Agility

Jump to: Class Overview | Prerequisites | Signing Up | Competing in Agility | More Information

Delilah competing in Jumping
Delilah competing in Jumping

Agility is a competitive dog sport where you and your dog work as a close-knit team to successfully navigate through a course of agility obstacles within a set time limit. Agility obstacles include different types of jumps, tunnels, weaving poles, and ramps. All jumping obstacles have 5 different heights so that tiny to large dogs can compete at a suitable height. The obstacles are set out in such a way that you and your dog must work together to complete the course successfully.

Your responsibility as a handler is to direct your dog around the course using your body and verbal cues. Your dog’s responsibilities are to perform each obstacle correctly and to follow your directions around the course.

An agility trial may have several different types of events. Agility events use all the obstacles whereas Jumping events do not use the contact equipment (dog walk, see saw and a-frame). To run courses successfully takes many hours of training and discussion with your fellow agiliteers at BDOC.

Any breed of dog can do agility. Dogs need to be fit, healthy, not overweight and responsive. Formal obedience training is not a prerequisite, but enthusiasm and focussed attention to the handler are really important. Dogs need to be able to work off lead in an exciting environment with other dogs close by without exhibiting reactive behaviour. Handlers need to be fit enough to run for short distances and must be physically able to help carry and set up equipment before and after class.

Class Overview

Mirri jumping through the tyre
Mirri jumping through the tyre

Agility training times are Monday and Wednesday evenings and you must be available on both these evenings. As you progress, you will move through the different class levels which can be held on either of these two evenings. Humans can come to agility training once they are over 12 years of age and accompanied by a parent. Parents can help to set up the agility equipment, some of which is too heavy to be carried by a child.

BDOC agility classes will teach you how to:

  • Motivate your dog to want to do agility with you by using rewards that your dog loves
  • Teach your dog how to safely navigate each type of obstacle at speed
  • Train your dog to follow both body and verbal cues while you both move as fast as you can around the course
  • Move your body through different turns and positions so you can show your dog where to go

Prerequisites for Potential Agility Teams

  • Your dog must be at least 10 months old before it is placed onto the agility waiting list. The reason we have this age limit is very simple – your dog may be jumping and running at home, but agility training puts a lot of pressure on both bone and muscle structure. Training, if overdone on a young dog, could result in future health problems. For the first few months of agility training, dogs and humans are undertaking their foundation agility training and dogs are only jumping on very low heights
  • Much older dogs can certainly take up agility but remember, it takes time to learn this sport and dogs older than around 8 years of age may find it more difficult as they would be around 10 years old before they are ready to compete
  • You and your dog must have completed Bronze level of the Canine Companion classes. These classes teach you important foundation exercises that assist in building a solid relationship with your dog. If you have undertaken training at another club you should email the agility coordinator so your team can be assessed for entry to agilty classes.
  • Dogs must be physically fit and without hip, back, or joint problems, and must not be overweight - agility dogs are canine athletes and need to be fit and healthy
  • Handlers must be able to move at least at jogging pace - speed in agility is not just the responsibility of the dog!
  • You must be able to attend classes on Wednesday evenings
  • You must have assisted at an agility trial prior to beginning training - this will provide you with a good understanding of agility. You will be given details of trials in the ACT while you are waiting for entry to a class
  • Only one handler per dog is allowed, and it must be the same handler eack week
  • Junior handlers (12 years and up) must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who will also be required to assist with setting up and packing up equipment
  • Agility is a light hearted and fun dog sport, which will throw challenges at both of you. But it is not an easy sport and success will not happen overnight. As well as attendance at the weekly classes, you will need to spend some time training foundation skills at home using some simple equipment such as cones and jumps
  • If your dog is very reactive to either dogs or humans then agility may not be for them, as it is an off leash activity

Signing Up for Agility

Max and Kat practicing contacts in class
Max and Kat practicing contacts in class

BDOC runs two or three intakes for agility each year. When your dog is over 10 months of age and you have obtained your Bronze Canine Companion Certificate, you must complete an Agility Waiting List form at the BDOC office. Please be aware that you may have to wait for several months before you are contacted and offered a place in a class. While waiting for agility class to start, it is essential for you and your dog to continue your Canine Companion classes to further develop your dog’s focus, general obedience and social skills, all of which will help you and your dog in your agility careers.

If you have already undertaken some agility training at another club, please email the agility coordinator to discuss joining a class.

Competing in Agility

To compete in a formal agility trial, humans must be at least 12 years of age and dogs must be at least 18 months old. BDOC has agility handlers aged from their early teens to their seventies. Likewise, BDOC agility dogs in trials range in age from 18 months to 11 years of age. Most agility teams commence trialling after between 6 months to 2 years or more of training. It is best not to rush into trialling but to make sure that both you and your dog have good foundation skills and are sufficiently confident to enjoy your runs in a trial.

More Information

The best way to appreciate agility is to watch an agility trial in person. You can see teams competing at different agility levels (Novice to Masters) as well as competing in various agility events. There are a number of agility trials run in ACT each year, click here to view the Dogs ACT calendar of events.

If you'd like to watch a class to see agility in action, you can drop into the BDOC grounds on a Monday or a Wednesday evening during sessions. The agility instructors will be pleased to answer your questions.

There are plenty of agility runs posted on YouTube. If you view high level agility performances (such as the World Cup events or championships), be aware the teams competing in these events have been training and competing for many years. You may prefer to search for and watch novice agility runs which will give you an idea of what you might be doing when you first start competing.

If you have a enquiry about agility at BDOC, please contact our agility coordinators by email.

Delilah competing in Jumping
Delilah competing in Jumping
Mirri jumping through the tyre
Mirri jumping through the tyre
Max and Kat practicing contacts in class
Max and Kat practicing contacts in class