What is agility?
The Dog Agility Sport is a sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. A handler directs a dog running off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler cannot touch neither dog nor obstacles. Consequently the handler’s
controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring training of the handler and dog as a team. It is a lot of fun to learn, perform, and watch.
In Great Britain, dog agility demonstrations were given at agricultural events and by the Royal Air Force Canine Corp as early as 1974. They used many of the obstacles used in the sport today. In 1977 and 1978, the British Dog Show at Crufts used agility demonstrations as a means of entertaining the crowd between the classes. In 1979, agility returned to Crufts as a competitive sport. In 1980, agility came to the United States with the American Kennel Club setting up competitive events across the U.S. Dog agility has become an international dog sport
enjoyed by humans and dogs the world over.
Can any breed do agility? What about my mixed breed dog?
Any pure-bred or mixed breed can enjoy agility training. Some human and dog personalities and/or body types may be better suited for competitive success. Yorkies to Great Danes have been seen on agility courses worldwide. Most training groups do not require you to compete if
you do not choose to. While some agility organizations may have some restrictions with
allowing mixed breeds to compete, there are still plenty of opportunities for mixed breed to compete. Almost all training clubs welcome mixed breeds into their programs. While “any” dog can enjoy agility, some considerations regarding the dog’s age and overall health must be evaluated so they can safely run and jump without causing stress or injury to its body.
Can my puppy do agility?
It is not recommended for young puppies to jump any full height jumps, obstacles and straight line weave poles. Puppies have soft bone plates in their joints that need time to mature and solidify. Dogs’ growth plates need to be closed before engaging in those activities. Different breeds’ growth plates close at different ages. Many breeds are at least a year of age before competing or performing full height jumps or obstacles. Most Agility Instructors will be able to assist in evaluating your dog and place it in an appropriate class.
Can my senior dog do agility?
This depends largely on the physical conditioning and overall health of your dog. Many dogs are able to enjoy agility into their senior years, but you should consult with your vet to determine if agility is safe for your senior dog. A trainer can assist in the evaluation, but you and your vet need to make the final decision.
What are other health concerns for dogs?
Here is where consulting with your vet will be very important for the longevity of the health and well-being of your dog. For example, severely overweight dogs should not perform complete agility obstacles and runs. Too much weight coming down on your dog’s joints can damage them. A quick check to determine if your dog is at a proper weight for their breed and for agility is to check your dog’s ribs. From a standing position, you should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs while lightly running your hand over the dog. If you have to dig in to feel the ribs, your dog may need to lose weight before starting agility. If you have a heavy coated dog, you need to work your finger into the coat down to the skin before feeling for the ribs. If you’re not sure, consult with your vet. Many people don’t realize that what may be a healthy weight for a house pet can be too heavy for a canine athlete. Other health concerns should also be discussed with your vet.
What about my health concerns when doing agility?
Consulting with your health provider is your best option. There have been people seen at training classes, training seminars, and competitive events wear cast on their arms, wrist, and ankles. Knee pads, knee braces, wraps, and other assisted braces are worn. Wheel chairs have received special permission to get on the courses. One special young lady has competed with no arms. So your determination will be a big factor.
What should I expect from an agility class?
An agility class should teach you and your dog how to perform as a team. A class will teach you
how to perform all the different obstacles in agility in a safe and consistent manner. It will increase your relationship with your dog. It also can increase your dog’s confidence. For the Austin area, most agility classes will be from 6 to 10 weeks in length. The cost will vary depending on the club, location, and type of class or seminar. You should expect your trainers to have experience in agility, usually in the form of some competition experience or having trained at least one dog to an advanced skill level in agility themselves. You should expect your agility equipment to be sturdy and as safe as possible, and conform to the specifications of the sport. Most homemade equipment is fine, but pieces that are rickety or out of proportion are not. In addition, beware of trainers that make promises regarding the level of success you will enjoy after just a few weeks or months of training.
My dog can jump great heights at home – fences, shrubbery, etc. Can I get started at
Just because your dog is capable of jumping a 4-foot fence doesn’t mean it should. The
ability to perform a physical feat should not be confused with what is best for your dog in
terms of joint and spine health, etc. Agility is not just about physical prowess – it is about successful communication with your dog. We recommend focusing on basic training and obedience games at home until you have more experience in agility yourself and understand the limits of what your dog should be expected to do. There are also many classes around town that offer “tricks” or “games” classes, teaching fun exercises that can be practiced at home safely.
What kind of training does my dog need before starting agility?
Your dog should understand some basic obedience commands, particularly sit, stay,
come, and down. If your dog doesn’t have a perfect stay it doesn’t mean that you can’t
join a beginner class while you continue to work on the skill. Some agility training
facilities may require you to take their basic obedience training before entering an agility
class, and this is not unusual. There is also a DVD that we recommend called In FOCUS Foundation Work. It is available at www.cleanrun.com, and it is loaded with pre-agility foundation skills that you can work on at home.
How fast will my dog progress?
Dogs progress at different rates based on how well socialized they are, how much training you do outside of the class, the breed of the dog, the age of the dog and the dog’s natural temperament. Even dogs from the same litter can progress at a different rate.
How and When can I sign up for training?
For more information please contact Linda Reitzel at firstname.lastname@example.org
You will fill out and sign a form provided by the Club and present or email the form to the
Club’s Training Director before starting the class.
Where does CDTCA hold their agility classes?
130 Woodland Trail, Leander, TX 78641
3800 County Road 175, Leander, TX 78641
Remember: Agility is a sport for both dog and owner/handler to have FUN!
How do I become a member?
To become a member of Capitol Dog Training each applicant shall apply on an official Club form presented to the Membership Director. By applying, the applicant agrees to abide by the Club’s constitution and bylaws, and the rules of the American Kennel Club. The applicant will be required to work/assist at a minimum of one Capitol Dog Training Club trial, match, or other Club activity and attend 2 Club meetings within one year. Once the requirements are met, the applicant will be voted upon and affirmative votes of two-thirds vote of the members present shall be required to elect the applicant.
What are the requirements of club members?
The general membership is to promote wider knowledge and appreciation of training and participation in AKC and other dog approved events, to assist in conducting training classes for dogs and handlers, to promote and assist with performance sports (trials/matches/etc.) for dogs and handlers, and promote cooperation and good sportsmanship among its members in the training and exhibition of dogs.
Do I need to have done obedience before agility?
Obedience is not required but would definitely help. Taking one of Capitol’s Pre-Agility Classes is highly recommended. Either of these will get you off to a great start.