Dog agility is a sport in which a handler is given a set amount of time in which to direct a dog off-lead through an obstacle course. Originally based on equestrian competition, the sport has evolved its own obstacles, scoring system and performance ideals. The obstacles consist of various types of jumps, ramps, elevated walks, weaving poles, different types of tunnels and a seesaw.
The Agility Course
An agility course is built to each individual judge’s specifications and a Standard Course Time (SCT) is set for the team to complete the course. Dogs are required to negotiate a set obstacle course without faults such as missing an obstacle or knocking one over. The handler is required to run the course with their dog, directing the dog over, under or through the obstacles. While speed is to be desired, steadiness of work is essential to earn a faultless completion of the course.
Agility trials are open to dogs that are over 18 months old. Many obedience clubs hold agility classes for handlers who would like to learn more about this activity.
Agility competition includes three types of events: Agility, Jumping and Agility Games. Agility classes require negotiation over jumps, tunnels and contact obstacles like ramps and walkovers, while Jumping classes use only tunnel and jump obstacles. Agility Games use all obstacles, requiring the handlers to make choices about the obstacles to be tackled or even to work with another dog and handler team.
As you progress through the levels of competition, the number of obstacles and the degree of difficulty increases. Dogs are also required to complete courses at a faster speed. At the higher levels more qualifying certificates are required to earn a title. The title of Agility Champion (AG Ch) is the ultimate achievement in agility and requires further qualifying certificates and placings to be awarded in the highest level of competition in both Agility and Jumping.