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What is Dog Agility?




            If your dog can go up an A-frame, over jumps, through tunnels and weave through poles, dog agility may be the sport for you. 


            Dog Agility is a sport which originated in England over 20 years ago.  It is a competition between dog and handler against the clock.    Dogs as well as handlers can be of any shape, size or age and of any fitness level.  If you are not in shape when you start agility, you will be in short order.  Any breed is allowed to play in agility and there are special classes to accommodate the largest or smallest dog as well as the veterans.


Each dog and handler team must successfully complete a course consisting of an A-frame, dogwalk, teeter, jumps, tunnels, chutes, weave poles and a down for 5 seconds on a table.  Each course will be different and present various challenges.  The Aframe, dogwalk and teeter have yellow end zones which a judge must see the dog touch with a paw.  This is designed for safety.  The weave poles, normally 12 in a row must be executed with the dog entering between the 1st and 2nd pole on his left ”paw”side and must then continue to weave until the end.  Occasionally there is a 60 weave pole challenge held to see which dog can weave 60 poles in the shortest amount of time.  Each course will vary as each individual judge gets to design their own course within certain requirements so you never see the same course twice.


There are various different organizations which you can become a member of.  You don’t have to be a member to compete but you do need to have your dog registered with each organization.  There is the Agility Association of Canada (AAC), United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), Canine Performance Events (CPE) and also the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)and the American Kennel Club (AKC), all have varying rules and regulations. The Canadian Kennel Club and American Kennel Club also require the dogs to be purebred and registered.


Most competitions in the Okanagan are run in accordance with AAC rules.  In AAC, there are a variety of games to which you can earn titles.  There is the Standard run which is a combination of all the agility equipment and is numbered which you must follow.  Most of these courses have between 18 and 22 obstacles that you must perform correctly under a certain time frame.  There is the Gamblers class which challenges your dog’s ability to work at a distance.  Snooker is a game which challenges your dog’s ability to work in close and move past obstacles without taking them…… sometimes this can be very tricky.  And of course the Jumpers course which is strictly jumps and tunnels.  The Jumpers course is normally very fast with lots of turns.  There is a team component in the team relay where you are paired up with another dog and handler team and you each run half a course.  You do have the option of choosing your team partner or it will be picked randomly.  And last there is Steeplechase, which is a game of speed.  It is a course with the contact obstacles and jumps, no table, and is designed with very tight turns, so in this game you run all out. 


The dogs are grouped into three classes; REGULAR, SPECIALS and VETERANS.  Regular – are exactly that, regular dogs.  Specials is for handlers that do not want their dogs jumping full height so if you put your dog into specials it gets to jump at a lower jump height.  This is great for some dogs that may have conformation, character or health issues.  In specials alls the dogs complete the same course under the same time frame but the Aframe is lowered for them.  The Veterans class is for any dog of any breed that has reached the age of 7.  Veterans have more time to complete a course and the option to compete at one or two jump heights lower than regular.  Jump heights are determined by the dog’s height at their withers (shoulder blades).


There are three performance levels in AAC.  New dogs to agility or young dogs begin trialing at the Starters level and progress through Advanced and up to the Masters level.  As a team advances, the courses become increasingly difficult with more obstacles, greater challenges and shorter course times.


In order to move up the ranks you need to successfully complete a course and earn a “Q” which signifies a clean run, no faults and under time.   A “Q” qualifies the team for a “leg” towards a title.  The titles in AAC are for Starters- Agility dog of Canada (ADC), Advanced- Advanced Agility Dog of Canada (AADC), Masters-Masters Agility dog of Canada (MADC) and the Agility Trial Champion of Canada (ATChC).  There are also bronze, silver and lifetime achievement awards granted once your reach  certain number of “Q’s at the Masters level.


Every year, each province holds a Regional Competition that anyone can enter but only those that accumulate enough points over the two days of competition can move onto the National Championships held in August. 


From Kamloops to Vernon to Kelowna and south there are various clubs and organizations that teach and hold sanctioned trials each year.  On average at least 6 a year without having to travel too far but once you are addicted to dog agility; you won’t think anything of driving up to 8 hours for a weekend trial, outside in all weather.  It is a huge social event as well and becomes a family of friends and competitors.  Most people you only meet up with at the agility trials so be prepared to stay all day.  Volunteers are also greatly appreciated at most events so bring your loved ones too.


I began competing in agility in 2000 with Shaydar, my Border Collie X as he needed something to keep his mind and body active and started Up ‘N’ Over Dog Agility in 2002 and have been teaching ever since.  My main goal in each class I teach is for the dog and owner to have fun, get some exercise, and socialize in a safe and fun environment.  Most of my students have found it has also had some great results in strengthening the bond between dog and owner.  I run classes between March and November in Westbank. 


I can be reached by email sharon@upnoverdogagility.com

You can check out my website at www.upnoverdogagility.com



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This site was last updated 02/10/16