What Are the Best Dog Agility Flatwork Exercises?

Dog agility requires lots of exercise and activity to stay in shape. For your pup to stay ahead of the game, it’s important to incorporate agility flatwork exercises into their routine. Doing so will help them improve coordination, flexibility, speed, and accuracy.

You can easily incorporate ground-work, jumps, weaves, tunnels, and contacts into their training—and the best part is that it can be done indoors or outdoors! With a little bit of practice and patience, your pup will soon be mastering these agility flatwork exercises like a pro!


Ground-work is an important foundation for any dog agility training, as it sets the stage for mastering the more advanced obstacles down the road. Start with basic exercises like heeling, stations, and moving between containers. Heeling involves training your dog to walk alongside you on leash, and stations help with focus, sit and stay commands.

Moving between containers encourages your dog to stay on the move and to stay focused on the task at hand. Jumps are great for developing your dog’s cognitive skills as well as their physical agility.

Introduce this obstacle with an understanding of the basics. Have your dog jump over a low object, such as a stick or broom handle, then gradually raise it higher.

Once your pup is comfortable, start adding formal jumps with obstacles such as A-frames and teeter-totters.

Weaves are a great way to increase your pup’s agility and speed. Introduce your dog to the weave poles by using a low object such as a broom handle, then slowly increase the height of the obstacle. Once your pup is comfortable, you can introduce a formal weave pattern with several poles.

To hone their skills, practice weaving in and out of a figure-8 pattern or over and around a cone.

Tunnels are also a great agility obstacle, but make sure to introduce it slowly. Start with a basic tunnel of low height and work your way up to more complex patterns. Contacts are a great way to sharpen your pup’s focus, agility and speed. Start with a short and low contact obstacle like a plank or an A-frame, then gradually increase the height and distance.

Heeling Exercises

Heeling is an important exercise for dog agility that involves teaching your dog to stay near you as you move about. Start by getting your dog used to walking on a leash and then progress to walking in a straight line or in circles around you. As your pup gets more comfortable, you can introduce turns and changes of direction while heeling.

Make sure to reward your dog with treats and praise when he performs the heeling exercises correctly.

Once your dog is comfortable with the basics of heeling, you can start introducing more advanced commands like sit, down, stay, and come. Use hand signals and verbal cues to give your dog commands and ensure that he is following them properly. It’s important to reward your pup for performing the exercise correctly and always be patient and consistent.

Practice heeling in a variety of environments so that your dog is comfortable with the exercise in different places.

Start in your own backyard and then move to a park, a store, or any other place where there’s distractions and potentially other dogs. Heeling is a great exercise for teaching your pup discipline and it’s also a great way to bond. So don’t forget to have fun with it and make sure to reward your pup for doing a good job!

Working with Stations

Working with stations is an important part of dog agility flatwork exercises. Stations help strengthen the connection between you and your dog, as well as increase focus and speed.

To get started, you can set up a few stations, like a jump or an obstacle, and practice with your dog going from one station to the next. As your dog gets better, you can add more and more stations, and increase the speed with which they move from one station to the next. With enough practice, you and your dog will be moving through stations like pros in no time!

To increase the difficulty, you can start to incorporate different commands and directions into your station work. This will allow you to challenge your dog’s obedience and agility skills in new ways, while still keeping the exercises fun and interesting.

You can also adjust the speed of the stations, which is great for both you and your dog. Working with stations will help you build up your dog’s agility skills and will be a great addition to your training routine.

Moving Between Containers

Moving between containers is a great foundational skill for agility training. It is essentially teaching your dog the skill of transitioning from one object to another. To start, set up two objects, such as a chair and a box, and have your pup move from one to the other.

You can initially reward when your pup just moves on the object, then progress to rewarding when your pup moves to the other object.

Once your pup is comfortable with the transition, you can increase the difficulty by adding more objects or creating more complex pathways. As your pup becomes more comfortable, you can also add verbal cues, such as ‘over’ or ‘through’, to really give your pup a chance to practice their agility skills. It is important to keep this exercise fun, so be sure to reward your pup with treats or toys.

As you progress, you can also add fun obstacles, such as hoops or tunnels, to keep your pup motivational and engaged.

With enough practice, your pup will be able to transition between objects with ease and will be well on their way to mastering agility training. Remember to take it slow and give your pup plenty of positive reinforcement. With patience and practice, you can help your pup develop their agility skills and have a great time doing it.


Jumps can be a great way to help your dog learn agility. To introduce jumps to your pup, start by having them jump over a low bar and then gradually increase the height. After they become comfortable with jumping, you can start to add different turns, like circles and spirals, to challenge them even more.

You can add multiple jumps to create a sequence that your pup must master.

When formalizing jump patterns for your pup, it is important to have a clear visualization of what you want them to do. This includes the order of the jumps and any turns that you would like them to make.

Once you have come up with the pattern, practice it with your pup several times until they have mastered it. If you’re having trouble getting your pup to understand the jump pattern that you have created, don’t be afraid to take a step back and break it down into smaller pieces. Each time your pup successfully completes a smaller piece, reward them with a treat and show them a lot of praise. With enough practice, they will eventually be able to complete the entire pattern.

Introducing Jumps

Introducing jumps to your agility training routine is essential for developing your pup’s coordination and agility skills. Start by placing the jump set on the ground, then practice leading your pup over the jumps while giving verbal cues. Encourage them to stay focused and use positive reinforcement like praise, treats, and toys to reward them for following your commands.

Once your pup is comfortable jumping over the bars, you can begin to up the difficulty level.

You can gradually increase the height of the jump set, or increase the distance between jumps for better control. Make sure your pup is comfortable with each new level before progressing to the next one. With consistent practice and patience, your pup will be navigating jumps like a pro in no time!

Formalizing the Jump Patterns

When it comes to formalizing jump patterns, it’s important to start with the basics. Begin by having your pup stand in one place and have them jump over low objects such as a low fence or an agility jump. Once your pup has mastered this, you can increase the difficulty by having them jump over higher objects, such as a bar or a set of poles.

To really challenge your pup, have them practice jumping from a running start, or jumping over a variety of objects in succession. Be sure to reward your pup for their successes.

Give them plenty of praise and treats to reinforce the behaviors you want them to continue.

Don’t forget to take it slow and keep the jumps low at first until your pup becomes comfortable with the new challenges. Remember to switch things up and offer your pup some variety. You can achieve this by changing the height of the jumps or having them complete the same series of jumps in different directions or sequences. Working on agility jumps is a great way to build your pup’s confidence and help them stay in shape!


Weaves are a key part of any successful dog agility course. They are a great way to practice precision and accuracy with your pup, and help them learn to focus on their handler and the task at hand. To get started with weaves, first introduce the concept to your pup by having them walk through a row of upright poles.

Once your pup understands the basics, you can begin to formalize the weave pattern by having them enter and exit the poles in a specific order. You can also introduce obstacles such as jumps or tunnels to challenge your pup’s mental agility.

Practicing weaves can be quite a challenge, but with a little bit of patience and consistency, you will be well on your way to mastering them.

Keep your sessions fun and engaging by rewarding your pup with treats and praise when they perform the weave correctly. Start off slow by having your pup practice with a single pole and gradually increase the number of poles. As you and your pup become more confident, you can set up more complicated patterns and sequences to really test their agility skills.

Introducing Weaves

Weaves are an essential part of dog agility. They require the dog to enter a set of poles and weave in and out of them until they reach the end. Training weaves is a great way to build your dog’s focus and balance, and can help you to build a strong bond with your pet.

To get started with weaves, start off by introducing your dog to your first set of poles. Place them far enough apart so that your dog can comfortably weave in and out without getting tangled.

You can use your hands to guide your dog and help them understand the pattern. As your dog gets more familiar with the weave, you can gradually increase the distance between the poles, making it more challenging.

You can also add reward markers to encourage your pup to keep going and keep their focus. With practice and dedication, your pup will be weaving in and out of the poles in no time.

Formalizing Weave Patterns

Formalizing weave patterns is an important step in building your dog’s agility skills. As with all dog agility activities, the key is to start with the basics and build up gradually. Before attempting weave patterns, practice having your dog move between and around objects as if they were weave poles.

Once your pup has a solid understanding of the concept of weaving, you can begin introducing weave patterns.

Start by placing two weave poles close together and guide your dog through them while giving the correct verbal cues. As your pup’s proficiency increases, you can add additional poles and increase the size of the space in between. Be sure to keep the sessions short, positive and rewarding to ensure success.


Tunnels are an enjoyable and challenging agility exercise for dogs. They provide an opportunity to practice speed, accuracy and coordination.

When introducing tunnels to your dog, use a tunnel that is the right size. Start by walking your dog through the tunnel and rewarding him with a treat. Increase the speed as your dog gets comfortable.

Formalizing the tunnel pattern can help you and your dog practice more advanced agility maneuvers.

Start by teaching your dog to turn right and left, and then to run in a straight line. Introduce obstacles as needed and practice different sequences. As your dog gets comfortable with the pattern, gradually increase the speed and accuracy. Encourage your dog with praise, and provide treats when he succeeds.

Introducing Tunnels

Tunnels are one of the most fun exercises in dog agility. They provide an excellent opportunity for your pup to build confidence and refine their speed and agility. Introducing your dog to tunnels can be done in a variety of ways.

Start by setting the tunnel up in an area with no distractions, gently encouraging your pup to enter the tunnel with treats and positive reinforcement.

As your pup gets more comfortable and confident with the tunnel, you can move it to a busier area, like an agility course. This will help your pup get used to navigating busy spaces.

When introducing your pup to tunnels, it’s important to make sure they understand the importance of staying low. Dogs should learn to enter the tunnel with their body parallel to the ground, without dragging their feet or bumping the sides. You can help them by guiding them through the tunnel with treats and verbal cues, as well as setting up a few gates along the way.

It’s also important to make sure your pup understands to stay in the tunnel until they reach the end. To help them understand this concept, you can set up a few cones at the end of the tunnel and reward them with a treat when they reach the end.

As your pup gets better at navigating tunnels, you can start teaching them formal tunnel patterns, such as crisscross, figure 8, and serpentine. With some patience and positive reinforcement, your pup will be zipping through tunnels in no time!

Formalizing the Tunnel Patterns

When formalizing tunnel patterns, it’s important to gradually increase the difficulty. Start by teaching your dog to run through a tunnel from one end to the other.

Once they’ve mastered that, you can increase the difficulty by teaching them to run through a series of tunnels. You can also get creative with the tunnel patterns, with exercises such as running through tunnels in a figure-8, turning in the middle of the tunnel, and weaving between two tunnels.

Make sure to reward your pup for every success, as this will reinforce the behavior and help them learn faster. You can also vary your rewards, as this will keep your pup excited and motivated. Don’t forget to practice often – consistency is key when it comes to agility training!


Contacts are a great way to test your agility dog’s ability to respond in a timely manner. Start off by teaching your dog an easy contact behavior, like “touch,” and work up from there. Once your dog has the basic concept down, you can move onto more complex behaviors like “Sit” and “Down” on the contact obstacle.

Training your dog to go around the contact obstacle in a specific direction is also a great way to add difficulty and help them prepare for more complex courses.

Make sure you reward your dog for a job well done on the contact obstacle. A toy, treat, or verbal praise are all great ways to reinforce the behavior.

Teaching your dog to pause at the obstacle and wait for your signal before continuing can also be a useful training tool. Contacts are a great way to help your agility dog learn how to respond quickly and accurately to obstacles. With patience and positive reinforcement, you can help your dog master this important agility skill.

Introducing Contacts

Contacts are a great way to add an extra layer of difficulty and challenge to your dog’s agility routine. To introduce contacts, start with a flat jump and a low platform or mat beneath it. The goal is to teach your dog to land on the platform or mat.

Start by having your dog jump over the bar and land on the platform.

Reward them with a treat and a lot of praise! As they get the hang of it you can increase the height of the bar and decrease the size of the platform to make it more challenging. Once your dog is comfortable with the basics, you can start to add more challenging elements to your contact routine, such as different angles and elevated platforms.

Give your pup lots of time to practice and reward them for each success. With patience and positive reinforcement, your pup will soon be tackling more complex contact obstacles with confidence.

Formalizing the Contact Patterns

Formalizing the contact pattern is essential for any serious dog agility handler. To do this, start by teaching your dog the basics: a solid stay and recall.

Once these are mastered, you can start adding in the contact obstacles. Start with sending your dog over the A-frame, then the dog-walk, then the teeter, then the seesaw.

Be sure to take your time and make sure your pooch is comfortable with each obstacle before you move on. As the obstacles become more difficult, use verbal cues and rewards to help your dog get up the courage to complete them successfully.

This way, they will become more confident and learn faster. Once your dog is confident with the contact obstacles, you can start to add more difficult patterns, such as serpentines and figure eights. Make sure to break down each pattern into small, manageable chunks and reward your pup for each step they complete.

You can fine-tune your dog’s contact skills by adding distractions.

This could include introducing new people or other dogs. This will help your pup learn to stay focused, even in a chaotic environment. With patience, your pup will eventually become a master of the contact obstacles.

Megan Turner

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