Dog Agility is one of the most popular dog sports to participate in and to watch. It is fast paced, shows incredible teamwork between dog and handler. Dog Agility is exciting and tough to train for since most of the obstacles exhibit behaviors that dogs would not normally do.
The sport of dog agility is a team sport that involves setting up an obstacle course consisting of a set of standard obstacles on a standard sized field through which the dog runs through guided by signals from the handler. The dog agility teams do not know how the obstacles will be set up or in what order prior to getting to the competition field. The handlers are allowed to walk through the course, without their dog, prior to the competition to size up how they would best place themselves for the run-through. The courses are complex to the point that a dog could not do the course without a handler.
The dog agility contestants are timed and rated according to performance. During the dog agility coursing the teams have points taken away for missed obstacles, not properly navigating the particular obstacle, hesitations and any other mistakes through the agility course. These are called faults. Dog agility contestants are grouped by size and compete against dogs of similar physical traits.
The obstacles are grouped by contact, tunnels, jump and miscellaneous obstacles. The contact obstacles include the A-Frame, dog walk, teeter-totter, cross over. Tunnels can be rigid walled all the way through where the pathway is open or can have a rigid entrance with a soft, sock like extension that the dog must run through. Jumps come in either adjustable height pole jumps, similar to equestrian jumps or the tire jump that has a hoop or tire that the dog jumps through. Miscellaneous obstacles include the pole weave, where a dog has to sprint through a set of poles weaving through every other one and the pause platform where sit-stay is required for a designated time.
Although there is lots of material in book and DVD format for learning agility it is more likely to get involve, you would need to go to classes. Hopefully you have a local obedience club that also does agility or some private teachers that do workshops. Although learning is a challenge, you and your dog will bond and gain loads of confidence. Dog agility is open to any dogs, regardless of breeding or size. Agility is high energy and very stressful on your dog. Be aware of injuries that can occur. This is also another great reason for taking classes to get started to have a professional as an observer. Dog agility is one of the most popular dog sports around and is a great way to have a blast with your canine companion.