What’s dog agility?

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Dog agility is a sport where dogs race through obstacle courses with handlers. Different hurdles include jumps, tunnels, and contact hurdles. All breeds and sizes can participate, but dogs must be at least six months old and healthy. Training is gradual and includes a reward system.

Dog agility is a spectator sport that involves dogs racing through an obstacle course while being led by a handler. The race is judged on the speed and accuracy of the agility dog. For each race, or trial, different courses and obstacles are used to keep the race challenging for both handler and dogs.

Some of the different types of common hurdles used in dog agility are jumps, tunnels, and contact hurdles. Single bar jumps where the dog jumps over a bar are common as are triple jumps where the dog jumps in a row. These are similar to jumps in horse events, but can also include tire jumps where the dog leaps through the center of a rubber tire.

Tunnels in dog agility classes include open and long closed cloth tunnels. Contact obstacles are present in dog agility and are angled and/or suspended boards on which dogs must walk or run. These contact hurdles have yellow painted ends that the dog must enter or exit through.

All dog breeds and sizes, from Chihuahuas to Dobermanns, can participate in dog agility. Border collies are especially known for being superb at weaving poles. The upright posts are spaced a certain distance apart and the dog must move through the posts quickly and accurately. American Kennel Club (AKC) approved mixed breeds are also eligible to participate in dog agility.

Most dog agility regulations state that an agility dog ​​must be at least six months of age to compete. Dogs should be examined by a veterinarian before getting involved in dog agility to be sure that the individual animal is healthy enough to participate in the sport without risking injury from a muscle, joint, or other problem. Agility training is done gradually to get the dog used to the sport and to increase the height of the jumps at a pace that is safe and comfortable for the dog.

Low contact hurdles are used to begin with and the handler accustoms the dog to a reward system of treats and praise. As the dog gains experience, more contact obstacles of different types and heights are introduced. The handler teaches the dog more verbal cues for direction during courses as the agility dog ​​gains more experience.

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