Finally – it’s time to make the official announcement! Agility training is coming to Banff!
It’s so exciting, I don;t even know where to begin!
So let me start by introducing the idea and concept and the bigger picture: Starting on Sunday June 29th, between 5pm and 7pm, Wags unlimited will be offering Open Agility Drop-in: in Banff!!! The aim is to keep it going weekly for the whole summer season: every Sunday, with very few exceptions.
Students can attend from 5-6 or 6-7pm. A drop-in fee will apply. Any level, any age dog is welcome as this class is not about height of jump – but more about Foundation Handling and foundation skills: the place where every new agility dog needs to start.
One of the main points of agility is to be able to work together as a Team: “running with your dog with obstacles in the way” – and as such, it’s really the Togetherness that counts. What the true goal of this summer’s program is: is that you will be able to take your dogs’ leash off and your dog will choose to stay and eagerly work and run with you! So, this summer – the equipment will be fairly simple: jumps, tunnels – perhaps a bit of contact training work (the stuff that should be done before actually putting a dog on a teeter/ A-frame or dog walk), and if we get really keen students, we may introduce the concept of weave poles. But the focus is going to be on “running together” and the Relationship: being able to work your dog off leash. Simply put: What’s the point of having good understanding for a fancy piece of equipment if your dog will run his own way and won’t stay with you to work when you take the leash off?
We’re going to play around a fair bit with jumping and striding drills – exercises that are fun for both human and dog and create a dog who starts to really LOVE jumping and is a keen athletic jumper – like the sheltie you see in the photo above 🙂 Although any age dog is welcome to participate in the Drop-in Agility program, puppies will not be jumping any height – dogs must be over 12 months old to start the jump drills. The jumping exercises will be modified to be appropriate and no impact for youngsters.
So by now you’re thinking: Off leash? Where? and How?
We’ve been granted an amazing privilege and all of this FUN will take place at the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course – down by the driving range. When arriving there on a Sunday afternoon – you’ll no doubt notice the fully fenced area that we’ll joyfully call our “Sunday home”! We’ll have our agility haven inside sturdy elk fencing that during winter months is used to keep elk away from the golf greens. How clever is that 🙂 Now we’re going to use it to safely keep dogs in. So this means that we can work dogs safely off leash and rest assured no dog will take off, run away and next be found in Kananaskis Country.
In addition to the Drop-in sessions that are open to all levels, including the very novice and young – we’re hoping to see some students also get seriously hooked (if not already?!) and perhaps want to advance and train at a different level and speed. The Serious Enthusiasts group will end the Sunday agility programs by meeting from 7-8pm – (some pre-requisites apply and registration will be required for these sessions) – the 7-8pm session will be for dogs who have completed foundation training and would like to start doing some “detail training” and work on sequences and putting their handling to the test a little bit. We’ll be running handling drills and doing skills-drills with this group.
Having witnessed group agility classes where agility seems to be synonymous with mayhem and out of control off leash dogs – we’ll have some guidelines in place to make sure this class is safe in other regards than fencing, too. Dogs waiting for their next turn will either be crated in their own crate beside the owner, or waiting and watching from outside the fence area.
The other exciting piece of this is that the Fairmont Clubhouse Grill at the Golf Course has opened up their outdoor patio for all of us dog people to stay after agility training – go sit down and have dinner or drinks — AND bring our dogs along on the patio! How cool is that!
For any of you who also have kids – bring your kids, too – as next to our agility area, will be a lovely 9 hole kids golf course that families can play (if you’re invited by a child!)
SO, that’s really the program in a nutshell for now. It is a pilot program for all involved parties, never tried in this format before. It’s an attempt to come together to create Community – bring out families, kids, dogs – and share some fun and great times together on Sunday afternoons!
And I am sure the undertone can be heard that I, like probably many others, hope this can become a staple program and something we build on from here. What an amazing opportunity!
And here’s a bonus reward if you made it to here:
And finally – the reward for you, if you’re local and have read this far: We’re doing a test class this Sunday – June 21st and I have room to take a few additional “guinea pig students” to come and participate in this trial class. We’ll do jump/stride drills and do some fun games around off leash reliability/ basic handling 🙂
If you think the idea of agility in Banff sounds fun and you would like to test it out this Sunday: let me know you’d like to attend the trial class! Sound like fun? It should!!
There will be a 5-6pm session and a 6-7pm session. Friendly dogs only, please. Please message through FB, email or get in touch somehow to let me know you’re interested!! We will limit the test sessions at a handfull of dogs. As of this moment: we have space for a few more keen locals to join…oh – and the cost to be a guinea pig? Nothing! You allow us the pleasure to let us test the fence/ entries/ set up, size of area we have right now …etc/ no cost. Just pure fun!
Wow. I hope you’re as excited as I am! Hope to see many of you through the summer season in the spirit of agility!! May the training begin! — and please Be prepared to get completely hooked 🙂