Is your dog a natural athlete? If he or she is, you might want to consider training them for the Purina Pro Incredible Dog Challenge. If you’ve seen the televised events, you know some of the entrants have only been working on their speed and agility skills for a year before entering, so it’s not a life long commitment to training, if that’s what you’re thinking. Additionally, your dog doesn’t have to be a purebred in one of the working dog classes to have the stuff it takes to be a champion. A significant number of the dogs entered in the regional games are rescues, many of which are mutts. Size doesn’t seem to matter, either.
Agility Training for Dogs
If you want to develop your dog’s skills, you need to approach it just like you would any training program. First off, pick a goal. It’s as simple as that. Everybody’s got to start somewhere. Next, make a plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Lastly, practice. If you’re not sure about the second step, no worries. Take agility, for instance. You can buy agility equipment or make your own. Set it up in an area free of clutter and distraction. Training your dog to run through a fabric tunnel is easy to start. Kneel at one end with a treat in your hand and have a friend or family member hold your pet at the other. The tunnel should be straight initially so they can see you. Call to them and reward them when they come.
Freestyle Frisbee Catch
Most dogs like to play catch. If yours does and they like to jump or are prone to the physical feat, let them play catch with a Frisbee or disc, as some people call them. During the Incredible Dog Challenge (IDC), dogs compete in the Freestyle Flying Disc, a “toss-and-fetch event where owner and dog perform choreographed routines that require technical skill and a healthy dose of showmanship.” Recently, in Atlanta, they had a corgi competing, so don’t think your dog is too slow or too short to get involved. The discs don’t necessarily have to be thrown far. The dog just has to be able to catch them. You can get smaller discs to accommodate small dogs.
More IDC Events
There are six IDC events in all. Besides Agility and the Freestyle Flying Disc catch, there’s the 30 Weave Up & Back where dogs serpentine around tightly placed poles; the Diving Dog & Fetch It competition where dogs run towards a pool, leap off the edge and try to grab a hanging bone and retrieve it; a Surf Dog competition where their balance is on display; and the Jack Russell Hurdle Racing event where the speediest pooch on four short legs wins. All of these events take a fair amount of focus besides agility. It’s important that your dog be in good physical health if they’re going to compete. Check with your veterinarian before starting the program.
Training Tips & Helpful Guides
Training for any of these skills should ideally be conducted in a large fenced in area like a backyard free of clutter and distraction. You want a safe environment for them to practice in. If you could use a little help with motivation, training ideas and techniques or program steps, there’s an app you can download on your smartphone or tablet called the P5 Training App for Android and iOS mobile devices. As Purina likes to say, your dog is capable of incredible things. Don’t sell them short. Let them show you what they’re made of. Even if you’re not planning on having them compete, training them for any of these activities can be a great bonding experience for you both.