Dog agility games have gained a lot popularity in recent years and for good reasons! Moreover, in addition to those already present in the big cities, we see a growing number of small clubs developing in the suburbs. This activity is interesting because it calls on many of your dog’s abilities. It mobilizes the animal’s agility, endurance, intelligence and listening skills at the same time.
However, keep in mind dog agility games are practiced with the master or the owner! You will therefore need to show respect and patience to keep pace with your dog, and not the other way around.
What is Agility?
Agility for dogs is a bit like a show jumping competition for horses. This discipline is therefore characterized by an obstacle course (not just jumping) that your dog will have to complete in a given time. Agility can be practiced as a simple leisure activity for your dog to exercise, but also at a high level.
Moreover, there are many local competitions as well as international championships. Agilists, as they are called, can compete based on their specific level, namely “beginner” level, 1st degree, 2nd degree and 3rd degree. Logically, the higher you go, the more difficult the activity becomes. It’s a discipline of speed and precision par excellence and demands a lot of energy and endurance from your dog.
What are the benefits of dog agility games?
At first, Agility will allow you and your dog to share a sporting activity together. This will therefore strengthen and develop the bond and trust between your dog and yourself. Communication between your animal and yourself will also improve quite a bit. Indeed, this discipline is practiced without any physical contact, leash or collar. It is therefore only by voice and by gestures that you will guide your dog.
In addition to working on communication and agility, this very physical activity will allow your dog to let off a lot of steam. Finally, if you are part of a club, you will be asked to share this activity with other dog owners. This will therefore allow your canine friend to meet friends and socialize.
Is Agility suitable for my dog?
Dog agility games are not for all dogs. In theory yes, all dogs are, a priori, capable of jumping over obstacles, going through a tunnel or even doing a slalom. In practice, it is an extremely intense physical discipline for dogs and it is therefore recommended to run a complete examination from your veterinarian before embarking on this practice, especially for medium and large dogs.
Personally, my English Bulldog is definitely not fitting the bill! The veterinarian will check, for example, that your dog does not suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia.
Note that the recommended minimum age to practice this discipline in competition is 18 months. Unfortunately, some dog owners want to take advantage of the young dog’s learning abilities and they start way too early. Moreover, nearly 40% of dogs get into competitions at just 18 months and 75% before the age of 24 months.
Be careful, too intense activity in young dogs is harmful! So, if you want to practice this discipline as a hobby or a competition, be patient. Respect your dog and his growth, he will pay you back a hundredfold. And if you ever want to practice a discipline closer to nature and discover your dog’s great abilities, discover Mantrailing!
What is Mantrailing?
In recent years, Mantrailing has become a more and more popular discipline for people that love dogs and nature. Usually practiced outdoors, it stimulates your dog’s most developed sense that we sometimes tend to forget: his sense of smell. This activity gives your canine friend the opportunity to exercise both physically and mentally. It also allows you to rediscover the immensity of your dog’s abilities.
Mantrailing is an activity that came straight from the United States. Besides, the word Mantrailing is made up of the English words “man” and “trail” which means to pursue. The objective of this discipline is therefore to train dogs in the search for missing persons by relying on their natural tracking skills.
Mantrailing can be used for very serious purposes, such as helping the police when people are missing. However, there is also a more fun and sporty version that is suitable for everyone and for which learning techniques are not very different. In addition to making you discover abilities that you did not suspect in your dog, this discipline will allow you to strengthen the bonds that unite you with your four-legged companion, much like dog agility games.
How is Mantrailing done?
There are a number of things that you need to do to practice Mantrailing. The first is to find an instructor. Indeed, the presence of a qualified person in the field is necessary. He will be able to decipher the behavior of your dog in order to adapt the tracks to his physical and mental condition and adapt to the dog’s level. Moreover, it is strongly recommended to join a specialized club when you start this activity
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. A Mantrailing session takes place with the help of four “players”: the instructor, the “victim” to seek, you and of course, your dog! At the start of the session, we begin by presenting to the dog an object impregnated with the smell of the “victim”. Once your dog has sniffed out the scent, it’s up to you to give the signal to go.
Your dog will then go in search of the “victim” by sorting out all the smells he meets on his way. Depending on its endurance and its level, the tracks will be more or less long. Once the “victim” has been found, your dog will designate it by adopting a dedicated behavior. For example, he will sit down or lie down. Don’t forget to reward him!
Can Your Dog Practice Mantrailing?
All dogs can practice Mantrailing, that’s what is great about this activity! No discrimination … small or large, hunting or shepherd dog, bulldog or labrador … everyone can participate. All dogs can become excellent at this discipline since it makes them use their most powerful senses.
In addition to allowing them to stimulate their sense of smell, this activity allows them to exercise both physically and mentally. Mantrailing is therefore a very rich activity for your doggie. However, be careful when practicing with a hunting dog who could be disturbed by the environment. Dogs that are suspicious of humans can also be aggressive and you will need to manage what’s going on around your dog not just the activity itself.
In short, contrary to dog agility games, this activity is made for all doggies. Don’t worry, yours won’t be more “better” or “worse” than the others. Each dog goes at its own pace. There will inevitably be differences depending on their character, their breed or their physical condition, but everyone will be able to exercise and work their sense of smell in the open air and that can only do them good!