Roger Salmon column

Roger Salmon.
Roger Salmon.

I recently wrote an article about the advantage of exercise to you and your dog but one activity which is particularly useful is joining a training class.

It is not surprising that these activities are so popular and addictive – a complete break from the stresses of everyday life.

Owners enjoy the challenge of teaching their dog new activities and the satisfaction of working as a team.

These activities are only appropriate once dogs have finished growing as highly intensive exercise is not recommended while the skeleton is still developing but once decided upon local clubs can be found advertised in vet waiting rooms, groomers or boarding kennels.

Dog agility involves training dogs to correctly negotiate a series of obstacles against the clock.

Classes involve elements such as jumps, tunnels and slalom with contact equipment like the A frame, seesaw and dog walk. Any dog can participate and there are height classes to cater for different sizes.

Agility is a great leisure activity and many participate purely for the fun of it whereas others enjoy the competitive element. Competition can involve working through seven grades by winning classes until able to compete at championship status.

The fast and furious sport of Flybal uses the dogs ability to catch and retrieve.

Dogs compete in teams to race over a series of hurdles to a box which releases a ball for them to catch when they press a button.

They then race back to their handler with the ball. Dogs of all sizes can compete and owners of any fitness and ability can get involved. All sorts of dogs excel in the sport, with speed, fitness and intelligence being great attributes and it is a useful way to exercise highly energetic dogs with a strong desire to work.

More recently the sport of Canicross involves dogs and owners running across country together attached by a bungee line - dogs wearing a harness and owners a belt.

Participating in a canine sport takes a lot of patience, time and training but above all it should always be seen as a pleasure and a time to relax.