What is Dog Agility... and why do we love it so much?

We LOVE LOVE LOVE this dog sport! Agility is one part obedience, one part relationship, and one part sheer adrenaline rush! The relationship between dog and handler, the feeling of accomplishment when the team learns a new skill, the fun of running and jumping, the camaraderie between handlers, the challenge of beating the course- it’s all good!

Agility is a sport that at its essence is an obstacle course for dogs. Dogs are trained to go over jumps, through tunnels, walk on ramps (dog walk and A-frame) zig zag through poles (weave poles) and do it all in the order that his or her handler indicates.

Not everyone who does agility wants to compete in trials, and that's quite all right! Agility is a great way to bond with your dog, get some exercise, meet new people and have a good time with your dog! Many people take part in agility classes every week, just for the fun of it, and not to train for competition.

How to get started in Agility

Agility is a fun canine sport that can greatly strengthen the bond between you and your canine companion.

However, to reduce the risk of injury and increase your chances of success, please keep the following tips in mind:

Before starting any agility class:

- You and your dog should take at least one basic obedience class which teaches skills including:

sit, down, come and stay (all with distractions).

- You and your dog should both be in good physical health; remember, this is a sport!

- You should come out to watch some trials and talk to competitors.

Starting in Agility:

- Visit your local training centers and choose the place that fits both you and your dogs needs. Look for a place that focuses on positive reinforcement training … you want your dog to think this is fun too!

- Consider taking a pre-agility or agility focus class. These classes will introduce you to agility equipment while focusing on the obedience skills required to make you and your canine a “team”.

- Don’t rush … Agility is fun and can quickly become addicting, but for your own good, don’t rush into the ring!

Come SEE the fun!

But please be a Courteous Spectator:

Agility is a great spectator sport, but please keep these tips in mind when visiting a trial:

- Don't pet or feed a dog without asking the owner's permission. Most agility dogs love people, but their handlers may want them to be concentrating just before going into the ring.

- Leave your dog at home. Agility trials are very stimulating atmospheres and most dogs are overwhelmed by it. You will enjoy it much more if you can sit and watch rather than having to concentrate on your dog.

- Feel free to talk to competitors. As a rule, agility people love to talk about the sport and answer questions about their dogs. But keep in mind that asking question while a competitor is entering or exiting the ring is probably not the best time.

- No food or toys are allowed within 10 feet of the ring (marked by tape on the ground). Also keep small children away from the ring as they may distract the dogs. Try not to stand around the entrances and exits to the rings. These can become very congested areas.

For More Information on Dog Agility:

National Organizations:

North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC)- www.nadac.com

Canine Performance Events (CPE)- www.k9cpe.com

American Kennel Club (AKC)- www.akc.org

United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA)- www.usdaa.com

Teacup Dog Agility Association (TDAA)- http://tdaanews.wordpress.com/