In many cases, people with difficult dogs spend most of their time trying to get their dogs not to do something don’t jump, don’t bark, don’t pull, don’t lunge. Agility gives those dogs something easy and enjoyable to do, and do with enthusiasm!
Agility is a game that you play with your dog. Play is emotionally incompatible with the emotions linked to aggression. If your dog is playful she is less likely to bark or lunge at a person or other dog.
Just as “rope courses” build confidence in people, agility course training builds confidence in dogs. As dogs learn to leap over hurdles, run through tunnels, and balance over planks, their confidence increases. Since most aggression is based on fear, this increase in confidence is helpful. A more confident dog is usually a less fearful dog.
Every part of agility requires a certain amount of self-control – some parts require a lot – which is always a benefit for an aggressive dog. Once a dog has learned that agility is a fun game, she will be eager to start performing the obstacles. Before she is allowed to play, however, she has to wait at the start line until her handler releases her. This is just the kind of self-control game that is beneficial to a dog with aggression issues.
Dogs also have to exhibit extraordinary self-control at an obstacle called the table. At this obstacle, the dog is asked to leap onto the table top and sit or down, holding that position for five seconds. Most dogs consider it more fun to be moving. Learning to hold still earns her the reward (positive reinforcement) of getting to continue with more running and jumping.
Agility can even help canines who don’t enjoy the company of other dogs learn to ignore them. They may even learn that dogs near agility equipment signal impending fun a little classical conditioning.
Before you get started, download Beginner’s Guide for Agility Training today.