A central Ohio facility for dog agility training is geared towards children with special needs. Already trained teams of Agility Dogs and their handlers work with special needs children to help get them to interact with the world around them. Agility Ability teaches children how to verbalize commands to the dog, so they can direct the dog through the course. This exercise works on physical and cognitive abilities in the children, as well as confidence. Games, designed by the special education teacher, help the children and dogs work together. For some kids the biggest thing they need to work on is eye contact. In Agility work you have to have eye contact with your dog to tell them where to go next and what they need to do once they get there. Autistic children are more willing to make prolonged eye contact with the dogs that they are working with then with people and after several sessions they can begin to make eye contact with those around them including parents, teachers, and other caregivers.
For children with Down’s Syndrome the child can make an immediate connection between language and action; they see that the commands made the dogs jump, run, or weave. Plus they tend to use more words more often and more consistently than usual when they are woran immediate connection between language and action; he saw that his commands made the dogs jump, run, or weave. When Jack was on the course, he used more words more often and more consistently than usual. kign the dogs through the Agility Course.
The program has been very successful so far helping children to Move with purpose, Gain confidence in themselves, Gain confidence around dogs, and Speak clearly and confidently to the dog. The already trained dogs help the children to accomplish something that they can be proud of at Agility Ability.