Big-dog-little-handler: Why we “do Agility”

Duke is never going to be zooming around a course on crufts…. he won’t even win a local agility competition (if I was ever bothered enough to enter him). So why do we bother?

Firstly it’s fun; I love that it’s not competitive. I love that we are under 0 pressure to get it right. There is no reputation ridding on a perfect round (what’s one of those?). No time trials or stress involved in us jumping jumps or racing through tunnels. There is nothing depending on either of us getting it right. So it’s fun. Duke loves it, I love running round with him. I soar with joy when he gets it right and I giggle when we get it wrong. Because who doesn’t find a 6 stone dog trying to run through The MIDDLE of a tunnel and deciding to jump over it instead funny? We have a great time and a good giggle.

We both get a mini work out as well; physically it works us both, Duke sleeps all day after and i manage to rack up quite a few steps. We also work our brains. Duke has to follow commands and I have to give them. And quickly! I still get confused (What’s the difference between a tunnel and a tire anyway).

We communicate; Duke has to listen to me, he has to pay attention to me when he’s excited. It can be difficult for Duke to follow commands when excited but since we have been doing agility I have noticed a marked change in his ability to follow commands at the height of his excitement. He’s listening and waiting for what’s next. Because of him listening we are really close to conquering Duke’s worst habit: nibbling and jumping up when over excited. We are almost there! We are so close I can feel it. Duke’s also learning that doing what I tell him to do is fun and rewarding.

We make friends; With the best kind of people: Dog people. We get to meet individuals we may have never met had we not been to agility class. We also get to meet their dogs !

We work on our bond; we get to strengthen and develop the bond between each other. Duke has to focus on me and only me. We are a team! Each week I can see his focus sharpen and grow. He’s less interested in distractions and more focused on what I’m saying and doing. I’ve really noticed a change in his behaviour since we have been going. He’s better behaved and although we still have a few behaviours we would like to focus on we are well on the way!

Most importantly Duke just loves jumps and tunnels! Oh and there is always a brew and a natter at the end!

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