Dog Agility Superstars Aren’t Born. They are Made.

Developing Your Superstar Agility Dog

In my article 6 Vital Tips This Dog Agility Trainer Needs You to Embrace, the third item I share is:

“Superstars Aren’t Born. They are Made.

Dog or human, we’re all born with unique and amazing abilities but without supportive funneling, it’s likely we may not meet our full potential and growth. This is where perception, initiative, training and action based goal setting can separate a Star from a Superstar.”

(Note: as mentioned in an earlier blog, this article assumes your dog is healthy, physically & mentally capable of doing dog agility. As a dog agility coach, I accept all teachable dogs and handlers, regardless of physical traits or genetics. This training article is dedicated to those underdogs I admire.)

Develop the Star You ARE

Myth #1 – If I buy the right dog, I’ll have an agility superstar team. Nope! No way. No can do and nice try. Believe me when I tell you that you can’t buy agility greatness in a dog, but you can develop it.

Myth #2 – If only my dog had a better handler than me. Wrong!!! Lucky for agility handlers everywhere, our dogs aren’t at all interested in saving up their hard earned liver treats in the hopes of trading us in for a different model. However, if a dog were to ask me if they could trade in their handler, I’d share that “…you can’t buy agility greatness in a handler, but you can develop it.”

“There are no short cuts in dog agility, all things great must be developed.” – Lisa Selthofer

3 Behaviors to Develop and Advance Your Agility Journey

I’ve seen it time and time again. A brand new dog owner, without an ounce of previous dog training or agility knowledge, goes on to accomplish spectacular things in dog agility. While this type of success doesn’t happen overnight, there are three things that tend to accelerate the development of a dog agility team.

Training – The ultimate goal of training dog agility skills is to establish that highly desired and confidence building “If-Then” handler-cue and dog-response behavior I referenced in All Dogs Have the Potential to be Their BEST at Agility. Training isn’t just about trying new things, it’s about creating a consistency. The “If-Then” formula requires more than simply attending a once a week agility class. Instead, think repetition. Rehearsal. Habit. Preparation. Routine. Ritual. Predictable. Procedure. Expected.

Training the Right Stuff – Practice is meaningful and advantageous, but only if you’re training the right things. Contrary to popular belief, dog agility is NOT about the quantity of training and spending hours a day on drills. Rather, it’s about the QUALITY of the training, which can be accomplished in short, manageable time increments.

Two things that provide clarity and focus in dog agility are action-based goals and micro-trainingtm (think 10-quality minutes per day). Both help to work smarter, not harder and turn specific actions into effortless and instinctive agility behaviors.

Partner with the Right Coach –

There are dog agility trainers and there are dog agility coaches and both play a critical role in the development process of a handler and their dog.

When starting out in dog agility, almost everyone utilizes a trainer to learn the core agility tasks, skills, lessons, techniques and to provide necessary instruction on the fundamental information required by all agility participants. A trainer presents the education in class and it is ultimately the handler’s responsibility to determine where and how to apply that knowledge on and around an agility course.

After the core agility skills have been established, the majority of dog agility teams desire further growth and will move on to work with a coach for advanced development. An experienced coach will work with a team on specific personalized action-based goals that incorporate a team’s strengths while developing their weaknesses.

Finding the right coach is more than locating someone close to your home. In this day and age of technology (cell phones do both video and visual meetings) the dog agility options are right at your finger tips.

If you are interested in further developing your agility handling skills, check out Sequencing for Success.

Where To Go From Here

In the meantime, stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll discuss why You Must Define Your Own Agility Goals and please share this article with your friends on social media now.

Also, if you enjoyed this article and would like to automatically receive the next upcoming blog post in your email, please complete the form below.

Happy Handling!

Lisa Selthofer

Articles In The Superstar Series:

  1. 6 Vital Tips This Dog Agility Trainer Needs You to Embrace
  2. 3 Traits of a Successful Agility Handler
  3. All Dogs Have the Potential to be Their BEST in Agility
  4. Dog Agility Superstars Aren’t Born. They Are Made
  5. 10 Simple (But Important) Things to Remember About Your Agility Goals
  6. Never Compare Your Agility Journey to the Journey of Others (coming soon)
  7. It Doesn’t Matter What Others Think (coming soon)


As a 20+ year dog agility coach, I am passionate about producing quality resources for dog agility teams by promoting self-development and delivering clear and specific training solutions that enable teams’ to perform with clarity and confidence!

My unique experience as a hands-on trainer and 18+ year dog agility judge led me to create Sequencing For Success and the highly successful 2on-2off Contact Training DVD.

Our household has included Dalmatians, Labradors, Belgian Tervuren, Border Collies and engaging cats.

Contact Lisa via email AgilityOne at (replace at with @ sign)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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