FAST-PACED, HARD CORE AGILITY FOR PEOPLE – WITHOUT THE TREATS!
I could not agree more. One reason most people fail at resolution #2 is because the reward is not tangible. Don’t get me wrong, I love how I feel after a good workout – a form of exercise where I feel I’ve pushed myself to my limits, not towards a ‘near death’ experience. It’s good to feel the reminder of my efforts over the next couple of days, but not to the point where I have to crawl because my legs and back are waving a white flag!
Henry’s agility trainer says
Your dog has to consider you more exciting than dirt!
You may think this odd and yet; it makes perfect sense. Dogs are easily distracted by scent. If someone in the agility class prior to us had dropped a treat, and even if that treat had been picked up, the scent would still be there. Dogs in the following class may find the search and rescue (hope of consuming said treat) far more interesting than you trying to give them a command to do something. Produce a high-value treat however (incentive), and I can get Henry to do anything I ask. By simply showing, and letting him sniff that tiny piece of burger, Henry will ‘jump’, ‘dig’, ‘back’, ‘over’, ‘tunnel’ and ‘target (for a count of 5)’ all for that tiny little reward.
I am, like most people, motivated to do something if I can see even a tiny glimmer of hope soon after putting in the effort. Yes, I realize chocolate and wine are counterproductive incentives. For anyone who has tried circuit training, crossfit, and bootcamp, you know how much effort is required and yes, the results are amazing. In the long run.
If you’re also looking for less ‘hard-core’ methods that you can enjoy from the start, why not try agility training? A form of exercise you can enjoy with your dogs, all year ’round. We work outdoors for as long as we can and when our Ontario winters kick in we move inside to a dome Physical activity for both of you. I know I’m more likely to stick with something that I find enjoyable.
Henry and I have been attending agility classes for more than a year, and we both love it!
Henry squeals with excitement when we turn into the parking lot. Veronica Evers-Doyle, ABCDT from Zephyr Canines Inc., is Henry’s trainer. Veronica has this to say:
“A tired dog is a good dog” may be generalizing, but it often proves to be true. When you share your life with high-energy dogs as I do, you will quickly learn that they are easier to live with when they have a good exercise regime. Every dog has different requirements but most dogs need at least 2 good exercise sessions per day. Some dogs will be content with a 20 minute walk twice a day, while others will require at least 2 hours of vigorous daily exercise. Exercise can be a variety of things. A brisk walk, playing fetch, frisbee, hiking, or a dog sport.
Exercise should also include some daily mental stimulation. Many people work their dog physically, but fail to work their brain. A dog who is tired mentally and physically should be able to truly relax at home. For mental exercise you can do some refresher work on their obedience, trick training, or treat puzzles.
Dog sports can be a great way of exercising your dog physically and have the benefit of involving you in the process. Many dog sports also require some physical commitment from you as their handler, but don’t let that worry you. Most dog sports don’t require you to be a triathlete, just that you be able to direct them as needed.
Activities that are a great physical outlet for your dog while not requiring you to be as active yourself include lure coursing, field (ideal for “sporting” dogs including retrievers, spaniels and setters ) and dock diving. If your dog needs something that is more mentally challenging consider obedience or scent detection.
If you are looking for an activity that will really challenge both you and your dog you might want to consider agility. Agility is a great way to find a balance between working your dog physically and mentally, but it also helps you connect with your dog as you direct them around the designated course. You’ll need to commit to a regular schedule of classes (usually once per week) but the time and effort is well worth it.
A typical agility run will involve directing your dog around a course of obstacles including jumps, tunnels, teeter totter, as well as “contact” obstacles that they must climb. Some agility teams go on to compete in agility trials, but that is certainly not a requirement. Many people do agility just for the love of the game and for the connection they can build between themselves and their dog.
Unfortunately, we’ve been benched lately due to Henry’s ‘condition.’ We’re looking forward to starting back next week!
ABCDT – Animal Behaviour College Certified Dog Trainer (Private College)