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Getting Ready For Your First Dog Agility Trial

May 14, 2008
Prior to entering yur dog in an agility trial or fun match, try and attend one on your own. This will enable you to see how the event is organized and what is required as an entrant. As this will be your first time, do ensure you visit the Novice ring. Is your dog up to the standard of the others? If not, then maybe it would be wise to spend some more time on training your dog on the commands required. The majority of dog trials are held in the open with no fenced areas. If your dog cannot respond to the basic "Come" command, that could cause problems. It is far better if you are confident of your dog's obedience.

Contact the host organization beforehand for a copy of the official rules and regulations. Go through them carefully to make sure you are in compliance with all of them. It would be very disappointing to enter your first trial only be disqualified due to a technicality with a rule.

You can find out about agility trials and fun matches by talking to your dog trainer. Maybe there is a local club in your town or neighborhood where you could find out more. If they have a website there will be announcements made, maybe even join an online forum and gleam more information.

If you've never been to a trial or other similar event, you need to know that they can last anywhere from eight to twelve hours. If you bring your dog to compete, the amount of time his individual competition will take is only about five minutes. It is best to bring their crate so they have a familiar comfortable spot to relax. You may also want to bring a canopy tent or other form of sun protection and a folding chair so you can sit. Don't leave home without enough water for you and your dog. Dog treats are also a good idea.

If it is possible, volunteer as a pole setter during the event. You will learn plenty of tips and tricks this way. It will also enable you to see the obstacles and courses. There is a lot to take in so make sure you don't neglect your dog. It is a social event too so do try and meet other dogs and spend some spare time playing catch or Frisbee with your own dog.

Keep a journal of all the agility runs you and your dog perform. Include your total points, any faults, and the times for the course. Make sure you keep track of whether it was a qualifying ("Q") run. If possible, see if you can get a copy of the course map to keep. This will help you evaluate problem areas and determine what you and your dog need to work on.
About the Author
Thinking of entering your dog in a dog agility trial make sure you check out Alan Wilson's website on dog agility training
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