Want a great way to build teamwork with your dog? Dog Agility has been a fast-growing dog sport all over the world. It is a chance for humans (handlers) and their dogs to navigate an obstacle course for speed and accuracy.
Agility events are called trials. Trials with rings occur almost anywhere. Horse arenas, fields, and matted warehouses can be venues for trials. At the trial, dogs run off leash without food or toy incentives. The handlers cannot touch their dog or an obstacle. Handlers may use their voice and body movement to guide their dog around the course.
A course is determined by a judge’s design. Obstacles must be completed in sequence and are marked in numerical order. The number of obstacles and difficulty of the challenges depends on the level the team is running. Obstacles may consist of jumps, weave poles, Tire, A-frame, teeter, dog walk, tunnel, and a platform or table.
Printed course maps are given out at the beginning of the trial. Handlers are allowed a short walk through before their team runs. A judge stands in the ring as the team runs and determines faults or disqualifications. Dogs can earn awards and titles from various organizations like AKC (American Kennel Club), USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association), NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council) are just a few of the organizations that sponsor dog agility trials.
Here's a link to the AKC Agility information.
Challenges for the Dog
Dog is running, jumping, climbing and making quick turns most of the time on course. Dog must be willing to rely on handler and follow signals.
Challenges for the Handler
Handler is also usually running most of the course, with quick turns. Handler must remember the course (obstacles are numbered). Handler must be aware of dog's need for support.
For a first-time agility handler, training is likely to take a year or longer to be ready for competition.