What You Need To Know Before Starting Dog Agility Training

Agility is a sport for dogs and their owners. It’s a great way to bond with your dog and keep him healthy. It’s also a lot of fun! In agility, your dog has to run through an obstacle course that you set up in your backyard or local park. 

The obstacles will include tunnels, jumps and hoops, among other things. Agility training takes time, patience and money but it can be worth it if you’re up for the challenge!

Beginning dog agility training: Week 1 – YouTube
1. Agility training is a fun and exciting sport that can help your dog stay fit and active.
2. To get started in agility training, you’ll need some basic equipment, such as jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, as well as guidance from a professional trainer.
3. Common agility training mistakes to avoid include pushing your dog too hard too soon and failing to reward good behavior.
4. Ensuring your dog’s safety during agility training involves proper training techniques, adequate hydration, and using high-quality equipment and safety gear.
5. To take your dog’s agility training to the next level, consider advanced techniques like using targets to improve accuracy and incorporating conditioning exercises into your routine.

Build A Bond With Your Dog First

Before starting agility training, you need to build a bond with your dog. It’s important that they are comfortable around you and learn to trust you. 

You should also make sure that the time is right for both of you. If they aren’t ready yet, then their needs will not be met in the long run since agility training is physically demanding on both handler and dog.

To build this bond with your dog:

  • Take them on walks regularly around town or in new places
  • Play fetch or go for hikes in areas where there aren’t many people or dogs around
  • Work on tricks like rolling over, spinning 180 degrees on command (this one’s hard!), sitting pretty etc

If you’re looking to get started in dog agility training, our comprehensive guide on how to get started in dog agility training has everything you need to know, from equipment and training tips to safety rules and competition guidelines.

Your Dog Needs To Be At Least One Year Old

You should wait until your dog is at least one year old before starting agility training.

Your dog needs to be mature enough to learn and develop their body, so it’s best to wait until they’re at least one year old before beginning agility training. 

Most dogs will not be able to physically handle the rigors of agility until this age because they are still learning how their bodies work. They are also still growing and developing after birth, so working with them too early could cause joint or muscle problems later in life.

Your Dog Needs To Be Healthy Enough For Agility Training

You need to be sure that your dog is fit enough for agility training. The biggest concern with agility training is that your dog may injure themselves during the course of the lessons, or during practice sessions at home. 

This can happen for a number of reasons: they might over exert themselves whilst running around or jumping over obstacles, or they might get injured from any number of things (including other pets in your household).

The only way to ensure that your dog’s health will not be put at risk by this kind of activity is by ensuring that he/she is fit enough for it before you start. 

So when you’re choosing which breed you want to train in agility, make sure that its personality and physical characteristics are compatible with what’s required of them by the sport – i.e., if they’re naturally shy then perhaps go for something like a Border Collie rather than an energetic Jack Russell Terrier!

When it come to agility competitions, training is key. To give your dog the best chance at success, check out our guide on the most effective ways to train your dog for agility competitions, including tips on building endurance, timing, and obstacle navigation.

Teach Basic Obedience Commands

Before you can begin agility training, your dog must be able to obey basic commands. The most important commands include “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “heel”. 

Teaching your dog these basic commands will help him or her learn how to walk on a leash properly and behave in public settings like parks or pet stores. You don’t want a big embarrassing scene when you’re trying to impress strangers with your skills!

SitTo control movement and motionUse a verbal cue and a hand gesture to guide your dog into the sitting position
StayTo maintain the current positionUse a verbal cue, hand gesture, and reward your dog with treats until he stays in position
ComeTo return to handlerUse a verbal cue, encourage your dog to come to you with rewards
HeelWalk alongside handlerUse a verbal cue and hand gesture to guide your dog to the correct position beside you
DownLie down on the groundUse a verbal cue and hand gesture to guide your dog into the down position

Note: Basic obedience training is a crucial foundation for successful agility training. It’s important to ensure that your dog is comfortable and proficient in basic commands before progressing onto agility training. Training techniques can be found from brands such as AKC, Nonstop Dogwear, and Susan Garrett’s Agility Training for Dogs on Masterclass.

Take It Slowly

Before you begin, remember to keep in mind that this is a long-term project. You need to be patient and take your time with it. 

It’s better to start out slow and get the basics down than try to rush through everything at once and risk injuring your dog or even yourself in the process. The first thing on your training checklist should be safety for both you and Fido!

Start Your Dog On Agility Equipment As Soon As Possible

There are several benefits to starting agility training as soon as possible. First, the sooner your dog is comfortable on the equipment, the more proficient they’ll be when they’re used to it. 

Second, having a well-trained dog makes your job easier the use of jump cups or weave poles is much faster if you don’t have to go through the process of teaching them how to walk over them or through a tunnel. 

Third, being able to put together and take apart obstacles allows for more freedom in where you train indoors (or outdoors!) since space is not an issue.

Start with small pieces of equipment like cups and tunnels and work up from there!

Making mistakes is a crucial part of the learning process, but some mistakes can be avoided. To ensure you’re on the right track when training your dog for agility, be sure to check out our article on 15 common mistakes to avoid in dog agility training, and learn how to prevent common missteps in your training routine.

Praise Is Still Important

Praise is still important.

You should continue to use positive reinforcement (rewarding your dog with treats, toys and praise) in agility training. There are several reasons for this:

  • It’s fun and rewarding for your dog!
  • It reinforces good behavior, and makes it more likely that they’ll repeat it.
  • The reward can be delivered immediately after the behavior occurs, which helps learning occur faster than if there were a delay between the behavior and its reward.

Don’t Let Your Dog Get Hurt

If you’ve never trained your dog to run through an agility course, it’s important to keep them safe. You’ll want to make sure that they don’t get hurt by any other dogs or people during training.

Formal Agility Classes Are Helpful

The classes are invaluable, as they will teach you the proper technique of each obstacle. You’ll also get pointers on how to help your dog enjoy agility training, which is critical if you want him to remain motivated and engaged during practice sessions at home. 

Additionally, the people at these events often become friends with other local trainers and dog owners, making it easier for everyone involved to share tips and offer encouragement when needed.

Be Aware Of The Time And Cost Commitment Involved In Agility Training

Agility training is a lot of work and a long-term commitment. You will need to spend several hours each week with your dog, and it will probably take several years before your dog is ready to compete at the highest level in AKC agility competitions. 

Agility equipment can be expensive and hard to find, so you may have to order some of it online or order parts separately and put together your own obstacle course.

You may also need to travel outside of your region for training or competitions if there aren’t any nearby schools that offer classes in agility training. 

While this isn’t necessarily difficult, it can be time consuming, especially if you are traveling by car with your pet!

Want to take your dog’s agility training to the next level? Our article on maximizing your dog’s potential with these agility training techniques offers advanced tips to increase speed, agility, and coordination on the course.

Never Force Your Dog To Do Something That He Is Not Comfortable With Doing

If you try to push your dog into doing something that he is not ready for, you will likely cause him undue stress and anxiety. If he feels forced or pressured, then he may become fearful or even aggressive towards the situation, which defeats the purpose of training in the first place!

It’s important to remember that dogs don’t have a concept of right and wrong like humans do; they just want what makes them feel good at any given moment. 

For example: if you try to teach your dog a trick but it doesn’t work out exactly how you want it yet (which happens quite often), don’t get frustrated! 

Instead focus on building up positive associations with all aspects of agility training so that when it comes time for success there will be no hesitation whatsoever

Jumping over hurdles✔️
Weaving through poles✔️
Running through tunnels✔️
Walking the balance beam✔️
Fetching balls or frisbees✔️

Note: Every dog is different and may have unique preferences and boundaries. It’s important to respect your dog’s comfort level and never force them to do something they are not comfortable with during agility training. Instead, use positive reinforcement and rewards to encourage desired behaviors. You can find additional tips and training techniques from brands such as AKC, Nonstop Dogwear, and Susan Garrett’s Agility Training for Dogs on Masterclass.

Before You Buy Any Equipment, Do Some Research First

Before you buy any equipment, do some research first. You should know what you’re looking for and what your dog’s limitations are. 

Make sure the equipment is safe by checking reviews from other owners who have used it and read the manufacturer specifications. If the device is adjustable, make sure it fits your dog properly so they don’t get injured while using it.

Finally, learn about your options and make an informed decision based on what will work best for your training needs rather than just going with the first thing that comes along.

To ensure your dog’s safety and success in agility training, you need to know what is and isn’t appropriate during training. Our guide on the do’s and don’ts of dog agility training covers everything from warming up and cool down exercises to common behavior issues and training mistakes to avoid.

Do You Really Want To Compete Professionally? If So, Prepare To Work Hard

What you need to know before starting dog agility training is that if you’re serious about getting into the sport, it will take time and effort. 

You should be willing to practice regularly, work with your dog on some basic skills (like jumping over a low hurdle), and invest money in equipment like a tunnel and weave poles. If all this sounds good to you, then competitive dog agility might be for you!

If not… well, don’t beat yourself up too much. There are plenty of other fun ways to exercise your pup that won’t require as much time or money and if he’s just not interested in competing professionally? Don’t worry about it! Dog agility is great entertainment for both humans and dogs alike and there’s always next year!

Make Sure Your And Your Dog Are Ready For Agility Training

Before you begin agility training, it’s important to make sure you and your dog are both ready. It will also help to be aware of the right way to start training your dog so that they can practice with ease.

There are several things to consider before beginning agility training:

Make sure your dog is healthy enough for this type of exercise. Your pet should be at least one year old and have no medical conditions that would prevent them from participating in these activities. 

If they have any previous injuries, consult a veterinarian before beginning any type of physical activity with them. 

Agility courses require jumping over obstacles, running at full speed through tunnels and weaving around cones so if your pet isn’t physically fit enough for this kind of workout, it could result in injury!

Make sure your basic obedience commands are down pat first (such as sit, stay, come). When working with an untrained pup or an older animal who hasn’t had much experience in the past few years and especially when dealing with two dogs simultaneously it can be difficult for either party involved when attempting something new together because there are so many variables involved (including whether or not one animal understands what another wants). 

Having both dogs follow some basic cues will make life easier on everyone involved!

Dog is physically fit and healthy✔️
Dog enjoys physical activity and play✔️
You have access to appropriate training equipment✔️
You have access to a professional trainer or training resources✔️
Your dog is microchipped or has proper identification✔️

Note: It’s important to ensure your dog is physically fit and healthy before starting any new exercise routine. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian to assess if your dog is a suitable candidate for agility training. You can find appropriate training equipment and resources from brands such as AKC, Nonstop Dogwear, and Susan Garrett’s Agility Training for Dogs on Masterclass.


The best thing you can do is take it slow. Make sure your dog is not getting hurt, and that he is having fun. 

It’s also important to make sure that your bond with him is strong enough for the training process so that he doesn’t get afraid of going on equipment or doing tricks. 

If you have any questions about starting agility training with your dog, we encourage you to look into our resources section below!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you with dog agility training:

Agility Training for Dogs on Masterclass – Learn from expert dog trainer Susan Garrett as she shares tips and techniques for agility training in this comprehensive online course.

Agility Training Tips and Competition Information on AKC – This article covers everything from basic training tips to competition dos and don’ts, making it a great resource for all levels of agility enthusiasts.

Agility Foundation Skills on Nonstop Dogwear – Get started with the basics of agility training with this guide from Nonstop Dogwear, which covers 5 essential foundation skills for a successful training routine.


What is dog agility training?

Dog agility training is a sport that involves a handler directing their dog through an obstacle course within a set time limit, with the goal of achieving accuracy and speed.

What kind of dogs can participate in agility training?

Most dogs can participate in agility training, however, it’s important to ensure that your dog has a clean bill of health and is physically fit for the sport.

How can I get started in agility training?

To get started in agility training, you’ll need to invest in some basic equipment, such as jumps, tunnels, and weave poles. You can also enroll in a local class or hire a professional trainer to help guide you through the process.

What are some common agility training mistakes to avoid?

Some common agility training mistakes include failing to adequately warm up before training, pushing your dog too hard too soon, and failing to reward your dog for good behavior and effort.

How can I ensure my dog’s safety during agility training?

To ensure your dog’s safety during agility training, it’s important to use proper training techniques, provide plenty of hydration breaks, and slowly increase the intensity of the training over time. It’s also important to use high-quality equipment and ensure that your dog is properly fitted with any necessary safety gear, such as a harness or goggles.