Joint Health for Dogs While Participating in Canine Agility
Every year the Westminster dog show comes and goes. America roots for their favorite dog breed to take best in show. At the same time, agility dogs from around the world gather to challenge each other on course to see which dog is the fastest and most accurate. But what kind of training leads up to this competition? What makes these dogs different from the pet that sleeps at the foot of your bed? And can anyone compete in canine agility?
Agility dogs range in size and breed. In fact, any dog can get involved in agility once they reach one year in age. Trainers ask that dogs don’t begin training on agility equipment until they reach one year of age in order to the reduce stress on their joints and growth plates as they grow. This prolongs the competitive life of the dog and keeps them healthy.
Prior to one year, it’s essential these dogs learn their basics from sit and stay to having spot on recall. This lays the groundwork for introducing jumps and other pieces of equipment at a year in age.
Once a dog is started on agility equipment, safety and fun is key. Dogs and handlers practice on soft surfaces in order to maintain the joint health for dogs. They also start at low jump heights for the same reason. Practice is key. An agility dog won’t start competing in trials until at least two years of age. Female dogs typically mature faster and can begin in competition sooner than males. Three is an average competition start age for male dogs. And believe it or not, a healthy agility dog can compete up until ages 8 or 9 successfully before they retire.
Most of all, this is a fun sport for dogs and handlers of all ages and levels. From building confidence in a shy dog to getting regular exercise for both dog and handler, canine agility is a team sport that provides benefits in all aspects of life.