How to Start an Agility Puppy

Keep obstacles minimal to build confidence in your puppy.
Agility 14 image by Conny Hagen from

Building a trusting relationship that lasts between you and your puppy can be achieved through early agility training. Encouraging your puppy to focus on you rather than the many distractions around you sets the stage for a successful agility career. Giving the puppy confidence is essential, and it's important to keep jumps and obstacles low to the ground while your puppy is still growing. Begin with small tasks and reward your puppy often. Before beginning agility training, your puppy should know how to sit on command.

Stay Table

Step 1

Your puppy will learn to wait for your cue on the stay table.
warten auf frauchen image by Frank-Peter Funke from

Ask your puppy to step up onto the stay table, which should be less than a foot of the ground. Choose a cue word to say as she steps onto the table, such as "table" or "box." Praise her as soon as she is on the table, both vocally and by giving her a treat.

Step 2

Have your puppy sit on the stay table for several seconds. Give her a vocal cue such as "off" to release her from the table, and allow her to jump or step down. Praise your puppy vocally and with a treat.

Step 3

Repeat the cue to jump onto the stay table, and ask your puppy to stay for slightly longer periods as you progress.

Jump Standards and Small Jumps

Step 1

Lead your puppy between two jump standards. Do not use any poles for her to jump. As she moves through the standards, say a cue such as "jump" or "up." Praise your puppy vocally and by giving her a treat.

Step 2

Ask your puppy to go between the jump standards alone by giving her the vocal cue you have chosen. Lead her to them, and walk around the standards as she moves through them.

Step 3

Send your puppy through the jump standards and onward to the stay table. This begins to build a pattern for your puppy. Gradually add several other jump standards once your puppy understands the vocal cue, but always end on the stay table for continuity and to reinforce prior training.

Step 4

Place jump poles on the ground between the standards so your puppy becomes accustomed to stepping over them.Ask your veterinarian when your puppy will be able to jump over small obstacles without risk of injury.


  • Be careful not to lure your puppy through exercises with food. Treats should be a reward for a task performed. If you lure your puppy, she will focus on the treat instead of you.

  • Train your puppy in short sessions. Repeat an exercise three times before giving your puppy a break. She will have better focus with several short training sessions rather than one long session.

Items You Will Need

  • Small "stay" table
  • Dog treats, diced cooked chicken or cheese
  • Agility jump standards
  • Agility jump poles


About the Author

Kimberly DeCosta is an accomplished equestrian and entrepreneur. She has written for numerous equestrian publications and authored marketing packages for large companies and sports teams.

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