Dog Agility

If you and your furry friend have plenty of energy and want a hobby you can do together, why not try dog agility?

In this competitive sport owners, called handlers, verbally guide their dogs through a timed obstacle course. Scores are awarded based on time, obedience and style. The obstacles in a dog agility course vary from competition to competition, but generally include tunnels, hurdles, see-saws and ramps.

If this sound a lot like an equestrian sport, that’s because it is. The first dog agility competition happened in the UK in 1970, and was modelled after the popular British sport of show jumping. The sport crossed to North America in 1986.

Both you and your dog can benefit from dog agility training.

The key is to run the course really fast, so it’s great exercise for your dog (and for you too). Spending time together is always your pet’s favourite pastime and working on your dog’s training can result in a more bonded relationship. It’s also an opportunity for you to meet other owners who share your interest in dogs.

Dog agility training is not as time consuming as raising a show dog. Different associations have different classifications for hobbyists, competitors and professional competitors. If you’re interested in dog agility as a hobby there’s no need for it to take over your life.

Each association has it’s own rules, judging requirements and entry specifications, but there are some general guidelines for anyone interested in taking part:

  • Younger animals are easier to train. Puppies under one year should avoid high jumps to protect their growing bodies. The British Agility Association sets its minimum age at 18 months.
  • Most trials are classified by height and weight and some by breed. Mixed breeds are welcome in most associations.
  • Handlers direct their dogs around a numbered course using only voice and hand signals. If your dog has a hard time following simple commands like sit or heel you might want to stick to fetch.
  • As a responsible owner, your pup’s vaccinations are probably up to date. To compete or be part of a club you will need to show proof of vaccination.

If dog agility interests you find a local club in your area and ask when their next competition is scheduled. Dog agility is quickly becoming a world wide spectator sport and you may find watching just as much fun as participating.

Image supplied by ian-b, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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Proud owner of two Miniature Schnauzers (Archie and Lola), and a Giant Schnauzer (Milo). Favourite Dog Trick: Turn. Enjoys Southern Comfort.
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