Agility is an important part of any training. It is naive to assume that your dog will only be protecting you and your family on level ground, with no obstacles. A good example is of a would-be thief pointing a fire-arm at a clerk behind the counter of a general store. In such a situation, a security dog kept in back will have mere seconds to get across that counter to disarm the criminal. This is just one of many situations in which a dog’s ability to quickly and easily traverse tough obstacles can mean the difference between life or death. This is why agility for dogs is one of the most important training goal.
Agility training is performed through the use of various obstacles set up in a course which the dog navigates with verbal instructions from the handler. The most common obstacles include pipes and tunnels, poles intended to be weaved around, A-Frame structures intended to be scaled and descended, elevated planks and boardwalks, see-saws intended to be traversed from one end to the other, and various hoops and jumps. As the dog advances in training, higher jumps and more complicated courses are introduced. It is often beneficial to re-arrange the course regularly in order to maintain an element of unfamiliarity.
We at CCK9 don’t train our protection dogs using traditional agility training methods. Our course is comprised of barrels, ladders, skids, wooden planks, corrugated metal, glass, and plastic. We expose all of our German Shepherd puppies, Belgian Malinois puppies, puppies to our agility course at a very young age. In fact, we start them at 5 weeks of age. We feel that the most important time for a pup is between 5 and 8 weeks; this is more important than the next 6 months of the puppy’s life. At 5 weeks, the puppy is exposed to different environments and surfaces. The pups learn rear foot placement by practicing on an elevated four-inch plank. Rear foot placement is necessary for more advanced exercises such as climbing a ladder or scaling a wall. It is also helpful in getting a dog use to heights. It sounds extreme, but it’s necessary when, for example, a protection dog needs to be deployed up the wall to apprehend a suspect.