It all began in the UK, not so very long ago and was fashioned after horse show jumping. Agility made its debut as a demonstration in 1978. Today, agility remains the fastest growing dog sport. It is a sport that finds the dog and handler leaving the agility course celebrating, whether they have a clear round or not. It is also very popular among the spectators. The action is fast and always entertaining whether the dog does as the handler asks or not. It's fun for everyone! Agility courses are created with obstacles that the dog must perform correctly. The judge predetermines the direction and flow that each obstacle must be taken and the handler directs the dog, off lead, through the course. The handler may cheer, clap and call the dog through each obstacle, as it best serves them, but they must never touch the dog. There are jumps of various type. Climbing obstacles known as the contact equipment, weave poles and tunnels. Each course is timed and the dog that finishes with the fewest course faults and the fastest time wins.


Jumps can include hurdles, spread jumps and a long jump. A tyre can also be found amongst the jumps on the course. There are other specialised jumps such as water jump, brush jump and a wishing well, which may also be seen on an agility course, depending upon the class.


The climbing obstacles are known as the contact obstacles. They include the dog walk, A-frame and see-saw. The dogs negotiate each obstacle by climbing over them and they must touch the different coloured contact areas at the end of each one. This is for safety reasons to make the handler stop the dog jumping off.


Weave poles are a series of upright poles that the dog weaves in and out, between them all. Dogs must enter with the first pole at their left shoulder and then proceed down the line of poles until there are no more. The number of poles can vary. This obstacle usually takes the longest to train.


ANY dog can enjoy agility providing it is fit and healthy. Competitions cater for all sizes of dogs from "smalls" such as the jack russell and chihuahua right up to the large breeds. Jumps and equipment are set at different heights for the different sizes of dogs.


Of course, not everyone aspires to competing and there is no reason why you cannot attend weekly training lessons with your dog, just for the fun of it. It's a great way of building up a good relationship with your pet and keeping you both fit. Indeed it can give assistance to some canine problems by helpiing build confidence in a nervous dog.


If you think you would like to have a go at agility with your dog, feel free to contact me for a chat.