Agility Dog Training, an Up Close Look: Part 1

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flojowarmupWe are so excited about this week’s FitDog Friday post. Today we will be sharing part one, of a two part interview we did with local agility trainers and competitors Lilyan and Roy Carew, and their dog FloJo. Agility dogs are amazing athletes and we have always wondered what it takes to develop a dog to the level of physical and mental fitness that is required for this sport. fitDogFriday_180x150

We sat down with “Lil” and Roy and learned about their approach to their canine athletes. You can watch the first part of the interview below. Some of the key points of this segment include:

The importance of a proper warm up for agility dogs

Make no mistake; this sport places a high demand on the dog’s body. Thus, warming up the body for the activity to come is very important both for performance as well as for injury prevention. Watching Flojo warm up made me think of an old Crossfit expression we used to use “our warm up is your workout”. How true! Check out how FloJo warms up in the “Warmup” video.

The importance of mental fitness as well as physical fitness for agility dogs

Yes, an agility dog needs to be fit in order to complete the course and competitions. This requires lots of exercise for sure. Yet, the mental aspect is equally important. Agility dogs need to understand their cues and must maintain a high level of concentration in order to navigate through the course speedily while ignoring potential distractions.

Specificity of training for agility dogs

We talk about this a lot in human sports and fitness. Specificity of training simply means that the training protocols used for any sport should be specific and consistent with the types of movements, intensities, and durations of the sport. For example, a marathon runner will train much differently from the 200 meter runner.
Lil and Roy abide by this concept. The majority of their dog’s fitness comes from work on the course. Short, intense sprints and obstacle training are used to build the fitness base and endurance training (e.g. long runs/walks) is not used at all. That said, if you are thinking about starting your dog in agility, I still would recommend using off course runs as a means to build a fitness base.

Warming up for agility

Check out FloJo doing some warm up drills. She starts with ball fetch and then moves to a functional warm up by jumping over the hurdle. I love hearing Lilyan’s comment about using the hips when jumping. This is exactly what we are supposed to think about when we, as humans are jumping. (Yes, we like to jump – up bleachers, down the field, on top of chairs and benches.)

We will be posting the second half of the interview as well as a look at FloJo on the course next week.

fitDogFriday_avatarPlease enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!

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  1. That was a great interview. It looks fun but I don’t know if I would ever remember the course. Great tips!
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Follow-Up/Fitdog FridayMy Profile

  2. Agility always looks so much fun. Never realised how much goes into it prior!!
    Paws &Pedals recently posted…“All I want for Xmas is……” – Part 3 (includes EzyDog Giveaway)My Profile

    • Yup. Just like the athletes we see on TV. The games/events are the end result of the preparation, and most people don’t realize the time and effort required to prepare.
      steve recently posted…Agility Dog Training, an Up Close Look: Part 1My Profile

  3. Katie tried agility as a puppy but after the second class, they told Mom not to come back. Katie was totally disruptive and only wanted to play. Mom thought about Bailie doing agility, but she decided tracking will be better suited to her. We do enjoy playing around with the equipment just for fun though when we find some.
    emma recently posted…Tropical Beauty | GBGV | {This Moment} See BeautifulMy Profile

  4. Hi Y’all!

    Great interview. I take agility classes from time to time. It always follow the advanced obedience, which gets us warmed up. We have to travel so far (over an hour) to get to a class…that’s why I said from time to time…we only take a course in the spring or fall before the weather gets hot or the roads get bad. When we’re in the low country there are no trainers within a convenient driving distance or we’d take winter classes. There are draw backs to livin’ rural.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…See Beautiful, Have Fun, Stay Fit, Follow UpMy Profile

  5. What a great post! I dream of having time to do this, especially with Rudy. I think he’d love it.
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Celebrate National Day of the Horse with Jewelry Gifts from For Love of a DogMy Profile

  6. Something Ive always wanted to do is get my dogs into agility! So I love this post! Thanks Slim!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Friday’s ‘Woofs’ and ‘Growls’My Profile

    • At least now you know what you will be getting into if you give agility a try. Come back next week to see FloJo run through the course. She is pretty awesome.
      steve recently posted…RESOLVE TO MOVE YOUR MUTT! ~ Blog HopMy Profile

  7. I am an agility addict and have been training/competing for 9 years. It definitely takes a lot of training to be successful at the higher levels. This goes for the handler as much as the dog. I do feel however that endurance work is a very important piece of the training/fitness puzzle. Agility trials are very often long drawn out days with a lot of time between your runs. Not all dogs just sleep to pass the time. It’s a stimulating environment that often keeps the dog awake and excited. They need to be conditioned to function/focus over long periods of time. Endurance work can help with this. Having the wherewithal to walk/hike several miles will definitely help the dogs get through a long day of agility. For warm-ups, my chiro vet says one of the best things you can do is a slow 10-15 minute walk (not trotting). This engages the leg muscles more fully than trotting or running surprisingly. While agility training to everyone’s taste, for the dog/handler teams who enjoy it, there is not much better than a fast turn around a challenging course.
    Taryn recently posted…A Video of a Video? Really?My Profile

    • Thanks for those comments. It does make sense that there is an endurance component during competitions due to the long days and multiple runs through the course.

      Agree, too, that walking is a great warmup.
      steve recently posted…RESOLVE TO MOVE YOUR MUTT! ~ Blog HopMy Profile

  8. I’ve always thought agility looked like it would be so much fun. I’m thinking we might like to try it with the new pup, but I do realize it’s a lot of work so may not be for us (having the time-wise). It’s great to think about, and of course at this point I don’t even know if there are any classes in our area. Great interview and I’m looking forward to the next one too!
    Jan K recently posted…FitDog Friday – Changing SeasonsMy Profile

  9. Looks like a lot of fun. Short and informative. Hope one day I’ll start Lady on some agility classes if I can find a place close to us. I find that she runs pretty fast and jumps pretty high. Maybe I’ll get the tunnel and bring it to doggie park to start her off slow.

    • Good luck. We have another post this Friday of FloJo’s run through the course.
      mkob recently posted…More Christmas MemoriesMy Profile

  10. Mom loves to watch agility she enjoys how easy the dogs make it look. Our brother( who passed away) Tyler use to love to do agility. He had great fun making thru and over every obsticle. Unfortunately Mom had a few laps in memory and would occasionally forget a jump. She found out quickly that you had to focus and do the entire course. So have fun and congrats, we’re sure you do a great job 🙂
    Sherrie Marshall recently posted…Hectic MonthMy Profile

  11. This is fantastic. Thank you. I’ve started warming Sydney up before long walks and play sessions outside. Her zoomies have lead to a few injuries and just stretching her out or walking around the yard for 15 minutes before heading out for a walk help her a lot. We used to have a limping dog when we came inside, now we don’t. With Rodrigo, we toss the frisbee a few times to get him warmed up.

    It’s funny that I would stretch out and warm up before and after working out, I’m surprised that I didn’t think our dogs could benefit from the same.
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  12. I enjoyed the interview and warm up video. Agility is so much fun to watch.
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  13. Agree agree! very nice, thanks for sharing 🙂 Just for an additional info. Training would be easy to handle if you already established your role as a leader. Based on experience as a trainer, everything goes absolutely smooooooth afterwards. 😀

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