Looking After Your Dog, Part Seven – Dog Agility Training
Dog agility is a sport in which a dog runs on a course, laid with intermittent obstacles, under the supervision of its owner or trainer. The sport made its debut as an entertainment event for spectators at the Crufts Dog Show in 1979, and has not looked back since then. Dog agility sport now enjoys immense popularity in England, Western Europe and North America. Dog agility is very much modelled on the show jumping sport of horses (equestrian), with a few additions of its own.
There are a lot many different variations of the sport. International rules and specifications have been laid out for the sport, and they require a supreme level of agility from the competing dogs. Trials, which are conducted by dog training clubs, are sanctioned by several national and international organizations. The required level of competence relates directly to the height of jumps and the size of obstacles in a dog agility course. Apart from the dog agility events held at the national/international level, the sport is also carried out at a lower scale in small districts and towns. Here, the rules might not be as stringent as they are at the large scale games.
In a dog agility competition, the obstacles are arranged in various course configurations as deemed suitable by the competition judge. The dog handler/trainer is supposed to direct their dog around the course in a progression predetermined by the judge. As per the rules of agility, the trainer may impart any commands but may not touch the dog or the equipment. Dogs are “faulted” for taking down a jump bar, taking obstacles out of sequence, running past or stopping before the next obstacle to be performed etc. Moreover, the course needs to be completed in a set time period, or the trainer may face a penalty from the judge.
In dog agility sport, dogs compete against other dogs of similar height. However, the configuration of the course may vary from one organization to another. Regardless of the course layout, the dog with the least number of faults and the fastest completion time wins the competition.
Dog agility training may start at an early stage of a dog’s life. This would help inculcate a sense of timing and discipline from the very start. Pamper your dog with praises, toys and treats so as to motivate it through the advanced levels of training. With proper training, your dog could very well win one of those popular dog agility competitions.