What is Dog Agility?

aussie-2-running-agilityDog agility is a fast and fun sport where you guide your dog through an obstacle course, trying to do it as quickly as possible without any mistakes.  Your dog will leap over jumps, snake through weave poles, race through tunnels, walk up A-frames, and much more.  Every course is different from the last, which adds to the fun.  Owners have to direct their dogs through the course with verbal cues and hand signals, and dogs have to pay attention to the commands in order to run a fast and clean race.  Below is a video of different dogs competing in dog agility to give you and idea of what it’s like.

Want to learn more about the different obstacles in dog agility?  Read on!

Jumps

There are many kinds of jumps in Agility.  There are single jumps, panel jumps, broad jumps, and tire jumps.  Each one of them is very interesting and fun!

  • Single jumps are adjustable for dogs and can be brought up for a large German Shepherd or lowered for a tiny Chihuahua.
  • Panel jumps are panels on the ground.  They are made of many smaller panels so they can
    agility-broad-jump

    The broad jump

    easily be made lower or higher.

  • Broad jumps are usually four or five boards that are raised a little.  The dog must jump over them without touching the platform and land on the other side.  They are also called long jumps.  It is very fun to watch a dog glide over a broad jump!
  • A tire jump is basically a tire that a dog jumps through.  They are not rough like normal tires but wrapped in tape to protect your dog from getting hurt.  They are also adjustable so any dog can jump through it.

Weave Poles

agility-weave-polesWeave poles are a set of 5-12 poles which a dog must weave through.  A dog must always enter the first pole on the left side and not miss any poles.  It is very hard, and for some dogs it takes months and sometimes even years to master.  The poles are spaced 24 inches apart so there won’t be so much stress on a dog’s back.  Some dogs love to go through poles lightning-fast!

Tunnels

agility-tunnel

Collapsed tunnel

There are two types of tunnels: the normal, open tunnel and the collapsed tunnel.  The collapsed tunnel is a shorter tunnel with a chute attached at the end.  The dog must push through the chute to get to the other side.  The tunnels are flexible and safe so your dog will not get hurt zooming through.

A-frameagility-a-frame

The A-frame is two ramps attached together, forming an A shape.  The bottom of the A-frame is colored a bright color, usually yellow, to show that it is the “contact zone”.  The contact zone is where the dog must put at least one paw while climbing on or off the frame.
The A-frame has elevated slats to help your dog climb up and down the frame, and some organizations require a rubber surface so a dog can’t slip so easily.

Dog Walk

agility-dog-walkA dog walk consists of two slats which act as ramps to lead to the center plank.  The center plank is straight and the dog will walk up a ramp, walk on the center plank, and then walk down a ramp.

corgi-jump-agilityThese are just a few popular obstacles you would see at a dog agility competition.  If you would like to teach your dog this professionally or just for fun in the backyard, always make sure the equipment is safe and secure so your dog won’t get hurt.  Also, consult your veterinarian.  If your pet is a senior dog, all of the jumping and weaving may be too hard on his back.  However, it’s not only older dogs who may have to take it easy on agility.  It can be hazardous for puppies too.  Their growth plates are still growing, and too much jumping or weaving could damage them.  Consult your veterinarian on what age would be best to start training your puppy agility.  However, at an early age, work on come, sit, lay down, and all of the basics.  This will lay a fine foundation for when you actually train your dog agility.

agility-tire-jump

There’s a great book about dog agility on Amazon.com.  It’s called The Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility.  It explains agility in detail and tells you how to train your dog for this fun sport.  The author, Laurie Leach, is a national level agility competitor.  The book is easy to read and has many pictures, showing you the obstacles and many other things.  It covers everything from the rules, selecting a puppy or adult dog with agility potential, choosing an agility class, to your very first trail.

Can any Breed do Dog Agility?

The answer to the above question is an absolute yes!  Any breed can compete in dog agility (though it may take more training for some).  Certain kennel clubs even allow mixed breeds to join in the fun!  Don’t worry if your dog is shy or too energetic.  Sometimes agility is just what a shy dog needs to gain confidence and is the perfect solution to a hyper dog.

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About Sissy

Hi! I'm Sissy, a Toy Poodle. On Doggy Times I share articles about dog training, socialization, care, and health. Check out the Trick and Dog Breed Pages to learn more about your furry friend and how to train him/her.

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