Doggy Training

Barley’s Tails on His Agility Journey

Dog agility journey from barley

Hello! Let me introduce myself. My name is Barley but also go by the names of Barley Baby, Barley Stay, Barley Leave and Barley Don’t Eat That. In this log I’m going to tell you all about my most favourite thing to do (apart from eat)…AGILITY!

When I was in puppy classes last year, the lovely Jordan mentioned that the lovely Emily (I can’t choose which one I like the best) was going to be starting up agility classes for young dogs. At the time I was too busy sniffing around for a dropped treat so when I heard my trained human say ‘Barley will love that’ – naturally I thought she was talking about food (I am a Labrador after all). So, imagine my surprise when I was taken out of the car to be greeted by Emily and a field FULL of the most AMAZING agility equipment. Naturally I had no idea what any of this stuff was, but it looked very exciting –like one massive playground for dogs! I think my human was a bit disappointed that only the dog gets to go through the tunnels and over the jumps – but let’s be honest, she’d have probably gotten stuck or fallen over and I do have my street cred to think about!

I started when I was just shy of 6 months old, and we’ve been doing it for nearly a year. When I started, we kept everything ‘flat’ to protect my growing joints and muscles – there is still so much that you can learn without having to physically jump or go up and down ramps. Emily is brilliant and she’s helping my human train me to be my absolute best. According to my human it’s helping through my ‘difficult teenage phase’ (surely, I’m a delight?) as it
encourages her to still train with me and strengthens our bond. I come from a long line of working dogs so am inclined to get bored easily; having a ‘job’ helps keep my brain working as I learn to read my human’s body and voice signals and she learns how to ‘think like a dog’ and how best to guide me through the course.

We build our agility training into our daily routines; I particularly love practising my ‘wiggle’ as at the end of weaving through poles I get to demolish my dinner (it take about 3 seconds). In the agility field, my favourite obstacle is the tunnel and I also love the feeling of flying when doing the A frame – even if doing so gives Emily some premature grey hairs (apparently, you’re supposed to take a few strides in between).

I’m hoping to be able to compete sometime in the future, I’m not ready yet as whilst I do all the obstacles, I don’t always do them in the right order. But the improvements that I’m making each week are making my human very proud of me and I love the rewards at the end when we’ve got it right.

If you like the sound of agility – why don’t you give it a try with your own trained human? They don’t need to be super sporty as you don’t have to keep up with your dog. This is good news for my own human as she says I’d give Usain Bolt a good run for his money. You also don’t need to be training to compete – we love agility for just being agility - but my human is one of those competitive types who likes to have something to ‘aim’ for so that’s our goal
for when I am about 2.

Hope to see you on the agility course soon. Wags and licks, Barley xxx