Agility is a fun and exciting canine sport either as a spectator or a participant. It’s a great way to exercise your dog and yourself while developing team work and bonding. A good way to introduce yourself to the sport is to attend an agility trial to watch exhibitors at all different levels, compete and maneuver through a course, or there are also opportunities to watch dog agility on TV. Westminister Kennel Club televises their agility competition which is held during the same time frame as their conformation competition.
As with any sport it is necessary to learn the rules, train, and practice, practice, practice. While training, the handler is able to use food and/ or toys in addition to verbal and other physical cues as an incentive for accuracy and speed. A basic knowledge of obedience is also necessary before starting agility. Training is available in most cities through clubs or canine training centers. Ability in this sport is gained through practicing at home as well as through formal classes. Home training equipment can be purchased or by building it yourself.
Obstacles include but are not limited to:
- Jumps, single, double, triple, broad jump, and tire jump Weaves poles
- Dog Walk
- Pause table
In competition the handler directs her (his) dog while off-leash through a timed course by using cues which can be verbal, hand signals and body movements, but do not include food or toys. In addition at no time is a handler allowed to touch their dog or any obstacles, with accuracy and speed being equally important.
To compete in AKC agility a dog must be at least 15 months or older and have either an ACK registration number or ILP number. Both
spayed and neutered dogs are able to compete. It is always a good idea to have your dog checked by a veterinarian before starting any dog sport.
There are three levels of competition, Novice, Open, and Excellent and a team must earn a title in each before moving to the next level. Each level has requirements in a course which include number of obstacles, number of faults while completing a course within the allowed time.
There are two main types of courses in AKC agility, Standard and JWW – jumps with weaves.
For more information go to akc.org and in the search box put ‘Agility rules.’ The ‘Beginners Guide to Agility’ is a good place to start as it explains basic rules of the sport. For a more in-depth understanding of the sport see ‘Agility Rules and Regulations.’
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