Dog Agility Explained

Dog Agility is a fun and exciting sport for both dogs and people. It emphasizes teamwork where the handler directs the dog through tasks of climbing, jumping, and crawling over, under, around, and through various obstacles. In addition to giving the dog a better sense of balance, teaching him to be aware of where his body is, and building confidence, agility keeps the dog physically fit. Dog agility can be done for several reasons, including: fun, fitness, recreation, exhibition, or competition. In addition, it has also been used as a behaviour modification tool for a shy or timid dog in that it builds confidence and can eliminate shyness or fear of the unknown.

Agility is enjoyed by people of all ages and all kinds of dogs. Many clubs and organizations allow mixed-breed as well as pure-bred dogs, many also have junior handler programs as well as programs for senior handlers and veteran dogs.

Dog agility has now become a title event through several organizations, including the AAC, CKC, AKC, UKC, NADAC, and USDAA.

In Canada, Agility is now the fastest growing dog sport in the country.

At an agility trial, the courses are designed by the judges and the competitors only see the course on the day of the event. They are given a “walk-through” period before the event to learn the course and plan their strategy. Typically, a course includes 15 to 20 obstacles with allowed times of 30 to 60 seconds. Faults may be incurred for incorrect performance or taking obstacles out of order as well as for taking longer than the allowed time.

Competition classes are divided into three levels: Novice/Starters, Advanced/Open, and Masters/Elite. Teams can compete in local trials and then advance to regional, national, and international level competitions held by the various sanctioning organizations.

At this time, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) offers standard agility titles as follows:

  • Novice — AGN
  • Intermediate — AGI
  • Excellent A — AGX
  • Excellent B 3 AGMX

Dog agility gives you, the dog owner, a chance to get out and enjoy some good quality time with your companion and meet some great people along the way. The dogs truly enjoy doing agility, especially those high-energy dogs who need a job to do.

Agility Clubs & Associations

Note: Listings of local Agility Clubs can be found under the Dog Club Listings sorted by Province.

Ottawa Valley Border Collie Club

Photo credit: Ottawa Valley Border Collie Club

DEStar Dog Agility Equipment
Pet Obstacle Training Course Kit with Tunnel Adjustable Hurdles Poles Carry Bag

Agility Books, Accessories & Equipment

From the Ground Up - Agility

From The Ground Up – Agility Foundation Training for Puppies and Beginner Dogs

You might have a dog who you think will be a super-star on the agility course, but unless you work with him from the ground up, you may end up being disappointed. Author Kim Collins takes the position that there is a lot of training and relationship building that needs to go on before you ever begin to train the specific skills needed for agility. So this is the perfect book for you if you have a puppy or a young dog and are planning a career in agility in the future as it provides a complete training plan for both his pre-agility work and when he is ready to head out on the course.

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Flatwork - Foundation for Agility

Flatwork – Foundation for Agility

Flatwork is your agility foundation, teaching you how to handle and how to make all your body language clear, consistent, coherent, and timely while also teaching your dog how to take direction and stay with you on course.

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Foundation Fun and Games

Foundation Fun and Games: Play your way to agility success

In Foundation Fun and Games, Connie Sellers, who specialises in training young dogs and their handlers, has devised a series of games that work on drive and motivation. They also teach basic handling skills without the need for equipment. The games are based on 100 per cent positive training methods and abundant positive reinforcement, so learning is always a fun, enjoyable experience.

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Agility for Starters

Agility for Starters: From Zero To Hero In 101 Exercises

In this book, Connie Sellers, grade 7 international handler who specializes in training novice competitors, shows us everything you need to know to get started in agility. Whether you are completely new to the sport, or training a young dog, Sellers provides us with 101 exercises that take us through all aspects of the sport.

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Mastering Jumping Skills

Mastering Jumping Skills for Awesome Agility Dogs

Mastering Jumping Skills is a comprehensive jumping program designed to prepare your dog for the jumping challenges that he will face in agility. The program is appropriate for young dogs just beginning their jump training as well as for more experienced dogs that need to improve their skills. With a solid foundation and training, all dogs have the potential to become successful jumping dogs.

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Weaves that WOW

Weaves That Wow – Exercises To Improve Weave Poles

The weave pole homework drills presented in Weaves that WOW are designed to make the most of your training time. Many of us are in the habit of training the weave poles, yet we go out and perform them in the same way each time, and ultimately our dogs learn nothing new. The 94 progressive exercises are designed to ensure that your dog is capable of finding difficult entries regardless of his speed (or yours), train your dog to continue weaving with multiple distractions, and train him to weave fast and confidently even if you re not running parallel to the weave poles.

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Foundations Fun DVD

Foundations Fun!: Agility Is Just Another Game – DVD

The DVD includes tips on how to reward and how to put it all together into courses and take it to trials, while keeping everything fun, fun, fun.
Silvia Trkman has been in agility since 1992. She is a 14-time national champion of Slovenia, with five different dogs, and a 14-time World Team member, with five different dogs. Silvia has won the FCI Agility World Championships two times. Her training methods are best known for producing fast, happy, and healthy dogs, tight turns and, of course, running contacts.

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Xtreme Foundations DVD

Xtreme Foundations – DVD

The Xtreme Foundations DVD by Silvia Trkman covers extreme challenges for verbal discrimination, come to hand, threadles, pushes, obstacle discrimination, tunnel traps, and weaves. It comes with a 17-page PDF file that includes many different sequences, most of which require minimal space and equipment so that they are easy to implement in your training.

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Fun, Fast and Fabulous Weaves - DVD

Fun, Fast & Fabulous Weaves: Crazy Entries, Total Independence, Great Style – DVD

Fun, Fast & Fabulous Weaves shows the easiest way to train weave poles from zero to perfection, giving your dog a complete understanding of entries, independence, and the most efficient footwork, while making it all just another fun game. This DVD also offers plenty of ideas for improving the weaving style and speed of dogs that already know how to weave as well as providing them with proofing exercises to improve performance.

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