Any dog can master agility training
Agility champ , Puma, and his handler, Melanie Rock, are getting ready to compete on the world stage this spring, in Italy and the Netherlands.
"It gets more complex as you bring in more pieces of the course," Melanie says, "And how you wanna explain to your dog which way or obstacles you want them to take."
Solid communication is a make or break in agility training, competition, especially since neither dog nor human knows what the course will actually look like until just before they compete.
"When you run your dog, it's the first time," Melanie says, "The judging goes on time and whether or not they do the obstacles correctly."
Communication is the number one skill Melanie focuses on with the agility teams she coaches at "All Dogs Can", in Lapeer, "When I teach I feel like I don't just train dogs. I teach people how to communicate wtih their dogs."
Dogs pay close attention to body language so, Melanie says, verbal communication is only a small part of it, "Non-verbals is probably a priority of what the dog learns to go on."
Handlers are not allowed to touch the dog or the obstacles during competition, either.
It may all sound very complicated but, Melanie says, humans of every age seem to enjoy agility training, and virtually any dog can do it, "If your dog likes something, whether it be toys or treats, they would enjoy agility."
Take Melanie's student, Michelle Koehler, for example.
Michelle was desperately trying to cope with her dog's behavioral issues when she first took up agility two decades ago, "When I started off in agility, I had no intentions of ever competing. I was just doing it for something for fun to do with my dog to keep her from being naughty."
Since the sense of purpose seemed cure the naughtiness, agility is something Michelle has continued will all of her dogs.
Michelle says building a rapport with different dogs is a lot like learning to relate to different types of people, "Because every person has a different personality. "
"It really increases the bond between pet/human. They absoluetly love it," Melanie says, "And it's so fun to do with your pet."