(BPT) – This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Masters Agility Championship at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, presented by Purina Pro Plan. The Masters Agility Championship is a competition that showcases the incredible speed and agility for dogs as they navigate a series of obstacles on a course they have never seen before.
This competition requires speed, skill and agility, as well as a strong relationship between dog and handler. Over 350 dogs competed, including Trainer Amber McCune, who had not one but three dogs compete in this year’s premier agility competition, named Howie, Kaboom and Shelby Cobra. All three of her dogs are Border Collies and placed in their division – which is a tremendous achievement.
While agility can be a competitive sport, you don’t have to be a champion like Amber to see the benefits. With the right training and proper nutrition anyone can try their hand at this canine sport, which is growing in popularity. Inspired and interested in learning more? McCune shares her expert insight.
Physical and mental health
Agility sports require a high level of coordination, communication and teamwork between an owner and their dog. It can strengthen the relationship between them and help to keep both fit and in peak condition. Sprinting and jumping through an obstacle course is not only fun for your dog but can help build muscle, maintain a healthy weight and provide an energy release. An agility course also exercises a dog’s mind, giving them opportunities to learn and solve problems. This can also make them more well-behaved off the course.
Looking for where to get started? You can do it yourself at home or find a trainer or training school to help your dog develop their skill sets. Once your dog has completed all levels of training, the focus is to stay fit, conditioned and healthy. ‘Being able to put your dog on a fitness regimen is really important because if they aren’t fit, they can get injured quickly. Just like a person,’ McCune said.
She recommends general activities that dogs love like hiking or swimming to stay active without overdoing agility course practice.
Nutrition for healthy, active dogs
‘Nutrition is one of the most important factors that goes into a dog’s training and health,’ said McCune. ‘On a daily basis, my dogs Howie, Kaboom and Shelby Cobra eat Purina Pro Plan Sport to fuel their strength and stamina to take on the rigors of agility and to keep them at the top of their sport, especially when competing at this year’s Masters Agility Championship at Westminster.”
Benefits that McCune has seen in her dogs with Purina Pro Plan Sport include increased muscle mass, better acceleration, quicker muscle recovery time and a shiny coat.
Many handlers feed Purina Pro Plan as their nutrition of choice because it is backed by research and Purina experts, including more than 500 nutritionists, veterinarians and scientists. To learn more, visit Purina.com/Pro-Plan.
Building a close bond between owner and dog also helps form a winning team.
‘I think owners start to understand that there can be multidirectional language with their dog,’ said McCune. It’s a fast-moving, fun, high-intensity and disciplined sport. ‘I enjoy the challenge and excitement of navigating the course with my dogs and the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing each course.’ The time spent training helps create a special bond between owner and dog.
‘Ultimately, it’s about having fun together and enjoying the numerous benefits that come with the sport,’ McCune said.