Where does your dog go when you have to leave him/her during the day?

10 December 2010

Dog Sports - Agility

My favorite dog sport is, by far, the sport of agility. Created in the 1970s as a 'half-time' performance at the Crufts dog show, it has now rapidly gained popularity world-wide in just a few short decades. Although some athletic breeds (many herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds) are most prone to excelling at agility because of their speed and intelligence, it is enjoyed by people and dogs of all shapes, ages, and sizes. And, as the owner of a mixed-breed dog, I have always appreciated agility because it presents many opportunities for dogs of all kinds, not just registered purebreds (depending on the trial and the organization.) And, Gabe LOVES agility!

The main objectives of dog agility are speed (each team is timed) and accuracy on the obstacles, which are set up in various patterns to form a course. Faults in agility can include things like knocking bars off of jumps, missing contact zones (to be discussed below), missing an obstacle altogether, or running a course out of order. Dogs take both verbal cues and body cues from the handler (but no touching is allowed), so it is definitely a team effort between handler and dog.

Courses are set up by a judge or teacher, so each handler has a chance to walk the course and memorize it before running it with the dog. Trials can take place indoors or outdoors. This is an example of a course map, each handler-dog team starting at 1 and following the numbers in order:

Possible obstacles that can be seen on any agility course include the following:

1. Jumps or hurdles (can be a panel jump, broad jump, bar jump, double or triple jump, or tire jump.)

Gabe with a regular jump.

Gabe with the tire jump.

2. Tunnels (regular, or chute)

Gabe running a regular tunnel.

3. Pause table (dog must be in a 'down' position for five seconds)

Gabe on the table.

4. Weave poles (five to twelve poles the dog must weave through, always entering with the first pole on the dog's left shoulder.)

The poles, minus Gabe.

5. A-Frame (a contact obstacle in which the dog must make contact with the brightly-painted areas while both ascending and descending.)

Gabe on top of the A-Frame.

Approaching the contact zone.

Coming down the A-Frame.

6. The Dogwalk (another contact obstacle)

Making his way across the Dogwalk.

Approaching the contact zone.

7. The Seesaw or Teeter-Totter (the most difficult of the contact obstacles)

A slowed-down look at the Teeter and making the contact zone.

Whether it be for fun, or for competition, dog agility can be a great way to build confidence in your dog and provide much-needed mental and physical stimulation! For more detailed information on how to get involved in this sport, check out:

NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council)
AKC (American Kennel Club)


  1. oh he is so focused and looks so cute, great article and pictures!!

  2. very focused dog! have you taken him to any shows? how old is he?