Agility is a canine sport where your dog must overcome obstacles against the clock. It requires training to guide it and perform the tests in accordance with the rules, especially if your objective is to present it in competitions.
Some breeds are more suitable for practicing this sport, but before doing so you will need to know everything about the type of training that is required and the most famous competitions. Discover what we have prepared for you at Proactivepetproducts.com.
What is Agility?
This road sport appeared in 1970, when it was created by Peter Meanwell, a dog trainer; Ten years later, the American Kennel Club recognized it as an activity for dogs.
Agility consists of a circuit with different obstacles that the dog must overcome in the company of its master’s commands , but without the human intervening by touching it.
Dog and trainer must be able to find a way to avoid obstacles accurately and quickly, as speed is appreciated. A set of judges observes and evaluates the maneuvers used.
Benefits of practicing Agility for dogs
The first and most important benefit is fun . You and your dog will enjoy hours of fun activities during training, it’s a great way to spend time together and play.
In addition, Agility brings these benefits for your dog:
- Intelligence: completing the circuits implies looking for the best way to overcome the different tests, the dog uses the instructions of its master, but also practices its own decision-making capacity and analysis of problems.
- Exercise: dogs that require a lot of physical activity are ideal for agility, as it includes jumping and running.
- Socialization: it is advisable to go to a canine club to practice Agility, so your dog will meet other people and pets.
- Training: learning and obeying commands is the very foundation of this sport, so it is excellent training.
Dog breeds to practice Agility
The International Cynological Federation (FCI) is in charge of establishing the guidelines for Agility competitions worldwide. However, it is also possible to attend competitions not endorsed by the organization.
Regarding the categories established by the FCI, there are 3 classifications to enter the competition:
- Small breeds: dogs with less than 35 centimeters at the withers.
- Medium breeds: dogs that measure between 35 and 42 centimeters at the withers.
- Large breeds: dogs that measure 17 inches at the withers or more.
Some of the ideal breeds for this sport are:
- Belgian Shepherd (any of its varieties)
- Border collie
- Golden retriever
- Labrador retriever
- German shepherd
- Australian pastor
These are some breeds, only those recognized by the FCI can participate in official competitions. On the other hand, if you are interested in playing Agility with your dog as a hobby, mongrel dogs can also participate , as this sport is suitable for all those dogs that enjoy physical activity and are in good health.
In all categories or as a hobby, dogs must be over 18 months to start Agility training.
How to get started in Agility?
So far you have found Agility to be good for dogs, but how do you start practicing it with your furry friend?
First of all, it is advisable to join an Agility club in your country . With a simple search on the Internet, you will find one available and thus you will be in contact with specialists who can guide you in this sport.
The second step is to conduct a medical evaluation of your dog. This sport is demanding and can cause injuries to dogs with some diseases, such as elbow and hip dysplasia, arthritis and heart problems. Explain to the vet your desire to start Agility so that she can carry out the necessary evaluations.
You may be interested in practicing this sport with your dog, but you have no intention of entering competitions. For this you can buy an Agility kit for dogs and build the circuit in your home garden or in a park . The contents of these kits can vary, but generally include a tunnel, parts to build a vaulting podium, and sticks.
In the same way, you must teach the dog the necessary commands to avoid the obstacles in the expected way. If you join the club, they will explain to you what is necessary to overcome the competition circuit; at home, the commands should be tailored to what your kit includes, with instructions such as “jump,” “roll,” and “stay.”
Common tests in Agility
The competition takes place on an Agility track for dogs, which must measure at least 20 x 40 meters; the obstacles total between 15 and 22, with at least 7 hurdles per circuit; each of these obstacles is separated between 4 (small races) and 7 meters (large races).
There is a TMR or maximum time to complete the tour, in addition to a TRS, or standard travel time. Ideally, the dog and its owner complete the circuit in less than TRS, in the cleanest and most orderly way possible.
Here are some of the common tests found:
Walls and viaducts
With at least a meter of something, it can make a solid wall or with one or two tunnels at the bottom. The goal is for the dog to jump over it.
This is other jumping obstacle. It consists of a wheel arranged vertically for the dog to pass through.
It consists of posts arranged in such a way that the dog must avoid them while doing the circuit, which includes 12 of them.
With a diameter of 60 centimeters, it must be made of a flexible material. The goal is for the dog to go through the tunnel.
Similar to the tube tunnel, the plan includes a cylindrical construction 60 centimeters in diameter and 90 centimeters deep; towards the end, the tunnel is flattened thanks to a fabric that is 180-220 centimeters long.
It is the most frequent obstacle on the circuits. They are made of different materials and the jump can consist of avoiding a single fence (simple) or two in a row (grouped).