Welcome to Agility Addicts, home of the AGILITY FORUM

Agility Addicts runs several agility shows a year designed to be supportive of new handlers and dogs, while providing proper competition conditions for all dog heights and levels. Find out more in our Shows section.

Getting Yourself, Your Dog and Your Car Ready

Things to take for yourself

Top of the list to take for yourself must be a pair of trainers with a good grip, e.g. astroturf boots, hockey boots or fell running shoes. Nobody enjoys landing face down in the mud (except those watching you do it!).

If it's likely to be wet and muddy, you may want to take a change of clothes and socks. If it's going to be sunny, remember the sun protection cream, sunglasses and maybe a baseball cap. Mind you, given this is the UK, whatever the weather forecast you're probably as well taking waterproofs.

You'll want to take something to eat and drink at the show, or cash to spend at the food van and the trade stands. If you're a vegetarian, be warned that most catering vans at shows are of the bacon and burgers variety.

If you're on any medication, make sure you have that with you, and ideally also a mobile phone so you can be contacted, or contact others, in an emergency.

Remember to pack the running orders that will have arrived a few days beforehand from the show you're off to! And the directions to the show from the schedule, plus a map or sat nav to guide you to the venue.

Finally, and most importantly, take a toilet roll! The standard of the "facilities" varies from show to show, and loo rolls often run out ...

Things to take for your dog

Remember the things you're going to use to motivate your dog with - toys, dog treats.

Don't take toys or treats into the ring, but a glimpse of a favourite ball or lick of a favourite tidbit may do wonders for your dog's concentration in the queue or around the rings. Just don't squeak a ball or use a clicker near the rings as it might distract the dogs currently working.

The boring and sensible stuff needs to be taken too, such as dog leads. Remember poo bags (or nappy sacks). Shows can and do ask you to leave if you don't pick up after your dog.

Pack your dog's water bowl and a bottle of water. Maybe some food to be given at the end of the competition, if you have a long drive home.

Consider where the dog is going to spend its day. That will normally be in your car, either on the back seat or in the boot. A nice comfortable fleece to lie on wouldn't go amiss. And a towel to dry your dog off if it rains is also a good idea.

Other sensible stuff to include would be a basic first aid kit for your dog. Even if it's just Vetwrap and a few dressing pads. You can buy kits at various petshops, or ask your vet what she recommends and make up your own kit. Once you've had the kit for a while, check expiry dates on antiseptic creams etc.

It may help to draw up a checklist of your dog's 'luggage' for the show. Otherwise you might forget the dog's paddling pool!

Keeping your car cool in warm weather

There are two ways to keep your car cool, and for best results you need to use both!

First of all, the car should be as well ventilated as possible. The ideal solution is a car cage or a tailgate guard, to prevent your dog from escaping while allowing the boot to be left fully open so your dog gets plenty of fresh air. Do a search on Google to find one of the several manufacturers producing car cages and guards in the UK.

You can also get trellis vents to use on back windows, to allow them to be rolled down partway without letting the dog get out (assuming the dog is loose in the main part of the car). Or if you're lucky, the tailgate on your car might have an opening window.

Remember the need for security, though. Unfortunately the threat of dog thefts is a constant problem, even at agility shows. Lock your car's doors, and padlock cages or tailgate guards if you're leaving your boot open.

Secondly, use blankets, sheets or reflective sheeting to shade your mobile metal furnace! Many of us start with what's to hand, such as a few white bedsheets. Better are the foil-type survival blankets sold at camping shops, or reflective sheeting sold at the trade stands at many dog shows.

Don't try to get one huge sheet to cover the entire car. It's easier to put them on, get in and out of the car while they're in place, and to fold them up afterwards if you have 2 or 3 smaller sheets.

Top tip: park your car with the bonnet facing south. Meaning that when you arrive at a show in the morning, you should ideally park with the sun on your left as you drive into your parking spot. That way your boot, with the dogs, will be facing north and stay cooler!

Keeping your dog cool in warm weather

The best way to keep your dog cool is to start with the information above and keep your car cool!

Make sure your dog has fresh water constantly available. Dogs that have constant access to water are far less likely to overheat than dogs who are only given a drink at intervals, whenever the owner happens to remember.

There are reflective dog coats on the market. These are shaped like ordinary dog coats, and are made of the reflective material often sold as car sunshades. They may well be of benefit to some dogs, others don't like them. Remember there is no point putting a reflective coat on an already hot dog - it'll simply keep the heat in!

Alternatively, you can make a 'wet coat' by sewing one or two towels together into a dog coat shape, with velcro straps for holding it in place. Soak it in lots of water to cool your dog off. As with the reflective coats, this seems to benefit some dogs more than others. And should not be left on once it warms up as it'll have the opposite effect to the one desired then.

On a very hot day, don't drag your dog around the show with you. Being out in the sunshine, even with a reflective coat on, will soon prove very tiring. He'll be cooler and fresher in your car if you've followed the above tips.

Hot weather kills dogs.
Always provide your dog with water, air and shade!

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