Agility is a fun sport for any size dog, with various levels of challenge. The dog must overcome obstacles as directed by the handler, so this training is excellent for improving communication skills and trust in the dog team. Jumps, tunnels, walks, weave poles, and other obstacles are usually included in agility courses, but minor combinations (like Jumps & Weaves) are also used for specific titles. Speed as well as accuracy define the well-run agility course. Points are deducted for taking an obstacle out of order, jumping off contact obstacles like the A-Frame or teeter-totter too soon, or knocking down a bar on a jump.
The equipment for practicing agility can be expensive if purchased retail but building from lumber and PVC pipes is an affordable option for hobbyists. If you intend to compete, it is CRITICAL to train your dog on standard-sized equipment. Practicing on certain height jumps, surfaces, and angles, creates muscle memory. Injuries occur when dogs encounter unexpected features at high speeds.
Attach yourself to an organization, acquire a mentor, and learn the equipment standards before buying or building your own. Agility equipment can be dangerous if used improperly. Because repetitive jumping can be hard on growth plates, causing early joint problems, dogs should not be given jumps higher than their knees before they are full-grown, usually 18-24 months. Earlier training can begin with less strenuous equipment.
There are a number of organizations offering agility trials and titles. Which you choose will depend on your goals and limitations.
AKC Agility is well-recognized and has frequent trials, mostly purebred membership but registered mixed breeds can compete
USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association, Inc.) is friendly to mixed-breeds. It has slightly more difficult (narrower, higher) obstacles than AKC or CPE.
UKC Agility has lower jump heights, smaller courses, and less stringent time constraints than other organizations. Events are a little harder to find than other organizations.
NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council) is mixed-breed friendly, and courses are focused on dog safety and longevity, with fewer obstacles, lower jump heights, and 18-month age requirement.
ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) has its own Agility standards, because Aussies are that cool. Other breeds are welcome, however, and the courses are similar to NADAC. Sizable Nor Cal following.
Example on Youtube of an exceptional handler directing her dog through a course from a distance Amanda & Border Collie "Try"
Canadian trainer Susan Garret has great video and book resource for agility newbies and pros alike. Here is one of her dogs' runs on Youtube
Shasta Dogs hosts beginning agility classes. Contact us for dates.
Emily Gaydos teaches Agility foundations in Siskiyou County http://www.clickercoachdogtraining.com/
The Western Agility Group (WAG) in Elk Grove is involved in CPE, AKC, and NADAC agility
The information above is provided as a public service. Shasta Dogs does not receive financial benefit in exchange for advertising any service or product on this page.