It is a sport open to both purebred and multi-breed dogs. A dog competing in this discipline must overcome a special agility course in the fastest possible time and as flawlessly as possible. The handler leads it through the obstacles using voice commands, gestures or body movements. It is a sport which can be practised by almost every owner with their dog, provided that there are no health contraindications.
What are the rules of agility
The rules are simple.The track consists of various types of obstacles which must be overcome together flawlessly.Your dog, when completing the agility course, must:
- run through a dark, curved agility tunnel,
- jump over obstacles,
- run in the slalom,
- test his balance on the balance beam,
- slide down a ramp.
Such a track can be set up indoors or outdoors.It is quite big (from 10 to 20 obstacles).During the course, the dog must change direction at least twice, overcoming obstacles in a specific order.When the dog is running along the track, you run alongside the dog to keep cheering it on.
Seems very complicated?
Not if you start your first training sessions with your dog early enough.
Which dogs can train in agility?
Let me start by saying that it is a discipline that, thanks to its open rules, allows almost any dog to take part in it.
Firstly, it is divided into three height classes, so you can easily classify yourself in one of them.
- Small – is a class in which small breed dogs compete – up to 35 cm at the withers (for example Yorkshire Terrier).
- Medium – medium dogs – 35-43 cm (for example Cocker Spaniel).
- Large – large dogs – over 43cm (for example Labrador).
The division also occurs according to the level of the dog’s grade and ability.
- Class 0 is an unofficial, training class.
- Class A1.
- Class A2.
- Class A3 is dedicated to dogs that do agility competitively.
- There is also an OPEN class.
With so much freedom, this discipline can be practised by both professionals and amateurs.Those who seriously engage in this sport usually start with Border Collie dogs.These animals, due to their physical and mental predispositions, achieve the best results in this sport and take leading places in professional agility competitions all over the world.For those who cannot take up this sport competitively, it is possible to do it as an amateur.They can also realise themselves in it in a much-limited range.
Agility how to start training?
You too can get started with this sport, simply treating it as great fun for you and your dog.There is only one rule – no compulsion and no aggression.
So where do you start?
- Check whether you both have any health contraindications for this type of sport.
- Know that jumping is not recommended for dogs with hip dysplasia.
- If you have a puppy or a young dog, start training it according to its abilities.
- The skeleton of such a puppy is not yet fully ossified.It consists of cartilage, which is very sensitive to various types of load.Overloading a young dog may cause bones to twist and injuries to appear, which will be difficult to heal later.Also with mature dogs, you must pay attention to your pet’s condition.
If you can see that your dog enjoys this type of play, there is nothing to stop you from spending your free time with him in this way.
Start by training your dog in basic obedience.When overcoming obstacles on the agility course, your dog must know basic commands.It simply has to listen to you.For a dog to try its hand at agility, it should be able to:
- come on command,
- stand (lie down),
- walk without a leash.
Therefore, start working with the puppy from the first days of its stay in your home – of course, initially only in the form of play.If you want to start such an adventure with an older dog, there are no contraindications either.
Anyway, basic obedience training will be useful not only in sports but also in everyday life. There is only one rule – don’t force your dog to do anything.Work on his obedience only based on positive reinforcement.
Since in agility the dog has to overcome all sorts of obstacles, the main rule is not to be afraid of them.Therefore, the process of properly socialising your pet is paramount.Familiarise your dog with different surfaces and heights.Get him used to many different objects.Play with him while discovering new secrets of the sport.Know that if you have an aggressive dog, you will not be able to participate with him anywhere.This is another very important part of the socialisation process.
Aggression or fear of crowds or other dogs will disqualify you from participating