Agility classes give dogs an outlet to focus their energy on and go a long ways toward encouraging good behaviour developing a rewarding relationship between dog and owner.

Not your average mutts

Anyone who has ever watched a dog agility event has probably come away impressed with the degree of control that owners have over their animals. Even more so if the viewer lives with a pet whose repertoire of tricks includes chasing cars and begging at the dinner table.

Owners of dogs that exhibit these kind of regrettable antics have two options: give up all hope and allow Rover to carry on in his ways, or work with the dog to find a positive way to channel all that energy. For those who choose to fix the problem, joining the Lake Country Jumping Agility Mutts might be a good option.

The club’s pre-agility classes start next month with sessions taking place at Swalwell park. The four class introduction is the best place for beginning dogs and their owners to get started in agility. Handlers are taught to use positive reinforcement with their pets to train basic commands.

Instructor David Yates says that despite the prevalence of certain breeds in the competitive arena, any dog can learn and benefit from agility.

“Size isn’t an issue, we have small and big dogs in our club. Our obstacles are height adjustable so we can suit each dog’s characteristics,” says Yates.

Yates says it’s important to know that dogs need mental stimulation in their excerise regimen just as much as they need physical activity. Dog agility is one of the best ways to provide the mental aspect.

“The mental part is maybe even more important than the physical,” says Yates. “Without it a dog becomes bored and that’s when you start to get some of the unwanted behaviours.”

The social atmosphere at a Jumping Agility Mutts class is best described with words like informal, relaxed, casual but most importantly fun. The club’s main goals are to provide an opportunity for dogs to socialize with one another and to facilitate strong relationship building between the dogs and their handlers.

David says that for his own dogs, agility class is one of those excited situations where the dogs know where they’re going from the moment they leave the house. He says tails are wagging and it’s obvious that the dogs are looking forward to the session, well before the car pulls into the parking lot at Swalwell park.

While the emphasis of the club is on fun, some members do compete in events and that brings a whole new kind of enjoyment to the training. People and canines alike have an opportunity to make new friends in different communities.

Yates has been coaching dog agility for 10 years now. In that time he’s participated in countless workshops with some of the top international instructors. He and his two border collies have a great deal of competition experience. The older of the two, Louie, is even a former champion at the national level.

To register for pre-agility classes contact Nancy (250-766-3605) or Dave (250-766-2352).

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