something back into the sport
Mike Bacon became a full time instructor, it very quickly became clear that the demand for
agility classes meant he would need some assistants. That's when he discovered there was a
shortage of experience instructors. He started asking likely people if they would like to join
him teaching. The immediate response was, 'I couldnít do that.' But that is just what most
Agility Instructors thought before they started instructing. Mike's conversations then went
more or less along these lines.
Why do we need more instructors?
Agility is growing
all the time. There are more and more clubs that need a pool of instructors to allow their
instructors to train their own dogs and to provide cover for holidays and sickness etc. There
have even been adverts on Agilitynet in the last year for clubs desperately needing
Why should I do it?
There is real
satisfaction in helping people to train their dogs. Just seeing handlers and dogs develop is
a great feeling. When you have enough experience you could join the growing number of private
instructors who charge for their services and even turn professional.
What experience would I need?
successfully trained at least one dog or more would be ideal. That doesn't mean that you have
competed at the highest level, but you should have been able to get the best out of a dog
that it could possibly achieve. Some previous teaching experience and presentation skills are
a great help.
would I start?
A really good way
is by assisting someone who is already instructing. You might spend a lot of time moving
poles up and down, but you will learn a lot. You may find it is not for you but at least you
will know. Many clubs will help with new instructors and have extra classes just for
instructors. Just make sure they have suitable insurance cover.
What other sort of training can I get?
There are also
private individuals and organisations that run courses for people who want to become dog
training instructors, and a few specialising in agility. Kim Hunt runs instructor courses in
the Midlands and I will be running them from 2009 in North Somerset.
The Agility Club
run an Instructors Course each year in the Autumn. It is an intensive 3.5 day course with an
exam at the end. The courses are very well supported, and you need to get your name on the
waiting list as soon as you can. All the details are posted and updated on Agilitynet.com.
This all sounds expensive. How can I afford it?
Some clubs give assistance to people who have shown commitment to the club, and you should look
at it as skills investment.
donít think I have enough experience of basic dog training so where can I get it?
If you have
trained a dog to a competitive level, you have a good basic knowledge, but if you want to
learn more, there are organisations like The Association of Pet Dog Trainers. You can join as
subscriber and get access to a wide range of workshops, seminars and courses. And the Kennel
Club Accredited Instructors scheme provides an excellent framework to work from.
about getting more advanced agility knowledge?
There are lots of
workshops and courses get on as many as you can, and there is a huge amount of information on
How do I which method to use?
They all have
advantages and disadvantages, and may suit different dogs and handlers in different
situations. Look at all the training ideas and methods you can. Analyse them, try them out
and decide which are suitable for you and your students.
How did you start teaching agility?
instructing at pet and obedience classes and then went on some agility courses. My first
instructors course was with John Gilbert and Peter Lewis, it was a few years ago. I also did
instructors courses with Louis Harris, Steve Croxford and the Agility Club and lots of
competition training workshops with my own dogs.
When do I start?
No time like the
Mike Bacon has been a dog training instructor
specialising in Agility for over 20 years. With Jack of Diamonds his Tervueren (Belgian
Shepherd Dog), he came 6th in the FMBB Individual Agility World Championships in
Spain 2004 and was a member of the winning team in Germany 2005. He has been appointed as the
Team Manager of the Great Britain Agility squad for the FMBB World Championship from 2006 until
has competed successfully in Obedience, and Working Trials as well as Agility but he is quite
happy teaching people who just want to have some fun with their dogs. He is an Agility Club
Approved Instructor (ACAI) and Member of the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor Scheme (KCAI)
currently has two young dogs in training - a BSD (Jet), and a Parson Russell Terrier (Rusty).
He is helping his daughter Claire train her Border Collie (Ty) and her BSD Ember. They also
have two retired dogs - a Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tip) and a Working Sheepdog (Dash).
details can be found at
www.diamond-dog-training.co.uk or you can contact Mike on tel. 01934 833525. mobile: 07867
822425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org