What can an owner do to minimize distractions to their dog in the agility ring?
A key component in doing well in agility competitions is the ability to focus. Dogs who are easily distracted or do not follow commands and directions well typically will not do well on an agility course. It’s a handler’s job to keep a dog focused on the obstacle course, and minimize distractions for the dog when in the agility ring. A dog who is focused on the task at hand will complete the course with greater speed and accuracy than a dog who is unfocused and distracted.
One way that an owner can minimize distractions when inside the agility ring is to provide ample training before the actual competition. By having the dog practice on the types of obstacles that will be used in the competition, you can assure he will not be surprised by any new things inside the ring. Teaching a dog to respond to the sound of your voice or your whistle will help keep him focused as well. Many owners also teach their dogs “watch me” to make sure that their dogs’ eyes are always on them when they need to be.
Most dogs will have a lot of energy and excitement when it comes to competition time. Make sure a dog who is competing in an agility competition has had enough sleep, food and water so that these needs are not a distraction. Many competitions will also have practice rings where owners can work with dogs before the competition to practice obstacles and following commands.