Dogs

5 Exercises for Your Small Dog

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Agility is a competitive sport where you and your dog team up to run an obstacle course dotted with hurdles, above-ground tunnels and elevated dog walks (think dog balance beams). Your dog responds to your hand commands and body movements to know what to do.

Although many of the dogs participating in agility tend to be medium to large dogs, your pint-sized friend can join in the fun with just a few adjustments.

"Most agility venues use the exact same courses for small dogs as for big dogs," says Trisha Stall of AgileDogs Agility Training. "The only real differences are the amount of time allowed to complete the course and rate of speed expected from the dog."

Small dogs may also need special training for some of the obstacles. For instance, the dog must weave in and out of a series of vertically positioned poles. Stall explains that most poles are 24 inches (61 centimeters) apart. While larger dogs can take one stride between poles, smaller dogs must take at least one extra step. So they need to be taught how to get through the course as fast as possible given their size.

To create a more even playing field, a separate agility league called Teacup Dogs Agility Association (TDAA) was created in 1996. The equipment is scaled down, the distance between obstacles is shorter, and it's open to small dogs of all breeds. Check out the TDDA Web site for a league near you.

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