Agility is a fun team sport where you direct your dog through a specific sequence of various obstacles. This is an active sport for both human and canine, but also a sport that tests your strategy and course analysis as well.
Agility is like a fast paced dance between human and dog, you will learn footwork and handling that aids in directing the dog through the course. Some dogs travel through the obstacle courses at over 7 yards per second, this can give you quite the adrenaline rush trying to navigate the course correctly. If something on the course does not go to plan, you need to be able to make a split second decision to stay on course!
Which dogs are best for agility? Although you can play with any breed or mix of breeds, energetic dogs who enjoy training tend to enjoy agility the most. You should be mindful if your dog is in good physical health before deciding to play agility. It may be wise to find a different sport if your dog is overweight, has hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, or poor structure in general as they will be more prone to injury.
More challenging than you may think!
Teaching your dog the obstacles is often the easiest part of agility. The human is often the weakest link in the team. It takes time to: learn proper footwork and handling, timing, maintaining connection/eye contact with the dog throughout the course (and not running into the obstacles in the process), memorizing the courses, and analyzing the best handling options.
Benefits? Most dogs LOVE agility. For the active dog, nothing is better than being able to race your human through a course and run through, over and on a variety of obstacles in the process. In addition to being a fun way to build your relationship with your dog, it provides both mental and physical enrichment to your dog's life. You also work on your communication skills with your dog, off-leash control and impulse control!
How do you get started? If you know that you want to compete in agility, it would be best to find a training center that specializes in competition agility. If you are undecided or not planning on ever competing, there are usually options to do agility for fun that are more beginner friendly. These training classes may have a smaller space, may not have all the agility obstacles, and will often only work on basic handling maneuvers.
Competing: There are a variety of organizations that host agility competitions. Some of which are: AKC, CPE, USDAA, UKI, and NADAC. Each of these organizations will have specific courses and games you can play during the competition weekend. Some organizations even have options where you can submit a video of your dog completing a designated course (if you have access to the obstacles and a big enough space).
There are typically 14-20 obstacles you must direct your dog through on any given competition agility course. Any breed/mix can compete in agility. You will be competing against dogs in your level and height class. The fastest dog that completes the course correctly will get 1st place. However, to earn Titles, which allow you to move to higher levels within the sport, you need to collect Q's (qualifying runs). You do not need to be the fastest to have a qualifying run.
There are a variety of obstacles the dog may need to learn:
Seesaw (Teeter Totter)*
Variety of different Jumps
*Contact Obstacles- These obstacles have a yellow section at the bottom that the dog must touch to complete the obstacle.
Register here for our Taste of Agility classes!