...is the fastest growing dog sport in the nation. If you have ever seen jumping events at horse shows, you will have an idea of what agility is like: brightly painted and strategically placed obstacles, a fast pace and an exciting exhibition of teamwork.
Agility requires that the dog and owner be in perfect sync as there is no leash or collar used during competition. The owner directs the dog with only voice and/or hand signals; thus basic obedience and a strong rapport between dog and owner is a must. As in horse show jumping, there are timing requirements in agility competition and certain faults will result in a lower score.
Agility is a strenuous sport. Precautions should be taken to ensure proper conditioning and training so as not to injure a young or out-of-condition dog. Young dogs should not jump as the stress on immature legs and shoulders could cause injury. An experienced agility trainer should be able to properly guide you and your dog through the necessary training.
Almost any dog can do agility. Giant breeds may not be as fast or agile on the turns as a smaller breed, but there have been Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs and Newfoundlands who have successfully competed in agility. The most popular agility breeds are those that are quick on their feet -- Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, etc. -- but almost any dog can take part in agility.
Information on AKC licensed agility clubs and competitions across the United States is available via the AKC website: www.akc.org.
Agility is not just a sport for Purebreds! Non-registered purebred dogs may obtain an ILP number from the American Kennel Club, enabling them to compete in most AKC licensed competitions including agility.
And of course any dog, including mixed breeds, may take part in agility training classes for sheer fun and excitement, and the challenge of learning to work with your dog in true partnership!
PHOTOS COURTESY OF COOKIE WAGTER.
[tire jump shown to the left]