Agility is a relatively new sport on the horizon of the dog world that is taking that world by storm! The sport is right up the IG’s alley because it combines speed, agility and fun! Agility is like obedience in that exhibitors can make it as competitive as they wish. Some people get hooked to the sport by just “having fun” with their dogs at a class and surprising themselves by picking up a qualifying leg at their first trial. There are several AKC agility titles available. For more info on AKC Agility go to the AKC Agility Page.
The maximum score is 100 points and to qualify the dog must pass with a minimum score of 85 points and not
receive any non‐qualifying deductions. Three passing scores (known as legs) are required to earn a title.
The classes have a minimum number of obstacles such as A‐frame, pause table, dog walk, see‐saw, high jump, broad jump, open and closed tunnels, tire jump and weave poles. There is an allocated time to run each course. Point deductions are given for every second over course time, refusals, outside assistance, running the course wrong (out of set order) or jumping off the pause table before the mandatory 5 seconds. A non‐qualifying deduction (0) is given for knocking down an obstacle or jump, failure to perform an obstacle, missing a contact zone (jumping on or off the A‐frame, dog walk or see‐saw), handler touching the dog or obstacle or the dog fouling the ring.
The fun part of agility is the work. It is positively motivated and often at the trial you see the dogs motivated by just getting to run the course. Agility is great for the older dog because it teaches confidence with praise, praise, praise for each attempt.
When looking for help in training your dog, make sure to find an experienced instructor emphasizing safety techniques and using sturdy equipment. Make sure “spotters” are used (aides) when teaching the A‐frame, dog walk and see‐saw. High obstacles are always taught at a low height then gradually raised. Confidence and control is taught before asking for speed. Simple obedience commands are helpful, but not necessary when starting an agility class.
Another benefit to this sport is that the handlers tend to get into shape also. They must direct their dogs to the different obstacles. For IG owners, this means fast thinking because outrunning their dog would be very diffcult. Have fun!