Corgi Agility Trainingby Melinda Weaver
Corgis don't look like athletes with their short, stubby legs, but they are originally bred to herd, making them faster and more agile than they appear. Corgis may be stubborn, but exercise makes them a better family pet. Thus, agility can be a fun activity to bond with Corgis while training them and giving them additional exercise.
Before beginning agility training with your Corgi, it will need some basic skills, such as stay and recall. Since agility is done off-leash, these skills provide you with the control you need to take the leash off and help your dog learn to run through the course. To teach either skill, start small. When first teaching stay, don't take more than a couple of steps. If your dog breaks the stay, you're moving too fast. Build up to walking a few feet away and calling your dog. Use treats during recall training so your dog is always excited to come to you. If your dog can't come, decrease the distance and keep practicing. Always use a leash in the early stages of training so that you can bring your dog back to you if it makes a mistake.
There are many pieces of equipment on an agility course that can look threatening to a young Corgi, such as tunnels, a see-saw and the plank. Because the see-saw moves with your dog's weight and the plank is so high off the ground, your dog needs to be exposed to these in a positive way to make agility fun. Start by exposing them to the equipment when it is on the ground and gradually build height. For the tunnels, make them as short as possible so your Corgi can see through. Reward with treats while your dog is on the equipment. If it jumps off early, don't give a reward. Calmly lead the dog back and try again.
Though Corgis have short legs, they can still jump. If your Corgi is 8 inches tall, it will be in the 8-inch jump category, which means the jumps are 8 inches tall. If your Corgi is taller than that, it will be in the 12-inch jump category. Don't start at this height, especially with a puppy. Because Corgis have a long back, they are prone to back trouble, so consult your veterinarian on the proper age to begin jump training. Usually this will be after your dog is a year old.
Weave Pole Training
The most difficult obstacle to train on an agility course is the weave poles. Many training companies put wires curving out from each pole in a bow to prevent the dog from running past the poles and to guide it through the next pole. When you begin training, keep your Corgi on leash to help guide it more efficiently. Avoid using a treat after each pole since that will slow the learning process.
Corgis are known for their stubborn personalities, so make agility training fun. Use rewards early in training and praise during all stages of training to encourage your dog to keep going. Because Corgis may get tired, start training in short amounts to keep them excited for the next session. If your Corgi is too tired, training won't be effective. If your Corgi isn't listening, put the dog on a leash to reduce its freedom on the course while you show the dog what it needs to do. Continue to use praise, but only use the top rewards when your Corgi is performing well off-leash.
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- corgi image by Cindy Haggerty from Fotolia.com