Dog Sport Highlight: What is Agility?

According to the AKC, agility one of the fastest growing dog sports in the United States. The sport started in the late 1970s in England and has gained immense popularity in the dog world. In fact, you have probably seen an agility competition (also known as a trial) 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 as they get together to test a dog’s strength, endurance, and concentration. As a dog works with a handler in a variety of obstacles, agility is a sport that requires conditioning, teamwork, and a lot of practice. If you’re new to agility’s specifics, here are some fun facts.

agility dog jumping

The Basics of Agility

Each agility race is set up in a 100-foot by 100-foot area. Each pair of dogs and handlers is judged on how fast the course is completed, by the competition’s standards. There are many reasons a dog can have points deducted including missing an obstacle, veering off course, knocking down a pole, or missing a contact zone. Contact zones are specific places or objects a dog must make contact with throughout the course. The dog with the most points left after any deductions wins. In the case of two dogs with a perfect round, the winner is judged on speed.

dog running weave poles for agility

The Three Types of Agility

The AKC recognizes three class types in agility competitions: Standard, Jumpers with Weaves, and FAST. Each of these types also has degrees of difficulty for dogs to earn titles at Novice, Open, Excellent, and Master levels.

Standard Agility – This type of 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.

Jumpers with Weaves – This class only has jumps, weave poles, and tunnels. This agility class is very fast-paced.

FAST – The name of this class stands for Fifteen and Send Time. FAST courses are also known as Gamblers or Jackpot courses. FAST courses include fifteen obstacles that measure a dog’s athletic ability and willingness to work with the handler. Each obstacle has a different point value. Some of the obstacles in the FAST course are predetermined by a judge, and some of them aren’t. A handler must strategically take their dog through the obstacles that will make their dog look the best to the judges.

Any Dog Can Do Agility!

Any dog can compete in agility if they are physically fit enough for the challenge. Competitions allow a dog of any size or breed to compete. Dogs each run the same course, with adjustments made to cater to each height and speed.

a-frame for agility

United States Agility Organizations

There are five main organizations in the United States that sponsor agility trials. 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 learning about agility, or training to compete, these websites are a great place to start:

The American Kennel Club (AKC)
Canine Performance Events (CPE)
United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA)
United Kennel Club (UKC)
The North American Dog Agility Council (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 dog and owner. There are many great options to get your pup involved, and is sure to bring you many hours of fun and entertainment.

dog doing tunnel for agility

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