All About Agility

Dog agility is, fundamentally, a dog handler and a dog working together to complete an obstacle course quickly and correctly.  Its popularity is growing rapidly around the world.  There are three major organizations involved in dog agility in the United States, and each offers guidelines for different styles of agility.  They are the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), American Kennel Club (AKC) and North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC).  Last weekend, the first ever Westminister Master’s Agility Championship was held.  A 7-year-old border collie named Kelso will go down in the record books as its first champion!

agility_a-frameAn agility competition is called an agility trial, and each one typically offers varying levels of competition.  Beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of competition are usually available for different sizes of dogs, but the specific names of those levels and size specifications vary depending on which organization is linked to the event.  Different categories of courses and obstacles exist as well.

Who can do dog agility?  Anyone!  Some organizations even exist strictly “just for fun” with no competitive component at all.  While certain breeds do excel at agility, there are no real restrictions on who can participate.  It’s a great hobby for dog owners and their four-legged friends!

You may be wondering what kinds of obstacles you would see on an agility course.  Each course is different.  However, the main classifications of obstacles include contact obstacles, tunnels and jumps.  Other obstacles may include weave poles, hoop obstacles, or a pause table or pause box.  Each obstacle has very detailed specifications on it’s dimensions and size.

Contact obstacles have contact zones.  At least one of the dog’s paws must make contact with the contact zone in order for the obstacle to be completed correctly.  Contact obstacles typically include an arrangement of ramps.  Examples include an A-frame (an upside down “V” using two ramps), a see-saw and a dog walk (two ramps coming down from opposite ends of a flat platform).

Tunnels and jumps are fairly self-explanatory.  Weave poles are a series of vertical poles in a line that the dogs must “weave” in and out of.  Hoop obstacles typically consist of a hoop that the dogs jump through in the air.  A pause table is a table or platform where the dog pauses for a specified amount of time during the course.

To train a dog to participate in agility, special knowledge of the obstacles and the rules of whichever style of agility you are interested in is necessary.  However, the basics of training a dog are always the same.  At Bed and Biscuit Austin, we can help you understand the fundamentals of training your dog and prepare you for almost any type of training you wish to pursue!


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