Dog agility is loosely modeled on equestrian jumping competition. Dog agility today has become one of the most popular canine activities in the world. The sport of dog agility is where the dog handler, in a race against the clock, is given a time period to direct a dog off-leash through an obstacle course.
The sport of dog agility made its debut at the world famous Crufts Dog Show in England on 2-10-78. What we now call dog agility was originally created as a show, to entertain people surrounding the main competition ring between the obedience championship and the judging of the show dogs called conformation. The dogs were attired in team track suits and the attending crowd loved the spectacle and performance and the success of dog agility training began on that day.
A member of the 1978 Crufts Organizing Committee by the name of John Varley had an interest in dogs as well as horses. This personal interest combination was the likely inspiration that gave rise to what we now know as dog agility. Along with a gentleman by the name of Peter Meanwell, they planned and masterminded the very first agility demonstration at the 1978 Crufts Dog Show, and are also responsible for the majority of the rules for the sport as well as the concepts that are still a part of dog agility as we know it today.
Their criteria for the concept of their “between competitions” show was it had to be fun, not endanger the dogs, and had to have a strong spectator appeal. Agility became a big hit, and the sport developed a strong following from that point forwards.
By the end of 1979, agility was a featured highlight at the internationally renowned English Horse Show Olympia. It is now almost 3 decades later and Olympia is still seen to be the highest achievement a dog/handler team in England can achieve. The 1980 Crufts Dogs Show marked the formal introduction of what is titled the English Kennel Club Agility Test Regulations. At that 1980 show, Peter Meanwell was the Judge and the first person to interpret the new Regulations.
There are several national organizations for dog agility in the United States that sanction trials held by local dog training clubs. Trials are based on international rules and call for the highest level of agility from the dogs in participation in terms of speed and their ability to perform the obstacle course.
All obstacles used in agility have been designed for safety of the dog so as not to experience injury.
Obstacles that the dog is expected to physically scale have “contact” zones painted on the equipment to enforce safe training techniques, and the handlers know the dogs will be faulted unless one or more paws are in the contact zones when ascending or descending these contact obstacles. The dogs are directed by their handlers around obstacles arranged in various configurations creating a course in a sequence that has been predetermined by the judge.
At the entry level competition, courses contain few complicated tasks and call for less actual agility (by using smaller obstacles and lower jump heights) and focus more on the handling aspects of the game to allow the dogs to display they can competently perform the tasks the equipment requires of them within a reasonable amount of time.
As the dog and handler develop into higher levels of ability, the courses increase in complexity requiring split-second coordination and timing between the handler and dog to accomplish the course within the “Standard Course Time” (SCT) established by the judge. Dogs compete against other dogs of similar height at the withers and within their jump height divisions. The dog with the fastest time and the lowest number of faults wins the class or height division.
Dog agility is fast and exciting.
Training methods and skill development are continually evolving and enthusiasts are now found around the world.
REVIEWS OF DOG AGILITY EQUIPMENT
The PetSafe Agility 3-foot Closed Tunnel will provide your dog with hours of fun. The kit comes with a detachable chute that can be a challenging obstacle for your dog to master. Your dog would have to learn to navigate the chute without the benefit of being able to see through to the other side.
The PetSafe Agility 10-foot Open Tunnel is a great starter for dog agility training. Get your dog to master going through the tunnel straight and then change it up by adding a curve or two for more difficulty. The kit comes with a carrying case so you can bring your tunnel with you, or to store it in a folded position when not in use.
Teach your dog to jump to new heights with the PetSafe Agility Bar Jump single bar hurdle. It has a simple design that will keep your dog safe, but is sturdy enough for regular use. The kit includes a carrying case for easy travel or to store while not in use.
PetSafe Agility Weave Poles are one of the most enjoyable parts of an obstacle course for you and your dog. Test your dog’s agility, and speed. Mastering the agility poles will fill your dog with pride. Each kit comes with a total of 6 poles, sent 10 inches apart from one another.
The PetSafe Agility Ring Jump is one of the most entertaining obstacles for both you and your dog. Because of the confined ring it will take great agility on your dog’s part to jump through. The ring is made of soft foam for when your dog hits it during a jump.