Have you and your Shiba finally arrived at an obedience understanding?
If yes, your journey together was likely one of patience and persistence.
Why stop now?
Your Shiba Inu has come to expect a level of leadership from you.
How can you continue challenging your four-legged best friend after obedience training?
Consider Shiba Inu agility training.
Embarking on agility training can provide both you and your Shiba a new skillset that improves communication as well as physical mobility and stamina.
Keep reading to find out more.
What Exactly is Agility Training?
Dog agility is a competitive dog sport that requires nimbleness, strength, speed, balance, and endurance.
During agility competitions, dogs complete a course of 14-22 obstacles and judges score them based on speed and accuracy.
Dogs in agility competitions are not allowed to be touched by their handlers. They complete all tasks without a leash and must rely on verbal communication from their owners.
Dogs who engage in regular agility training get more physical exercise and mental stimulation that greatly benefits their overall health and well-being.
Shiba Inus are great candidates for agility training due to their size and speed / strength potential.
However, getting them to actually enjoy agility training is likely another story.
This may take some work depending on their personality and motivations.
Agility Training Benefits For You and Your Shibas
Shiba Inus are curious, tenacious, and intelligent. They value praise (especially in the form of tasty treats) and independence over almost anything else.
If a Shiba's mind and body are not given the proper workouts they need, this breed tends to look for trouble. Offering regular agility training will keep your Shiba Inu from finding mischief out of boredom.
Being a basal breed of dog, Shiba Inus are not naturally submissive and can be a challenge to train.
Agility sessions are a great way to grow beyond your basic training relationship with your Shiba.
Shiba Inu agility training makes your training work seem like play. Your Shiba may or may not be interested at first - but give it time and eventually your Shiba may get hooked by the agility bug.
Shibas are smart. They are often too smart for their owners' liking!
Agility training will put this intelligence to good use resulting in long-lasting benefits for both you and your Shiba Inu.
Getting Started With Agility Training
Before you attempt agility training, it'll be best if your Shiba already knows the basic obedience commands like sit, stay, heel, and down.
It's also important to consult your veterinarian before you start agility training.
Also, make sure you take some time to watch some agility training videos to see what it looks like in action.
Shiba Inus are sensitive and intuitive. Taking your Shiba out and 'winging it' won't end well for either party.
You need to know exactly what you're asking and how you're going to ask it. Basically, you need to learn how to be an agility trainer before attempting to do it half-baked.
Additionally, there's a few Facebook groups on dog agility - and a few that covers Shiba Inu agility.
The Basics - Dog Agility Training Equipment
To get your Shiba started in agility training, start with a few basic agility tools at first.
You can find all the agility tools you need online or make them yourself.
In many instances, you may already have things lying around in your yard or garage that can be used as agility equipment.
Most agility tools are fairly easy to construct with a little DIY knowledge.
In fact, you can can create almost a whole agility obstacle course by just using P.V.C. pipe which is probably the easiest material to use for DIY agility projects.
In addition to P.V.C. here are some other everyday items that can be used for agility equipment.
Weave Poles -
Plastic soccer cones, bamboo posts, or milk jugs filled with sand or water will work great.
Set poles no closer than 24" apart. Lead your pooch by example through the poles using treats as a reward.
Please note that dogs with ACL or joint issues need veterinary approval before weave pole exercises.
Agility Tunnel -
This course is a bit harder to replicate with DIY methods.
Try draping blankets or sheets over small tables to achieve a tunnel look.
A better method would be construct a long P.V.C. frame and use a covering of your choice. Try to construct in a way that makes it a multi-use agility tool.
Coax them through the tunnel using treats and praise as rewards.
Be patient with this one.
If your Shiba doesn't understand why you're asking something, they won't see the value in doing it.
Pause Table -
Pause tables can be easily constructed using wood pallets and PVC pipe.
As always, follow instructions and test it out before your allowing your best fur friend to use it.
This is a great place to deliver initial encouragement. If you've mastered the basics of obedience school, a "stay" command shouldn't take much training.
Jumping Rods -
A broom or shovel handle wrapped in a pool noodle will do just fine here.
You slide it between the bottom legs of one chair on either side and use duct tape to secure it. Check out the AKC agility site for official height regulations.
Set the bar very low to the ground. Coax your Shiba over, rewarding with a treat. If that goes well, slowly raise the bar in increments.
Don't rush it however. Make sure your Shiba understands the concept before literally and figuratively 'raising the bar too high'.
Agility Training Tips
Stay Brief -
Agility training sessions shouldn't exceed 15 minutes. In the beginning, they should be even shorter.
You want your Shiba to leave on a high note, looking forward to their next session.
If you work to the point of fatigue and or boredom every time, both you and your Shiba Inu will burn out.
End your sessions on a good note with high praise.
You want to leave with positive associations to set up excitement for next time.
Accentuate The Positive -
Eliminate the negative.
Shibas are sensitive creatures. They don't like human anxiety, anger, and aggression. What's more, they won't respond well to it.
Keep your treats handy and your voice chipper.
Give commands using your "command voice" and praise using your "praise voice". When undesirable behaviors appear, withdraw attention.
Create a positive and energetic response to anything good.
Remember your dog training tricks from basic obedience training. They apply to agility training as well.
Join an Agility Class - In-person or Online
It's 2021 and hope is in sight that we can soon return to outdoor events with other dog parents and their dogs.
In the meantime, it'll be a good idea to look for agility trainers who do virtual sessions.
Also, online dog agility groups like the Facebook groups earlier mentioned are great places to learn from.
Join our community of Shiba Inu parents, we'd love to hear from you!
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