Agility: The Fastest Growing Dog Sport

Since its beginning in 1978, agility has not only gained immense popularity in the dog world but according to the AKC it is one of the fastest growing dog sports in the United States. In fact, you have probably seen an agility competition at some point in your life, whether it was on TV or at a competition.

Agility is a fun way for pets and handlers to bond and get together to test a dog’s strength, endurance, concentration, and teamwork. As a dog works with a handler in a variety of obstacles, agility is a sport that requires conditioning and a lot of practice. If you don’t know much about this sport, here are some fun facts.

Agility Competition Basics

Each race is setup in a 100-foot by 100-foot area. The handler and dog are judged based on how fast the course is completed based on the competition’s standards. There are many reasons a dog can be given point deductions, including missing an obstacle, veering off course, knocking down a pole, or missing a contact zone. The dog with the most points and least faults at the end wins.

dog jumping hurdle in agility competition

The AKC Has Three Types of Agility Classes

Agility has three types of classes: Standard, Jumpers with Weaves, and FAST. The Standard class includes contact obstacles, tunnels, and various jumps and hurdles. Contact obstacles include the A-Frame, dog walk, and see-saw. There are two types of agility tunnels–the collapsed tunnel, and pipe tunnel. The Jumpers with Weaves class only has jumps, weave poles, and tunnels. This agility class is very fast-paced. FAST is the third class, which stands for fifteen and send. This course includes fifteen obstacles that measure a dog’s athletic ability and willingness to work with the handler. Each obstacle has a different point value. Besides the distance challenge, FAST courses do not have a set route.

Agility is for Any Dog

All dogs, no matter the size, age, weight, or breed are welcome to perform in agility. Due to the athletic requirements, it is important to be sure your dog is healthy enough and strong enough to perform. Each dog will run the same course with adjustments being made to cater to each height and speed.

dog running through weave poles

Agility Organizations in the United States

For agility, there are five organizations in the United States that sponsor competitions. Each has their own specific titles, meaning points cannot be mixed and matched between the organizations. While the obstacles do remain the same for the most part, there could be some slight differences between specifications. If you are interested in this sport, it is best to research to see what is the right fit for you. The five organizations are – AKC, CPE, USDAA, UKC, and the NADAC.

Whether you watch it on TV, compete, or just do it for fun, agility is a great way to give your pup exercise and enrich the bond shared between the owner and dog. There are many great options to get your pup involved; all it takes is a little research and time!

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