Dog Agility is cooperative effort between dog and handler. The handler directs the dog through a series of obstacles. The dog must climb, crawl and jump. The handler is not allowed to touch the dog or the equipment.


Benny, Rough Collie, owned by Gary and Heidi Webster
What: Agility
Description: Obstacle course (speed and accuracy)
Training: Need to take classes
Time until ready: 6 months to 1 year
Age to start: Can start foundations at any age but repetitive jumping and other activities require the growth plates to be closed. (See your vet)

Each of the obstacles is standardized and has performance criteria. However, the order and number of obstacles changes. But don’t worry! The obstacles are numbered in order and you get a chance to figure out where you are going before your turn. There is a speed component so your dog needs to be confident on each piece of equipment.

This is a great sport for people looking to increase the bond with their dogs. It lends itself to Positive Reinforcement training since the dogs need to be happy and enthusiastic in order to succeed. Dogs that are overly worried about corrections, and have been trained this way, can still successfully navigate the course but may run into time penalties.

To get started, I would suggest you attend an agility trial in your area. They are typically free to watch, with a few exceptions. There you will see what it is all about and be able to talk with competitors. Then you can locate an instructor to help you get started.

“But I don’t want to compete with my dog” you say! No problem. You can attend classes, fun matches and demonstrations. Fun matches are where you and your dog can “perform” as if you were at a competition but there are no ribbons, no scoring and no placements. It’s just for fun and training.

In North America, there are several organizations that sanction Agility Trials. Each has a different set of rules and equipment standards. You can check out their websites to determine which one has the most trials in your area.

4-H Head, Heart, Hands, Health School aged children and their dogs
AAC Agility Association of Canada All-breed
AKC American Kennel Club All-breed
ASCA Australian Shepherd Club of America All-breed
CHU Canines and Humans United All-breed
CKC Canadian Kennel Club All-breed
CPE Canine Performance Events All-breed
DOCNA Dogs on Course in North America All-breed
NADAC North American Dog Agility Council All-breed
TDAA Teacup Dogs Agility Association Smaller Breeds
UKC United Kennel Club All-breed
UKI UK Agility International All-breed
USDAA United States Dog Agility Association All-breed

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