The Shiba Inu is an athletic dog breed. They are energetic, smart, playful, and enjoy physical activities. Their size, strength, and stamina make them a good candidate for agility training.
However, Shiba Inu is infamous for being stubborn, independent, and easily bored. They like doing things their way, so agility training can be challenging.
But this shouldn’t stop you from trying anyway! Dog sports have many benefits, including keeping your dog occupied so they wouldn’t look for trouble — one thing Shiba Inu is well-known for.
Dog sports will keep your dog physically fit and mentally stimulated and is also a good opportunity for the dog and owner to bond.
What is dog agility?
Dog agility is a timed obstacle course the dog must complete in a pattern. It comprises jumps, ramps, tunnels, weave poles, and walkways. It is a competitive activity that challenges a dog’s mind and body.
Agility is a sport for dogs and is popular among owners of high-energy breeds. The dog and handler work as a team, guiding the dog through obstacles in the correct order.
But, some prefer to use agility as a fun exercise for their dogs at home. It is a great way to bond, an enjoyable way to train and burn off your dog’s energy.
Benefits of Dog Agility
Dog agility reaps many benefits for your dog. Many owners would like their dogs to participate in such activities, competitively or at home.
Exercise. Agility is particularly for high-energy dogs with much energy to spare. Dog agility has running, jumping, climbing, and other exercises that are good for your dog’s health. It will surely tire your dog out at the end of these obstacles.
Rid of boredom. When your dog is bored, it tends to look for trouble. This is where destructive behaviors manifest. But with agility, not only does it keep your dog moving, but it also stimulates their mind and keeps them occupied. After the day, they’ll be so tired trouble is the last thing in their heads.
Builds good behavior. One of the best outcomes of agility is your dog’s ability to listen to your commands. To finish the obstacle course, your dog relies on your commands as you correctly guide them through the hurdles. This training increases how much they pay attention and obey you.
Strengthens owner/handler-dog bond. As you work and train as a team, you’ll also be spending time and bonding with your dog.
Is my dog suited for agility?
All healthy adult dogs are suitable for agility. That said, recently injured dogs or seniors with health issues will have to sit out from this extensive activity.
Puppies can gradually start and complete a whole course when they are 12-18 months old.
And for dogs like Dachshunds and Basset Hounds prone to arthritis or back injuries, you should remove certain obstacles like jumping.
Agility works great for dogs with common behavioral issues like:
Nervous or anxious dogs. Nervous dogs are scared of uncertainty. Not knowing what’s coming next can trigger their anxiousness. But with agility, the course’s pattern is predetermined so the training and event can be treated as a routine. Nervous dogs can quickly warm up to the sport because of its repetitive activities, which helps with their nervous behavior.
High-energy dogs. High-energy working dog breeds have lots of energy they need to burn. And some owners need help keeping up with this stamina or providing them with an outlet to spend their energy. This is why dog sports are often dominated by working dog breeds because this is where they excel. They find the physical and mental challenge fun and help burn their energy.
If your dog displays confidence, it might pick up on agility easier than some. But it doesn’t mean your timid or troublemaking dog couldn’t do it. With training and honing their obedience and focus, almost all dogs can excel in agility.
Is agility for me?
Agility is not a one-man team. Just because it is for dogs doesn’t mean the handler or the owner is not involved. That’s why before signing up your dog for these extensive activities, you also have to consider yourself.
Are you suited for agility?
Dog agility not only exercises the dogs but their humans as well. You and your dog must be on the same page regarding this. You will also need a solid fitness mindset as you will accompany and teach your dog a training and exercise routine.
Like your dog, you also need strength, balance, and stamina to support your dog throughout the agility course.
Tips to get started with dog agility
Before riding the waves to the actual sport, there are a few things you need to train your dog on. These basic but fundamental skills’ll make dog agility a bit easier.
Brush up on basic obedience
In the agility course, your dog must closely follow your instructions and understand your cues. So build his obedience skills, including sit, stay, and come and use positive reinforcement.
Improve attention span
The agility course needs intense focus, and you need to train your dog to keep his attention on you and not be distracted by anything in the surroundings, like other dogs and noises.
Get them used to different movements
The sport is filled with different and strange movements that your dog might need to become more familiar with, like crawling or climbing. So before introducing him to the entire course, get them used to different movements like walking backward, stepping on top of things, climbing over, and crawling.
Increasing a dog’s flexibility is one way to start with agility training. You can lead them to twirl to their right or left to stretch their side or use their nose to lead them around in a circle.
Overcome fear of the dark
One obstacle that can be seen in an agility course is a tunnel your dog has to run through. If your dog is intimidated by the dark opening, some training needs to be done.
First, your dog must get comfortable in a narrow, covered space. You can purchase an agility tunnel at home to train your dog or build a mock tunnel with blankets, chairs, or a big cardboard box.
Keep the length of your tunnel short so your dog can see the other side, and most importantly, don’t force him. Instead, lure and encourage them with positive reinforcement and peaking your head from the other side.