Today, dogs are most often kept as companion pets, but these pets can also learn to participate in sports with their owners. Dog agility is a dog sport that involves the dog and the owner, or handler. The handler helps train the dog and gives hand signals or commands which tell the dog where to run through the dog agility obstacle course. The dog is judged on its speed and accuracy on or around the obstacles.
Each competition course is set up differently and may contain different obstacles. Before running the course, the handler is allowed to walk through the course with their dog to assess the obstacles and running path. Often course maps are also made available ahead of the competition. Some common obstacles include: the A-frame, two ramps that meet in a peak with slats for the dog to climb up and over, the teeter-totter, similar to ones at a children’s park, a variety of tunnels, common ones are made of a vinyl tube or a collapsed tunnel made of fabric with one barrel-end. There are also obstacles which the dog must jump over or weave though. For some obstacles, such as the pause box or table, the dog is required to get on it and perform a behavior, such as “sit” or “down.”
Just like humans, dogs must practice and train to be successful at a sport. Every dog is different when it comes to learning and training on obstacles. Some dogs take to the obstacles easily and some may be wary, but with patience and training, able-bodied dogs can master all the obstacles required for a competition. Not only is agility training an excellent workout for dogs, it’s also a great bonding activity for dogs and their owners
Please see the following links for more information about dog agility competitions, training, rules, and more:
- Agility Events – This site provides an online calendar and schedule of dog agility events.
- Ten Tips for Dog Agility Training – Animal Planet’s lists tips for beginners in the sport of dog agility and recommends certain types of dogs in the sport.
- The Sport of Agility – The Dog Owner’s Guide describes dog agility and how to begin training for courses and also lists some precautions.
- United States Dog Agility Association – The USDAA promotes agility training among all breeds of dogs including mixed breed. Their site contains information on agility rules and regulations, awards, and upcoming events.
- Dog Agility FAQ – The Dog-On-It Agility Club of Central Florida has written this FAQ on dog agility and dog agility courses.
- First Agility Show – The Agility Addicts Guide describes everything needed for your dog’s first agility show.
- Build Your Own Agility Course – Learn to train your dog in your own backyard with these DIY instructions for wave poles, a tire jump, a standard jump, teeter board, pause table, and tunnel.
- Playing By the Rules – Dog agility sporting events have strict rules. This webpage also defines agility scoring.
- Dog Agility Then & Now – Dog agility as a sport began in the early 1970s. This page tells how the different agility organizations came into existence.
- History of Agility – Clean Run, a magazine for dog agility enthusiasts, provides a very comprehensive history of agility in three parts.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility – This page by 3 Lost Dogs gives an overview of agility and why it’s a great activity for dogs.
- Training Tips for Handlers – An excellent list of training information from AgilityNet.
- Dog Tricks and Agility for Dummies – This cheat sheet provides tips for motivating your dog, teaching tricks with or without a clicker, and more agility related training.
- Training Your Dog – The ASPCA discusses basic dog training and how to train dogs new skills like dog agility.
- Dog Agility for Beginners – This guide from Exceptional Canine describes which dogs are best suited for agility, basic requirements for dog agility, and how to work on agility at home.
- Tips for Agility – Heather and Robin from the Deaf Dog Education Fund give their tips for hand signals for deaf dogs in agility.
- Just For Fun Agility Equipment – This page has pictures and descriptions of common competition and practice equipment for dog agility.
- Agilitynet – Agilitynet has news, club listing, events, workshops, and everything needed to get started in dog agility.
- Bad Dog Agility Visual Dictionary – Bad Dog Agililty has compiled this visual dictionary with definitions and videos of common dog agility terms and maneuvers.
- Agility Tips from Experienced Competitors – Members of CleanRun-L, an online agility list, have provided their best tips for being successful in dog agility competitions.
- NADAC Titles and Awards – The North American Dog Agility Council’s titles and awards page lets participants in dog agility competitions look up points earned for dogs and look up titles and certificates.
- AKC Agility Resource Center – The American Kennel Club has guidelines for getting started in agility, agility statistics, jump height cards, advice for junior handlers, online entry, and regulations and forms for competitions.
- Dog Agility Quiz – Now that you’ve learned about dog agility competitions, take this quiz to test your knowledge.