Agility is a sport that builds a relationship between a handler and their dog. It can be an activity just for fun, or for those with a competitive edge there are agility competitions running on most weekends all around the UK.
There are various organisations in the UK that run regular agility shows, the most popular of which are The Kennel Club and UK Agility. Both organisations run regular shows and have their own individual progression process. Local agility clubs can also hold their own un-affiliated shows, which is very common especially in the winter months. So if you wish to compete, either for fun or progression, you can find your nearest show on www.agilitynet.co.uk
A typical agility show will have two main types of classes on the day; Agility where the course will include all types of agility equipment and then Jumping, which doesn’t include the contact equipment. There may also be a ‘special’ or ‘games’ classes such as the Steeplechase class which is a course made up of only jumps and tunnels. All classes are split into dog heights – small, medium and large. For more information on measuring click here
A-Z of Agility Equipment
The A-Frame, as the name suggests is two ramps vertically off the floor in an A shape. The dog climbs one side and will go down the other, making sure both contacts are made on either side, which will be marked in a different colour.
This is made from three long planks that are about 3.6m long and 25cm wide. As with the A-Frame the dog makes its way from one side to the other of the dog walk, ensuring contacts are made at either end. We start with this very low to the ground when initially training new dogs, but the height will be raised as the dogs confidence grows.
Hurdles are the most common jumps found in an agility or jumping course and what we start beginners on. Mostly these are found with just a single pole, but sometimes can be made up from several poles, depending on dog height.
An agility see-saw is close to what you will find in a playground. A plank pivots in the middle over a fixed bracket and moves position with the dog runs over, always returning to its correct position. Along with the weaves, this can also be a hard piece of equipment for a dog to master.
In agility there are two types of tunnel, pipe and flat. The pipe tunnel is bendable and can be set-up straight or on a curve. The flat tunnel has an arched solid entrance, with lose material at the end, which the dog will run through.
Considered one of the most trickiest of agility equipment to master. The weaves are a series of poles, normally six or 12 that are set up in a straight line and the dog weaves through. Dogs must go into the weaves with the first pole on their left, regardless of if the handler is on the left or right side.