Agility has much to offer. There are many articles about how the sport can build confidence in a shy dog, form a better bond between human and dog, and the countless techniques for training each of the obstacles. There are obvious benefits for our dogs, so what about benefits for us?
As a side note, I am neither a physical health nor a mental health professional. I have worked with people in some tough environments for the past decade and have a good grasp on what makes people feel good. I am a certified dog trainer with an ambition for getting people hooked on healthy activities in union with their canine companions.
At the start of beginners agility class, the participants are a little nervous, yet excited, not sure what to expect. I’d say agility not only brings out shy dogs but people too. We push ourselves to try something new and creative. Once it’s apparent there are multiple way to accomplish a goal (or obstacle) the participants seem to warm quickly and begin having fun.
As a trainer, I’ve noticed how happy and upbeat the agility classes are. Inhibitions aside, our goal is to make this the most amazing experience for our dog. We make funny noises and faces, crawl into tunnels, and run until we have sweat beating down our foreheads. It’s similar to children on a playground. Our heart rates and spirits high. I just love and must share the following quote:
“Ideally play is joyful and childlike, a physically and psychologically healthy exercise for both people and dogs. Psychologists and spiritual counselors advise us all to put more childlike play into our lives. I think it’s great advice: play is good for our spirits, our bodies, and our minds. It teaches us, both dogs and humans, to coordinate our efforts with others and to share the ball even when we want it for ourselves.”
― Patricia B. McConnell, The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
A recent study at the University of Massachusetts Department of Kinesiology, published by zoomroomonline.com, found that when considering oxygen consumption during dog agility training, it is considered “vigorous” physical activity. When considering heart rate, dog agility training is considered “hard” or “vigorous” physical activity. There have not been many scientific studies on this topic. I do know, as one who wears a heart rate monitor and activity tracker, my numbers reach a healthy activity level during class. I hope to see more studies in the future.
Nearing the end of agility class, participants can’t just stop after they’ve seen their dog barrel through a tunnel, sore over a jump and turn to them as if to say, “Tunnel, jump, what next!!!” You can’t find that motivation at the gym. Have fun! It may be good for your heart in more ways than one.
Jennifer Wilmes – ABCDT
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