How To Survive Your First Agility Trial Part 1

I'll hold the list, 'kay?
I'll hold the list, 'kay?

Part 1: The List

First, congratulations, you’re there, you’ve trained hard and you made it, you are an agility competitor! So lets talk about how to actually survive your first agility trial experience.

It’s a good idea to pack your car the night before. Make a check list so you don’t forget anything. Here’s a list of stuff to consider taking with you, but you can add to this list or delete from it as you wish.

For your dog…

-Collar and leashes for your dogs – good idea to bring a spare.
-Tent or canopy if you need it for shade/rain.
-Water and food for your dog.
-Your dog’s bowls.
-Towels – I use old towels/blanket in my crates and they are also good to have if it rains.
-Paper Towels/Garbage bag – I had a dog that got car sick. I don’t travel without these!
-Small tarp, use as ground cover to put your crate on.
-Portable fan for the crate.
-A favorite toy or ball or tuggie for your dog.
-Treats/rewards for your dog.
-Your dog’s registration papers – you will need this when you get measured the first time. —    
-Record of Rabies vaccinations- many venues require them, so a copy of those is a good idea.
-Your Dog – don’t forget your dog!!

For you….
-A change of clothing, even underwear, seriously.
-Extra shoes and socks. (Nothing is worse than falling in the mud or getting soaking wet and you forgot extra clothes to change into, you will be miserable all day!)
-First aid kit, aspirin, Tylenol, any meds you need, etc.
-Food, drinks for you.
-A chair for you to sit by your dogs crate or ringside.
-A camera to record the event.
-Directions to the trial site – I forget these once, and got very lost!
-Some money.  Trial vendors have great stuff!

(Part two)

~ Thanks to Linda Freed at for the above entry~

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17 Comments on “How To Survive Your First Agility Trial Part 1

  1. Don’t forget to add poop bags to you list! You are responsible for cleaning up after your dog. I always carry 2-3 in my pocket so that I’m not without.

    • Definitely not! After the leash and the dog, they’re the most important things, it seems! They did list a garbage bag, but poop bags in addition to a garbage bag are a necessity. Thank you for your comment! 😀

  2. Also, especially for outdoor trials, bring your own toilet paper, or reasonable facimile thereof!!! At one trial, the maintenence staff forgot to replenish the bathrooms. I had a tiny roll of toilet paper in with some hiking equipment that I had in the car, but now I always carry my own, just in case! Baby wipes work, too, and they’re often in my dog supplies anyway.

  3. Other things to bring to trial: sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, hat or sun visor, (or gloves and warm hat), plenty of water for dog and you (and stay hydrated), treat pouch and/or jackpot pouch. I made a list early on and check it off each time. In Sacramento it helps to have 1 for summer and one for colder weather.

    Hanging out around a trail site is a great way for dogs to acclimate. It really is so different than class!

  4. Thanks again–We had our regular agility class this evening and my poor little girl fell off of the dog walk–of course on the opposite side that I was standing,so I couldn’t catch her–She seemed unphased by it but it made MY heart stop–She loves the dog walk and goes faster than she should-Plus I didn’t have her nails trimmed enough–So tomorrow is “pedicure Day” which she hates!
    Oh well-That’s life

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad she wasn’t hurt! A good time for the ‘easy’ command, huh? 🙂 …not that Quick listens or anything. and I hear you on the pedicure day! They see me get the clippers out and suddenly… I have no dogs!

  5. You are so RIGHT ! I did resort to covering her and that is what made the experience so much better than other times.Next time I’ll reward her by uncovering her, like you suggest instead of treats~~ Thanks so much for commenting:)

    • I treat, too! I make sure he has a really yummy treat to chew- so he isn’t bored in his crate. And when he makes noise, I cover him. When he’s quiet, I uncover him, slip him a milkbone and say, quietly, ‘good boy’. I recover him when he starts acting up and we’re doing really pretty good!

  6. My little mini Aussie Lizzi could possibly be ready for her first trial in April–And taking her to the local events here has helped sooo much–I’m working on getting her to stay in her crate and not go ballistic when I walk away–Today we did this and she did SO much better than even 2 weeks ago–And it’s great just to go and support your fellow Agility friends as they do their runs 🙂

    • I find that covering my dog when he starts to bark and uncovering him when he behaves helps a LOT. I need to invest in a nicer towel though, LOL, so it’ll not look so ratty!

  7. The two pieces of advice I was given before my first trial that continue to stick with me are:
    1. You will only ever have ONE first trial, so enjoy it for eveything.
    2. Make sure your shoes are tied.

  8. I would take my dog with me when you volunteer. Take him out often and do only fun stuff with him. Get there early…Put him in an area where he feels safe and knows you are close by to begin with (like his crate in the car). Come and go, treats, games, let him get used to the feeling in the trial area…there is nothing like it. NOTHING like class!
    Add to your list of things to take.
    Pepto Bismol, Imodium, soothing foods for yourself…your tummy will thank you.
    A book or knitting…even though you will be helping with the classes, it is nice to have something to escape to.

    • I hadn’t even thought of bringing other things! Thank you for sharing. Personally, I’d rather leave my dog home for at least the first time, but that’s because I know I wouldn’t be able to pay him as much attention as I should the first time out.

  9. I always suggest to friends that want to start trialing to go to a small local trial beforehand to volunteer, and not to compete. One, the club will be very grateful to have a volunteer for the day, and two, you’ll gain valuable experience on how trials run and what to expect your first time.

    • That’s always a really great idea! Plus you don’t have to deal with doubled stress of your dogs’ first trial and yours at the same time!!! Thanks for the suggestion.

    • This is fantastic advice! My wife and I volunteered for several trials before competing. I suggest (single) bar setter. You have the best seat in the house for both watching handlers and dogs. Most clubs will allow you to take a course may and possibly walk the course so you can do a mental run of your own while you work – just don’t get caught daydreaming if your bar goes down. Above all remember to have fun. As one person said, you only have one first trial.