Dog agility is a sport in which a person, referred to as a handler, directs a dog through a variety of different obstacles with nothing more than their voice and body gestures. Dogs and their handlers are formally judged based on time and accuracy. All courses are purposefully too complex for the dog to figure out without the aid of their human handler. In addition to having to run through every obstacle, the dog will have to run through them in the proper order. Dog agility requires a great deal of training for both the dog and the handler. If you are raising your dog to compete, then agility training is an important part of pet care.
If you are interested in training your dog to compete in an agility match, there are several things you are going to need to purchase. Perhaps the most important is the obstacles. Every competition has its own unique variety of obstacles, however here are the more common ones:
- Double, Triple, and Spread Jumps
- Panel Jumps
- Broad Jumps (aka long jumps)
- Tire Jumps
- Standard Tunnels
- Collapsed Tunnels
- Pause Table
- Pause Box
- Weave Pole
There are many places online that sell the equipment you will need to get started. For training purposes, you may also need a fair amount of your dog’s favorite treats, or a toy your dog enjoys chasing.
Training to use the equipment itself is fairly easy, at least on a basic level. Teaching your dog to do these obstacles quickly and precisely takes a large amount of training, time, and dedication. You also need to spend a great deal of time teaching your dog to communicate with you on the field. Your dog needs to learn what to look for next, how to execute the obstacle, and whether or not they are doing it correctly. As you may imagine, this can take quite some time to learn properly.
When competing on the field, every wrong move you both make will be judged. Some of the more commonly accepted negative judgments include:
- Time Fault – Your dog takes longer than the judge allows.
- Weave Pole Fault – Back weaving, entering poles incorrectly, or skipping poles.
- Knocked or Dropped Bar -(when jumping)
- Missed Contact – Dog missed contact zone on contact obstacles.
- Off Course – Doing any of the obstacles in the wrong order.
- Handling – Touching your dog while on course.
- Runout – When your dog runs past the next obstacle.
- Refusal – When your dog makes an approach towards the next obstacle, but then backs off it or skips it all together.
While caring for your dog, there may be several other rules depending on which organization is sponsoring the competition. It would be wise to review the rules as soon as you can, to better prepare your dog for them.