Newest Review: ... piece of equipment to 'do' next. Having said this, the above rules only apply in competitions. My dogs are currently learning agility and t... more
Dog Agility Sport
Member Name: MollyWH
Dog Agility Sport
Advantages: Keeps you and your dog fit, lots of fun
I started doing agility with my dogs when I was around 10 years old, and then the club I belonged to stopped running. I recently got in contact with a local agility club and asked about joining. I have now been a member since the New Year and I absolutely love it.
What is Dog Agility?
Agility is basically an obstacle course for dogs. The dog is required to complete a trail of various types of equipment including jumps, tunnels and tyres. The idea is that the course is completed with the shortest time and with the least number of faults.
I am required to pay a £7 annual membership fee and then a further £4 for each agility session. The one downside to this is that I am a shift worker which means I am unable to attend every week but I still have to pay, even when I can't make the class.
What Breeds Suit Agility?
Any breed of dog is able to do agility. The only real set back is that your dog has to be at least 18months old before they can start agility. This is to ensure that their bones and muscles have developed properly. At my agility group, we have a whole array of dogs that attend including (lots!) of Border Collies, a Gordon Setter, Poodles and even a Chihuahua.
Rules Of Agility
In an actual competition, the idea is that the dogs completes the course totally off the lead and without any encouragement from the owner via treats or touch. You should be able to give your dog various commands which will tell them which piece of equipment to 'do' next. Having said this, the above rules only apply in competitions. My dogs are currently learning agility and these rules do not apply in the sessions that I attend.
As I mentioned earlier, the agility course is to be completed with the shortest time and with the least number of faults. For each fault that is noticed, time will be added onto your final time so obviously the idea is to complete the course without any faults at all. There are various faults that you will come across in agility; these include:
Knocking poles off. If your dog knocks a pole off any of the jumps, this will count as a fault.
Missing a contact point. On various pieces of equipment such as the A frame, see saw and dog walk, there are contact point and the beginning and end of each piece of equipment and your dog is required to touch these points. If they fail to do this, it will count as a fault.
There is a piece of equipment called a weave (more about this later) and you can receive points for doing this incorrectly. For example, if your dog misses a weave pole or doesn't enter at the correct pole, then this will be counted as a fault.
If your dog misses a piece of equipment totally and just goes to the next piece of equipment, then this is also counted as a fault.
Finally if your dog doesn't want to 'do' a piece of equipment, or even if they hesitate while approaching, this will be counted as a fault.
The Agility Course
The actual course set up will be different for every club and most competitions but you will normally find the same pieces of equipment. These are:
This piece of equipment is pretty self explanatory. It consists of 2 sides and a pole going across the middle. At the club I attend, the jumps have three different height settings which can then be adjusted depending on the size and ability of each dog. The dog is to jump the pole without touching it or knocking it off.
Again, pretty self explanatory. There are two types of tunnels. The first one is plastic and flexible and is either laid out straight or curved. The second one has a solid entrance to the tunnel but the rest of the tunnel is laid out flat on the floor and is made from fabric. With this version, your dog is required to run through the tunnel and it opens up as they run. With the first version, they are simply required to run through it.
This piece of equipment basically has two sides which meet together in the middle to create an 'A' shape. The dog is required to run up one side and back down the other, touching the contact points on both sides.
This is basically a tyre which is suspended in the air by a metal frame. Again, this piece of equipment has various height settings depending on the height and ability of the dog. Your dog is required to jump straight through the middle of the tyre.
This is just the same as your average see-saw. Your dog is required to run up one side, pause in the middle to wait for the see-saw to go down and then run down the remainder of the see-saw. Your dog is also required to touch the contact points at the beginning and end of the see-saw.
The dog walk consists of a ramp at either end which are connected by a straight centre piece. The centre piece is roughly 4 ft from the floor. Your dog is required to run up one ramp, along the centre piece and back down the ramp at the other side. Your dog is also required to touch the contact points and either end.
The weave consists of around 8 - 10 poles which are placed at about 12 inches apart. The idea is that the dog weaves in and out of each pole until they reach the end. In my experience, this is one of the hardest pieces of equipment to train your dog to do but it's stunning to watch a dog do this properly.
This is a table which is about 12 inches high. The dog is required to jump on the table and either 'sit' or down' for between 5 - 10 seconds.
I would highly recommend agility to anyone who owns a dog. It is a fantastic way of bonding with your dog, helps in training them and also knackers them out (which is extremely useful when you have two hyper Border Collies). Not only will your dog benefit from learning something new such as all the commands for the various pieces of equipment, but you will meet like minded people that also attend agility and have lots of fun too.