Agility is an exciting sport that demonstrates the ability of a dog and it’s handler to work as a smoothly functioning team. The dog is directed by its handler to successfully negotiate an obstacle course and requires close teamwork between the two. It tests a person’s skills in training and handling a dog over a timed obstacle course. These obstacles can include jumps, an A-frame, tunnels, chute, dog walk, teeter and weave poles, all put together to make the competition fun and challenging. The main elements of the sport are good sportsmanship and it should be fun for the dog and handler.
You can start your puppy right away by teaching basic obedience commands like sit, down, wait and stay. This will help greatly in their agility future, as a good wait on the start line can make or break a successful run. Other skills like focus and side switches can also make a big difference down the road. Familiarization of the different obstacles can also start early, as long as you are in a safe environment, with experienced trainers. A bad scare can really set your puppy’s progress back. Young dogs should avoid stress on their joints until they are old enough that their growth plates have set; so jumping and weaves should come a little later.
Most agility organizations require dogs be 18 months of age before completing and require a dog ID number, which can be obtained from the organization.
We believe that agility must at all time be a positive learning experience for you and your dog. There’s no room for harsh or negative training in agility!
There are several associations that promote the sport of agility and each has their own rules, eligibility and titles. Some of these include:
AAC – Agility Association of Canada www.aac.ca
CKC – Canadian Kennel Club www.ckc.ca
NADAC – North American Dog Agility Council www.nadac.com
USDAA – United States Dog Agility Association www.usdaa.com
DOCNA – Dogs On Course in North America www.docna.com