Among the wide range of canine sports, Agility – or agility course – is without doubt one of the best known and most spectacular.
Activity of choice to strengthen the bond between a master and his faithful companion, Agility is a dream for many dog owners … But you still have to be able to train properly!
To do this, you can find different Agility kits to install at home and to test again and again with your doggie.
If you are new to the subject, it is not necessarily easy to know where to start and how to choose the accessories that will make up your future Agility journey.
In this article, we offer some tips to guide your research and help you find the accessories that suit you and your canine partner.
Agility Kit: What Is It?
Agility kits are sets of accessories used to create different obstacles that a dog usually crosses as part of an official Agility course.
The Agility rules admit only three types of obstacles: jumps (hedges, walls, long jumps, etc.), zones (walkways, swings and palisades) and an “other” category including tunnels and slaloms. .
The objective of this sport is, for the dog, to succeed in crossing all obstacles as quickly as possible and without making mistakes (refusal, falling of obstacle, etc.). ( 1 )
To train his dog to succeed in an Agility course, the master has little choice but to have access to obstacles similar to those offered in competition.
If you have a lot large enough to install a removable course, this is the opportunity to acquire a kit to train your companion and share beautiful moments of complicity!
The different elements of an Agility kit
If the Agility rules only allow three categories of obstacles, each of these categories includes several distinct elements that your dog must be able to understand.
Jumps are obstacles that require your companion to relax well and to be able to control their power and appreciate distances correctly.
There are four types of jumps offered in the Agility course: hedges, walls, tires and long jumps.
Hurdles are the simplest obstacles visually, very similar to those that we observe in equestrian competition.
They can measure from 25 cm to 60 cm high depending on the category in which your doggie competes, this being relative to its size at the withers and / or to its breed.
Some courses have double hedges, spaced 30 cm to 50 cm depending on the category.
The walls are solid obstacles, which may or may not be embellished with tunnel-shaped openings.
They can measure 25 cm to 60 cm in height depending on the category in which your dog competes, for a depth of at least 10 cm at the top.
Removable elements, quite similar to tiles, are placed on the upper part of the wall.
Tires are hoops that can be placed in frames ranging in diameter from 45 cm to 60 cm.
Finally, the long jumps are made up of 2 to 14 elements with a depth of 15 cm.
The zones are platforms on which your dog must progress more or less in balance.
There are three kinds of zones in an Agility course: walkways, swings and palisades.
The walkways are small narrow bridges on which the dog must walk without falling.
The swings are very similar to gangways, with the difference that they only have a central leg which allows them to tilt when the dog passes.
Finally, the palisades are composed of two inclined ramps that your dog will have to move up and down with agility.
The “Others” category
The “Other” category mainly includes flexible tunnels and rigid tunnels – which can be straight or curved – as well as slaloms.
The slaloms aim to test the agility and speed of your dog, but also his obedience and his intelligence, because he must have perfectly understood the exercise to perform it without faults.
The flexible tunnel
The flexible tunnel is made up of a part supported by poles and an exit folded back on itself, in which the dog must make its way.
The rigid tunnel
The rigid tunnel is fully supported by poles, allowing the animal to move forward without having to find its way.
Choose your Agility kit
There are two kinds of Agility kits: those approved, generally intended for professionals, and those not approved, less expensive and preferred by amateurs.
Whichever you choose, be sure to choose a kit made up of secure obstacles that must fall easily in contact with your dog to avoid falling and injuring him.
The Agility accessories must absolutely guarantee the safety of your doggie during training, as in competition!
Most Agility accessories are fully adjustable, so it is not always necessary to choose obstacles based on the size of your dog’s withers.
However, it is important to take into account the category in which your dog is supposed to compete to make him a course adapted to his size and his aptitudes:
Is reserved for dogs measuring less than 37 cm at the withers, except the Shepherds of the Pyrenees.
This category also includes the Boston Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, even if they measure more than 37 cm. Dogs in this category will face the lowest obstacles.
Groups dogs measuring between 37 cm and 47 cm at the withers.
Counts all dogs over 47 cm at the withers, as well as Border Collies and Belgian Shepherds, whatever their size.
Is reserved for specific breeds, which I could not give you an exhaustive list here, but which includes among others the Cane Corso, the Akita Inu, the Wolfdog, the Great Dane, the Greyhound, the Rottweiler and the Saint- Bernard to name only the best known, as well as all cross dogs weighing more than 50 kg.
In order to recreate an Agility course which will allow your animal to train for possible competitions, I suggest that you consult the dimensions of the obstacles intended for the category to which your doggie belongs.
Your dog’s level
Depending on the level of your animal, you can choose to buy more or less complete kits to begin or test its attraction for this activity.
To start, the ideal is to train your dog in slalom and in the tunnel, the simplest exercises, which will also teach him to listen to you.
In a second step, you can start to teach him to pass hedges, palisades and walkways.
The progress of your animal will not be immediate, so you can start by acquiring kits comprising only a tunnel, studs or slalom stakes, even a hedge and a palisade.
Once your animal is more experienced, this will be an opportunity to add a swing, a wall and a ramp to your Agility course.
Of course, these indications remain general, as some dogs find exercises reserved for experts easy, and have more difficulty performing slaloms or weaving through tunnels.
Much depends on their character and their confidence in their master, but also on what amuses them the most.
After all, Agility is first and foremost an activity intended to distract and amuse your four-legged friend, isn’t it?
If you intend to take your dog to Agility competition, the purchase of a kit is almost essential for training.
If you are simply looking for accessories to carry out a fun activity with your animal, then you can turn to DIY, that is, the design of “house” obstacles.
Be careful not to build obstacles that could be dangerous for your animal!
All obstacles must be able to fall easily if your dog jostles them, and not contain blunt or slippery parts.
Frequently asked questions
When should a puppy start agility training?
Dogs usually take part in skill training competitions from 1 to 2 years old. Puppies and young dogs can get hurt by jumping over obstacles. Talk to your vet to find out when your dog is ready to try jumping. You can start training your dog before he’s old enough to compete.
How do you train a dog in agility tunnel?
The Agility Command Method
Prepare a short tunnel through which the dog can pass. Go with your dog on a leash through the tunnel, let him smell it and meet him. With your partner on one side of the tunnel and you on the other side, encourage your dog to call him.
Is agility training good for dogs?
Agility is a great exercise for your dog.
Running on a route where you overcome various obstacles is a challenge to your dog’s mind and body. Involving your dog in dexterity will help strengthen his muscles, improve coordination, keep him in good shape and increase his endurance.
Install an Agility kit for your dog
To install a Agility kit in the state of the art, you need a large enough ground to be able to properly space the obstacles.
All elements should be spaced approximately five to seven meters apart when arranged in a straight line, and approximately four meters when the path is S-shaped.
Obstacles must be properly fixed so that the stakes do not overturn when the dog passes, but so that the removable bars fall in the event of contact.
Vary as much as possible the type of obstacles present on your course, and remember to regularly modify the sequence of obstacles once your dog has mastered them all.
The design of Agility courses is in fact the sole imagination of the judges, and your doggie will discover the one he has to cross in competition only on D-Day.
He must therefore be used to chaining different obstacles to be prepared for any situation.
The best Agility dog kits
The Agility kits available on the canine market are generally dedicated to beginners and to initiation to this canine activity.
For a more complete and professional course, you will have to buy each obstacle to unity: it is an investment that I recommend only if your dog is a real fan of this sport and you intend to take him into competition.
ME & MY PET
The Agility Me & My Pet kit is ideal for beginners dogs who need above all to learn to listen to their master to correctly overcome obstacles.
Composed of stalom poles, a tire and a hedge, this kit is designed to gently start learning this discipline to your faithful companion.
The majority of masters are satisfied with its value for money, and confirm the good stability of the obstacles in this kit.
If Agility may seem like an ideal activity to strengthen your bonds with your dog, I strongly advise you to wait until your companion has reached his adult size before starting to train him.
It is indeed a very trying sport, which can cause serious and lasting injuries in growing animals.
You can however start to accustom your puppy to Agility courses by letting him walk near obstacles, or discover tunnels and slaloms in moderation.
And you ?
Do you want to get started in Agility with your faithful four-legged friend, or are you already an expert in this discipline?
Ask us your questions or share your experience in the comments of this article!