioritize foundational skills over competition-specific ones.
Failing to recognize your dog’s strengths and weaknesses.Take note of which obstacles your dog excels at and which ones need further work.
Ignoring skill progression for your dog.As your dog improves, gradually increase the difficulty and complexity of obstacles and training exercises.

Trying To Do Too Much At Once

If you want your dog to be successful in agility, then you need to focus on one skill at a time. Don’t try to teach too many new skills before they’ve mastered the old ones. 

It’s also important not to do too much in one training session. It is better for the dog’s mind and body if you break up their practice into smaller chunks of time instead of having them run around for hours on end.

Agility competitions are a fun and challenging way to bond with your dog. If you’re interested in training your pup for agility, our guide on the most effective ways to train your dog can help. From building a strong foundation to practicing with obstacles, these techniques will help set you up for success.

Striving For Perfection In Every Session

Remember, this is supposed to be fun! If you’re not having fun, then what are you doing? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. No one is perfect at everything they do and that includes agility! 

Your canine partner will have some off days as well as good ones; sometimes it pays just not to push your dog too hard on those bad days and keep the momentum going with a few easy runs instead.

The only thing that matters in training is whether or not your dog is learning something from each session so that he can improve over time. 

You don’t need to worry about other people thinking that your time would be better spent elsewhere because there WILL always be someone who thinks everyone else should be doing things their way, no matter what sport or hobby they participate in.

Forgetting To Focus On The Fun Factor

Don’t forget to focus on the fun factor. A big part of this sport is having a good time with your dog. Make sure you are having as much fun as possible, because if you aren’t enjoying yourself, then neither will your pup! 

If it isn’t fun for you or your dog, then why do it? Find ways to make training sessions more interesting and exciting for both of you by playing games between obstacles or challenging them with new exercises every once in a while.

Common MistakeHow To Fix It
Failing to incorporate play into training sessions.Include toys and games in training sessions.
Only focusing on technical aspects of training.Prioritize play and praise over technicalities.
Neglecting the dog’s enjoyment of the sport.Take note of which obstacles and games your dog prefers and incorporate them more frequently.
Not celebrating progress and milestones.Celebrate your dog’s achievements and progress with rewards and praise.
Forgetting that agility training is a team activity.Focus on building a strong bond and partnership with your dog during training sessions.


Agility is a fun activity for both you and your dog, so keep it that way! If you want to improve your training, the most important thing is to focus on having fun. 

That’s why we made this list: so that no matter what mistakes you may make in the future, we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

Further Reading

Want to learn more about dog agility training? Check out these helpful resources:

5 Common Dog Agility Mistakes That Can Ruin the Fun: This article discusses common mistakes handlers make during agility training and how to avoid them.

Are You Making These 10 Training Mistakes?: Modern Dog Magazine shares 10 common dog training mistakes and how to correct them.

Train your dog: Common mistakes to avoid: The AKC offers expert advice on common training mistakes and how to avoid them.


What is dog agility training?

Dog agility training is an active sport for dogs and handlers where they navigate through a series of obstacles such as tunnels, jumps, weave poles, and more.

What breeds are best suited for agility training?

Any breed of dog can participate in agility training, but some breeds tend to excel due to their athleticism and natural abilities. Some of these breeds include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Jack Russell Terriers.

How long does it take to train a dog for agility?

The length of training depends on the individual dog and the training regimen established by the handler. Some dogs may take weeks to learn a particular obstacle, while others may pick it up in one training session.

Can any dog participate in agility competitions?

Yes, any breed of dog can participate in agility competitions. However, dogs must meet age and health requirements and pass certain tests before being allowed to compete.

What equipment is needed for agility training?

Agility equipment includes hoops, jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and a variety of other obstacles. Handlers should ensure that they have access to the appropriate training equipment before beginning agility training with their dogs.