A Guide To Dog Agility

A Guide To Dog Agility

Agility is a fantastic sport that has gained a huge following around the world. Agility can benefit both dogs and their owners and it's great fun. If you haven't tried agility then you are missing out. Some dogs tend to do a lot better at agility than others. For example, Collies, Jack Russells, and Poodles tend to love agility. Dogs that come from a working background and are of a medium build tend to do particularly well. Working dogs are bred to do a job, so they work very hard at challenges such as agility courses. Agility also tends to really suit dogs that are very active and full of energy, as it is an excellent way to tire them out. If your dog loves to please you then they will most likely do well at agility. However, lots of different breeds of dogs take part in agility, and it really does come down to each individual dog and whether it suits their personality. Dogs can start basic training from an early age, for example, box work, going through tunnels and mastering basic moves. Clubs usually allow jumping, weaves, and contact equipment from the age of one.

What is Agility Training?

Agility is when dogs complete a course of 12-18 obstacles in a specific order as fast as possible. This includes dashing through tunnels, jumping hurdles, performing tricks, and more. Courses are complex enough that dogs cannot complete them with guidance from their handler, meaning the owner's handling techniques are just as important as the dog's obedience skills - it really is a team effort! Based on horse jumping competitions, training is designed to show off a dogs' natural speed. The sport grew in popularity after it became a half-time show at Crufts in the late 70s, and the idea was meant to be simple enough that any dog or owner with an interest could take part. Still, some breeds of dog are better built for agility training, such as Shetland Sheepdogs, Jack Russells, and Pembroke Welsh Corgis. This is because dogs with a medium build tend to perform especially well, as do animals from a working background or who are naturally full of energy. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean other dogs can't join the fun. Personality is a very important factor when it comes to triumphing at agility training. If your pet wants to please you, then they'll do their best to succeed!

What are the Benefits?

Agility training is an excellent way to bring you and your dog closer. You might already have a good relationship with your pet, but agility training can help make your connection even stronger. As the courses are too complicated for a dog to complete on their own, a common language needs to develop between a dog and its owner that relies solely on movement and vocal ques. Not to mention you'll have to work together to develop strategies that play to your furry friend's strengths and hide their weaknesses. Besides firming up the relationship between you and Fido, there are other benefits to agility training.

Does your dog have too much energy? Agility training will help to tire both their body and mind. It's for this reason that agility training can also help with behavioural problems, as the main cause for said issues is usually boredom. If you give their brain as work out as well as their body, they'll be a lot more chilled, and your furniture will be safer from doggy-related damage too. It'll also test how reliable your pet is once they're off the and teaches your dog to respect you. After all, if they enjoy doing what you tell them at the agility track, they'll be more likely to listen to you at home too.

And if you're planning on bringing more furbabies into your home, you'll already be a better dog trainer. Finally, it's just a really cool hobby you can rattle off at dinner parties or for when you need to make small talk. We bet most people would rather spend time watching videos of your dog mastering an agility track than talking about the weather.

Agility is a brilliant activity to get your dog involved in. It's great for high energy dogs that have a lot of energy to burn. Agility provides a fun activity for your dog, and it's beneficial for owners too. It involves training your dog to navigate through various obstacles around a course. If you are thinking of trying agility then read on to discover the numerous benefits of taking your dog to agility classes.


Agility provides excellent exercise for your dog. They will get a good workout from an agility session. It will help to keep them fit, athletic and healthy. Agility is good for dogs who need to lose a few pounds or any dog that could benefit from a bit more exercise.

Mental Stimulation

Dogs really have to use their minds when taking part in agility. They have to figure out how to get through certain obstacles such as running through a tunnel, leaping over a jump and weaving in and out of poles. Agility is particularly good for dogs that need a high amount of mental stimulation to keep them content and happy.


Agility is great fun for you and your dog. You will love seeing your dog enjoying themselves so much and seeing the benefits they get from agility.


Your dog will get to socialise with lots of other dogs while they take part in agility. They will also get used to being around lots of people in a social situation.


Agility helps to work on your dog's obedience. They need to be calm and under control and follow your lead if they are to successfully complete the course. It's a beneficial training activity that will help with overall training.

Increase Your Bond

Agility is a wonderful way of increasing the bond between you and your dog. You have to work together as a team and this means you will feel closer to your dog and very proud of them when they perform well.

Mimic Natural Behaviour

Dogs in the wild naturally have to overcome certain obstacles, jump over things and find ways to get where they need to be. Agility encourages dogs to display natural behaviours that are similar to what they would need to do in the wild.

Agility equipment

Agility requires quite a lot of equipment. You can buy agility equipment to use at home if you have space. However, a lot of people go to an agility club where there is a big course laid out. An agility course is normally made up of between 17 and 20 pieces of equipment. Including, jumps, tunnels, weaves, a frame, dog walk, see-saw, tire, wall, long jump and spread jump. Contact equipment (a frame, dog walk, and see-saw) have a section at the bottom of the equipment that the dog must touch before they jump off. If a dog fails to touch the contact they are given 5 faults. Weaves are a set or six or twelve poles that the dogs must weave in and out of. They must always enter on the right-hand side of the first pole.

Agility competitions and scoring

At competitions, handlers are often given a course map in advance so they know exactly how the course should be completed. Each course can be very different, so handlers are allowed to walk through the course beforehand. The course has to be completed both quickly and accurately. At the start, the dog waits at a starting line until the handler instructs them to begin the course. Handlers run with the dog, directing them where to go. This is usually done using hand signals, body language and also verbal commands. The scoring for agility is based on the speed in which the course is completed (whether the dog manages it within the standard course time) and also how many faults the dog receives. The aim is to complete the course without faults. Faults can be given for knocking a pole, missing a contact, coming out of the weaves, or going past a jump. If they do not complete the course in the correct order they get eliminated. That includes going over an obstacle in the wrong direction.

Agility clubs and organisations in the UK

The two main organisations in the UK are the Kennel Club and UK Agility. The Kennel Club starts at Grade 1 and goes up to Grade 7. UK Agility goes from Beginners to Novice to Senior then up to Champ level. There are lots of different agility clubs across the country you can join.

Dogs that struggle with agility

Agility is not ideal for all dogs. Some dogs simply aren't interested, and others can't take part due to their physical build or health issues. For example, Great Danes are very large and struggle with the athleticism needed for agility. Brachycephalic (dogs with flat faces) breeds also struggle because they often have difficulty breathing, and agility can prove too strenuous. Dogs that are seriously overweight, very elderly and have severe health issues also shouldn't take part in agility unless a vet has given the all clear. The best thing to do if you are unsure whether your dog would be suitable for agility is to call up an agility club and speak to an expert. You can also go for a trial class to see how your dog gets along and to determine whether they like it.

Dog Agility Training - Beginner's Guide

Looking for a fun way for you and your dog to be more active together? Well then, agility training might just be the answer! Agility is a great sport that has a huge following for a reason, and can be a wonderful bonding experience as well as way for your furry friend to keep fit.

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