The Dos And Don’ts Of Dog Agility Training

Agility is a sport that consists of courses designed to challenge the handler’s ability to handle their dog through an obstacle course. Dogs and handlers compete against each other as individuals or in teams of two, three or four dogs. 

The first race was held in 1990 at Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City and since then this sport has become popular all over the world. 

Agility requires some specialized equipment so it may be expensive for beginners but once you have everything set up you can start training your dog right away!

How to get started in Dog Agility | Dog Tips and Tricks – YouTube
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Agility Training
– Starting with basic obedience training is key to successful dog agility training.
– Dog agility training can provide many benefits, including physical and mental stimulation for your dog and bonding experiences for owners.
– Proper warm-up and cool-down routines, training on safe equipment, and avoiding overtraining are important for injury prevention.
– Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train your dog, while punishment and negative reinforcement can harm your dog’s well-being and impede progress.
– Consistency, patience, and persistence are important values to keep in mind during dog agility training.

Do Be Patient

Be patient with your dog. There will be times when you have to be patient with yourself, other people and the progress of your dog’s training. 

If your dog is having a hard time learning something or simply doesn’t want to try it for some reason, don’t get frustrated or upset. Just keep practicing and make sure that everyone involved is having fun!

The most important thing you can do for your dog in agility training is patience because there are going to be times when he doesn’t want to listen or concentrate on what he’s doing. 

As long as he has fun playing around the course with his handler (and getting treats), then that’s all that matters.

If you want to train your dog for agility competitions, it’s important to start with the basics. According to our article on how to train your dog to protect your home, the first step to protecting your home is to establish a strong foundation of obedience training.

Do Use Positive Reinforcement

Reinforcement is an important part of training your dog to be good at agility. The goal of reinforcement is to reward your dog for doing what you want him or her to do. 

You can use food treats, praise or petting as a way of reinforcing good behavior in agility training. 

It’s important that you start out with small rewards when teaching your dog new skills so that he or she understands that it’s okay for them to perform the action and receive the reward afterwards.

When first teaching your dog how to weave through obstacles on the track, give him a small treat every time he successfully goes through one without getting confused about where he needs to go next.

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in getting treats while running along an obstacle course, try adding positive encouragement like “Good job” alongside giving them their treat each time they complete an obstacle well.

Positive Reinforcement FactorDescription
TreatsUse delicious and nutritious treats to reward your dog when they perform well. Consider using high-quality treats like Blue Buffalo or Zuke’s for optimal training results.
PraiseUse positive verbal cues like “Good job!” and “Well done!” to reinforce good behavior.
ClickerConsider using a clicker during training sessions to associate the sound with positive reinforcement. Brands like Downtown Pet Supply or PetSafe offer affordable clickers for beginners.
Love and AffectionShow your dog love and affection to reinforce their good behavior.
ConsistencyConsistently use positive reinforcement tactics to reinforce good behavior and encourage progress.

By incorporating these positive reinforcement techniques into your dog’s agility training, you can help your dog learn and grow while building a strong bond based on trust and mutual respect.

Do Start With Basic Commands

In order to start agility training, the first thing you’ll want to do is get your dog used to the course. This means taking your dog on walks around it and getting them accustomed to different obstacles without actually training. 

For example, if there are jumps involved in your course and your dog isn’t used to jumping over things yet, start by putting treats near each obstacle so they can smell them but don’t actually have to jump over anything. 

Once they’re comfortable with doing that obstacle, move onto having them walk through it once or twice before rewarding them with a treat.

This is also an opportunity for you both as a trainer and owner (or “handler”) of the dog(s) being trained as well as their friends/family members who may be interested in learning how to train their own dogs as well!

Dog agility competitions require skill, training, and dedication from both the dog and the owner. If you’re interested in dog agility, be sure to check out our article on the most effective ways to train your dog for agility competitions, which provides expert advice on training techniques and tips for success.

Do Use Food As Reward

One of the most important things you can do as a dog trainer is to reward your dog when they’re doing something good. 

When you reward your dog with food, it’s a great way to let them know that they did something right. It’s also a great way to keep them motivated and interested in training because offering them treats will remind them that there are rewards at stake!

If you’re interested in having some fun with your dog without making it about teaching new skills, then this is the perfect time for using food as a reward. 

This type of playtime exercise can help strengthen their bond with each other while still letting you give praise when needed.

Food Reward FactorDescription
Type of TreatsUse high-quality, nutritional treats that are safe for your dog to eat. Brands like Blue Buffalo, Zuke’s or Purina offer a variety of training treats that are perfect for agility training.
Portion ControlUse small, bite-sized treats to prevent overfeeding and promote healthy snacking.
TimingReward your dog immediately after a successful performance to reinforce the desired behavior.
VarietyMix up the types of treats you use to keep your dog engaged and interested in training.
Use with Positive ReinforcementPair food rewards with positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behavior and build a strong bond.

When used correctly, food rewards can be a powerful tool in dog agility training, providing an effective and positive way to encourage good behavior and build a strong bond with your furry companion.

Do Be Consistent

The importance of consistency cannot be overstated. Dogs need consistency in their training, and this is true whether you’re training your dog yourself or working with a professional agility trainer like me!

The most important part of being consistent is following through with what you say. If your dog doesn’t know what “down” means, it won’t matter if you tell him “down!” seven times in a row if he’s not going to do it when asked. 

The only way for your dog to learn what down means is through repetition and practice and that means actually doing it every single time he hears the command, whether there are distractions present or not.

The best way to be consistent with commands is by setting up certain times during each day where you’ll work on them (for example: after breakfast or before bed). 

This way your puppy will know exactly when he’s going to hear those commands so that he can pay attention and learn them more easily.

Consistency FactorDescription
Training ScheduleDevelop a consistent training schedule that works with your dog’s natural rhythm. Consider using a brand like Tractive GPS Tracker to track your dog’s activity levels and adjust your training schedule as needed.
Positive ReinforcementUse positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to reinforce good behavior and keep your dog motivated. Consider using a brand like Zuke’s or Blue Buffalo for high-quality training treats.
Training CommandsUse consistent commands for each obstacle and stick to them to avoid confusion.
EnvironmentTrain in a consistent environment. Avoid moving obstacles around and make sure the training location has minimal distractions.
HandlerThe handler should also remain consistent and use the same body language and verbal cues to avoid confusing the dog.

Don’t Put Your Dog On The Equipment Too Soon

Before you go crazy and put your dog on the equipment, make sure they can handle it first. A lot of people make the mistake of putting their dog on the agility course before they are ready to do so. 

While some dogs can be trained to do most things at an early age, others need more time to get comfortable with being on a leash or walking over different surfaces. Some dogs will take longer than others so don’t rush them into performing something that might scare them!

Dog agility training is not only great for building confidence and discipline in your dog, but it can also be a lot of fun for both you and your pet. In our post on the secret to a happy and well-trained dog: agility training, we explore the benefits of agility training and how to get started.

Don’t Lose Your Patience

Before you can train your dog to do agility, it’s important to train yourself on how to be patient with your dog. Agility is a long-term goal that requires patience and consistency. 

If you lose your patience during training sessions, it will be harder for the two of you to work together and keep going in the right direction. 

You also want to avoid punishing your dog for mistakes. The last thing they need is more pressure! If they don’t understand what you’re asking of them or how they can do better next time, they might just give up altogether.

In addition to being patient with yourself when working with your pup, try not being too hard on them either! Don’t yell at them or get angry if something doesn’t go exactly according to plan; instead, offer positive reinforcement (like treats) when making progress towards accomplishing an obstacle.

Don’t Use Aversive Methods And Devices On Your Dog

The biggest thing you can do to ensure your dog’s safety is to use positive reinforcement and avoid the use of aversive methods and devices. 

These include shock collars, choke chains, prong collars, or any other method or device that puts pressure on your dog’s neck or snout in order to get them to obey commands.

Some trainers will tell you these tools are necessary for obedience training, but they’re not. In fact, if you want your dog to behave well in public (or at home), it’s better not to use these tools at all! Using these tools can increase aggression in dogs because they’ll associate pain with commands like “sit” or “stay.” 

Also keep in mind that even if using these tools doesn’t cause behavioral issues right away it still might go down the road. 

You’ll never know when an issue may arise from something as seemingly harmless as a leash attached to a collar around your dog’s neck so why risk it? If anything else seems wrong then consult with an expert trainer about what changes should be made immediately – whether this means hiring one yourself or adopting another type of training method altogether

Dog agility training can benefit both you and your pet in many ways. In our article on the top 15 benefits of dog agility training, we cover everything from physical and mental health benefits for your dog to bonding experiences and stress relief for owners.

Don’t Forget To Care For Their Physical Needs

Dogs need physical exercise, both in the form of structured training sessions and free playtime with you and other dogs outside. 

They also need mental stimulation through toys like Kongs (a dog toy that can be stuffed with treats or peanut butter), puzzle toys like Buster Cube, or even interactive games on your iPad! And last but not least, they need socialization and lots of it! 

Taking your pup to the dog park will help him practice his social skills as well as learn some important lessons about canine behavior. 

Other places you can bring your pup are daycare centers where he’ll get to play with other dogs while you’re at work; puppy classes which give him an opportunity to interact with other pups of his age group; doggy play dates at friends’ homes; and even just going on walks around town so he can meet new people along the way.

Physical NeedDescription
NutritionMake sure your dog is receiving a well-balanced diet that includes high-quality protein and proper nutrients. Consider feeding them a brand like Purina or Hills for optimal canine nutrition.
HydrationAlways have fresh water available for your dog before, during, and after training sessions.
Warm-up and Cool-downIncorporate proper warm-up and cool-down routines to prevent injury and allow for proper muscle recovery.
RestGive your dog plenty of rest between training sessions to prevent overtraining and exhaustion.
First AidKeep a first-aid kit handy and know how to properly care for your dog’s minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and blisters. Consider using a brand like Pet First Aid for a complete kit.

Don’t Force Them To Go Up On Equipment If They Show Signs Of Fear Or Discomfort

Don’t force them up on equipment if they show signs of fear or discomfort. If your dog is fearful of something, don’t put them in a situation where they feel threatened and then expect them to perform. That’s not fair to you or your pet.

Don’t force them down from the equipment if they are afraid. If you take your dog off the equipment and he is still scared, give him time to calm down before trying again.

Don’t make them go faster than what makes sense for their skill level in agility training exercises such as weave poles and jumps, as doing so will only make them panic more—and this can result in an injury!

Puppy training is an important part of socialization and setting the foundation for a well-behaved adult dog. In our post on when to start training your puppy: tips and tricks, we provide expert advice on the best time to start training, common mistakes to avoid, and effective training techniques to get your puppy off to a great start.


Agility training is a great way to help your dog become a well-rounded, happy member of the family. 

The key is to not push them too far and make sure that you are always encouraging them instead of punishing them for mistakes. Good luck!

Further Reading

Here are more articles for dog owners who want to learn more about dog agility training:

Basic Dog Agility Training: A comprehensive guide to basic dog agility training, covering everything from equipment needed to basic commands and obstacles, written by the experts at Affordable Agility.

10 Tips to Practice Agility at Home with Your Dog: A useful article from the American Kennel Club providing tips on how to practice agility training at home with your dog.

Top Tips for Dog Agility Training: A collection of advice from dog agility experts at James Wellbeloved, covering training guidelines, diet and nutrition, injury prevention, and more.


Here are some common questions and answers related to dog agility training:

What is dog agility training?

Dog agility training is a sport where dogs navigate an obstacle course of various obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, weave poles and more.

What breeds are best suited for agility training?

Breeds that tend to have high energy and are agile like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Jack Russell Terriers, are well-suited to agility training.

How do I get started with agility training for my dog?

To get started with agility training for your dog, it’s important to have a good obedience foundation and to start slowly with basic obstacles and commands. Working with a professional trainer can also be helpful.

Do I need special equipment for agility training?

Yes, agility training requires specific equipment such as jumps, tunnels, and weave poles. You can buy or make your own agility equipment, or you can join a club or facility that provides the necessary equipment.

Can any dog participate in agility training?

While many dogs can participate in dog agility training, it’s important to talk with your veterinarian first to make sure your dog is physically and mentally healthy enough to participate. Dogs should also have basic obedience skills before starting agility training.