It’s an obstacle course where your pooch will barrel through tunnels, fly over jumps, scale dogwalks and wind their way through weave poles. It’s fun for dogs and even more fun for owners and spectators. It is one of the fastest-growing dog sports in the USA!
Dogs are judged on speed and accuracy. They have to complete the course in an allotted time frame, but most important, they have to do it by completing each obstacle correctly and in the right order. This might seem like work but to a dog this is FUN! All healthy dogs can do agility—ranging from the very small to the very tall. Dogs are divided by height in order to make the competition equal among the different sizes of dogs. It’s an even playing field… and there’s lots of playing!
How to Get Started
Your dog needs basic obedience training before they start agility. Also, dogs’ growth plates should be closed before they start jumping, weaving and performing full-height obstacles. If you have a puppy or young dog, get your veterinarian’s advice before starting agility training.
Agility Teamwork Class (6 weeks)
The goal of this class is to build a working relationship between dog and handler in preparation for working off-leash in a stimulating environment, such as agility or rally. Through a variety of games and exercises, you will work on your dog’s focus, drive and impulse control. This class is not meant for shy, fearful, or reactive dogs. To successfully complete this course, your dog should demonstrate good control off leash with other dogs around and be able to be called away from other dogs/handlers. This course is a prerequisite for all other agility classes.
Introduction to Obstacles (6 weeks)
(Prerequisite: Teamwork Class)
This class is for handlers/dogs to be introduced to all AKC agility equipment. Dogs will learn to travers the dog walk, climb the Aframe, and have confidence on the teeter, all at a low height. Dogs will go through all shapes, lengths, and colors of tunnels. Dogs will go through weave poles with the help of channels, guide wires, and gates. And dogs will go through s tire jump, over a bar jump, winged jump, panel jump, broad jump, double jump, and triple jump. Dogs will also review the table from Teamwork class.
Obstacles Proficiency & Proofing
(Prerequisites: Teamwork and Intro to Obstacles)
Time to move those contact obstacles to full height. In the first couple of weeks, we will have the dog walk, Aframe, & teeter at low heights and by the time you are ready to graduate, your dog will be confident on all full height equipment. We will also start training an end behavior to the contacts – either “two on, two off” or a running contact. Consistency is the key to success. Dogs will learn to drive (run fast) over obstacles while still being in control at the end. We will also practice maintaining criteria even with distractions. Dogs will also get a chance to practice their weave poles every week. Channels, guide wires, and gates will all be available to assist your dog driving forward and weaving without looking at you.
Basic Handling Skills (6 weeks)
(Prerequisites: Teamwork, Intro to Obstacles, and Obstacle Proficiency)
This class focuses more on the handler than the dog. It is time to learn how to steer your dog as they are running full speed over jumps and through tunnels. Learn how to execute a front cross, blind cross, and a rear cross in various tunnels and jump sequences. Teach your dog to come closer to you or go farther out from you all while running and taking obstacles.
Novice Coursework (6 weeks)
(Prerequisites: Teamwork, Intro to Obstacles, Obstacle Proficiency, and Basic Handling Skills)
Dogs must be a minimum of 12 months old and in good athletic shape to take this class. Dogs can work off leash with another dog running a course sequence off leash in the ring next to them. Dogs should be confident on ALL agility obstacles at full height and completing 12 weave poles with minimal “help” from handler or training devices. In this class, the skills learned in Obstacle Proficiency & Proofing and Basic Handling Skills will be combined. This class will prepare dogs/handlers to compete in Agility Course Test I & II.