Dog Agility Sport

December 21st, 2006

Dog agility is gaining speed as one of Europe and America’s best animal sports. In dog agility, a handler guides the dog in going through a course in the least amount of time possible.

The dog cannot be confined to a leash during agility competitions. As the clock ticks on, the dog has to complete various obstacles, ranging from jumps to pipes as spectators watch from the stands.

Dog agility is a knock off of equestrian stadium jumping, but it now has its own obstacles, rules and scoring agenda separate from the original root source. There are numerous organizations that cater to dog agility participants.

In the United States, you can find organizations that conduct trials through local dog training clubs. These groups adhere to the rigid international rules for agility performance.

During a dog agility competition, the participants are judged, not only on speed, but also on physical performance within the obstacle course. The level of your dog's obedience training isn't too relevant for agility competitions, but I am sure it helps win favour with judges to always have a dog well under control despite the lack of specific points for it! Each country also has its own set of domestic rules they sometimes go by, such as scoring that is handler-based rather than performance-based.

Ideally, the organization handling the trial will ensure that the agility obstacle course is designed with the safety of the dog in mind. For instance, if a dog calculates distance wrong, he won’t get injured on the jump bar because they’re displaceable. And surfaces are roughened up before competitions to ensure the dog doesn’t slip or slide and get injured during an agility competition.

During an agility competition, the animals and handlers will participate in various obstacle courses that offer different levels of challenge based on the pet’s level of ability. When the trial begins, the handler has to maneuver the dog through the course without use of a leash or reward, beating the complicated course in the least amount of time.

As the dog and its handler participate in more agility trials, they will usually move up to a higher level of competition, where the courses get more complex and higher levels of skill are required.

When a dog does something wrong during a competition, it’s known as a “fault,” and they are penalized if they go over the standard time calculations. Dogs of equal size are pitted against one another in divisions. Then the animal that participates in the agility training and garners the shortest time and least number of faults wins, along with its handler who helped guide him through the course.