A great question that is often posed for many reasons is how to keep up with a dog that is faster than the handler. If you have this question, rest assured you are not alone. You don’t have to have an insanely fast dog to be left in the dust. Many handlers have their own limitations or injuries that don’t allow them to be quick on the field and that is just fine. Dog agility is about teamwork and while some may prefer to run alongside their dog those that cannot still have a lot of options to allow them and their dogs to succeed in dog agility.
Distance work is the answer for those team where the confident dog that far outruns the handler and has no issues running solo. The handler needs to have clear verbal cues for obstacles and direction as well as hand/body signals to guide these dogs to the finish line. You can also try venues that are geared toward distance work such as NADAC.
If you are able to keep up but just need some course advantage, you need to learn how to read your course maps and plan your lines that will give you the shortest distance compared to your dog. Shortcuts and energy conserving lines will become the mainstay of your planning. This may mean learning some of the more difficult handling techniques such as blind crosses, but in short time you and your dog will be pros.
And it may seem like the obvious, but getting your body in condition for running dog agility is just as important as getting your dog’s body in condition. Cardiovascular, sprinting, agility and believe it or not, good shoes. We have seen some run barefoot, which is fine if it is allowed and works for your team, but we recommend shoes designed for the ground you will be competing in. Good traction that allows for strong turns and quick stops can not only help your time but also avoid accidents. This will mean you may need several pairs of shoes for different running conditions.
Just know that there are handlers confined to wheelchairs competing with crazy fast dogs, you can do it too. With specific training to address your team’s weakness and capitalize on your strengths is all that is needed for your success.