The above photo is Camilla sprinting out of the tunnel at the 2016 BC/Yukon Regional Agility Championship! We are busy preparing for the 2017 Regional and National Championships this summer. To keep training sessions fun and productive I have an “agility bag” full of different toys. Camilla is both food and toy motivated so I always incorporate both into our training sessions.
If you are just starting out in agility I would suggest you have at least one toy you can easily throw and another toy for playing tug.
Having a toy you can easily throw is great way to instantly reward your dog. When practicing distant obstacles I always throw the reward out to Camilla instead of inadvertently training her to run back to me for the reward. This is particularly important when you are training a sequence of distance obstacles and need your dog to keep their distance away from you.
I also used a throwable toy to improve Camilla’s speed through tunnels. At first, I would throw the toy into the tunnel in front of her to increase her drive into the tunnel. Eventually, I would only throw the toy as she was exiting the tunnel, so she would learn the faster she ran through the tunnel, the faster she would get her toy.
Playing tug is one of Camilla’s favorite games so tug toys are great for getting her riled up before running a course or as a reward after. I particularly use tug toys when practicing the weaves because it increases her drive and speed. It’s obviously possible to use a tug toy as your “throwable toy” but the fluffy ones don’t go very far … 🙂
Of course all dogs have their own toy preferences but here are the toys I use!
Camilla’s top 3 picks:
1. Lotus Ball Treat Dispensing, Pull Apart Toy (size small) $8.95 USD
Camilla’s favorite toy in life is her ball! However, in agility the Lotus Ball (ball + food) probably wins first place. The Lotus Ball has three sides lined with Velcro so the dog can pull apart the toy to get to the treats inside.
2. ChuckIt! Ultra Ball (size small) 2 for $8.99 USD
You can find these little orange balls at almost any pet store. They are made of natural rubber, which makes them extra bouncy, durable, and easy to clean!
3. Wild Thing Bungee Ring Tug Toy $14.99 USD
This fuzzy tug is made of faux fur and is Camilla’s favorite tug toy! It has a bungee handle, which acts as a shock absorber and prevents the dog from jerking your arm.
Although Camilla does have some favorite toys – she does thoroughly enjoy playing with every toy in her “agility bag” – variety is key!
Here are the rest of her agility toys – they are numbered in no particular order.
4. Fleecy Fluffy Fur Braided Tug Toy – Sheep (size small) $12.99 USD
The fleece tug is made of thick/soft USA sheepskin that is braided together with polar fleece.
5. Natural Wool Tug Toy (size medium) $10.00 CAD
This natural wool tug toy was made locally in Vancouver, BC. You have to contact the company directly to purchase the toy. They typically only sell these toys at Pet Expos so it is not listed on their website. Wool is a great agility toy since it is water and dirt resistant.
6. Hi-Drive Udder Tug – Fleece $9.95 USD
There are a lot of variations of the “udder tug” toys – I decided to get one with fleece. They are made from recycled rubber liners from cow milking machines, hence the name. The rubber is sanitized but still maintains its “cow essence.”
7. TugAway Throw N Roll Treat Pouch $18.95 USD
This is a fur Frisbee with a treat pouch, which I won at an agility trial so I am not sure exactly where it is from. I attached the link to a similar product.
8. COLLAR Puller Training Ring (mini) 2 for $18.00 CAD
The puller ring is great for tugging or throwing. I like that its not a super hard rubber, it has some give so you can play tug. As you can see in the photo, there are a lot of bite marks but Camilla hasn’t managed to bite off any small pieces.