Here’s The Scoop on Dog Agility Pt 2

starting in dog agilityIn part one we discussed the benefits of dog agility as a whole for you and your dog as well as the roots of the sport. Now we are going to go a little deeper into one finger of dog agility and that is the competition end. We are not talking about hard core competing where you are running against other teams, but rather the more personal end. We want to talk to you about taking on the challenge of bettering your team and striving for titles on the way.

The only way to accomplish this is to attend dog agility trials. Trials are normally held on the weekends and are put on by a local clubs under the terms of their chosen organization. There are several main organizations that they can choose from including AKC, USDAA, NADAC, AAC and the UKC. Each is known for a specialty or format that they follow. AKC is more of the traditional setup while NADAC steers toward a focus on games and distance work. The best way to choose the venue you would like to compete in is to give them all a try.

One of the best ways to get your feet wet on the competition side is to go watch a trial or better yet, volunteer. Watching others is a great way to learn the ins and outs of trialing. Most trials are held in parks during nice weather and if available in covered horse arenas in inclement weather and are open to the public to watch. The atmosphere at local trials tend to be fun and casual. Trial staff and handlers will usually be happy to answer your questions, we love to see our sport grow, just be curious and not interrupt them when they’re at the ring preparing for their run.

After registration, the first step in competing that you will see is the walk through. Dogs are not allowed on the course prior to a run, but the handlers are. This alone can be very entertaining and worth the watch as handlers take their invisible dogs through the course muttering commands while doing original dance moves. However, pay close attention as this is the best way to assure you and your dog will take the best routes for your team on a course.

Normally the walk through is limited to 5-10 minutes and when the buzzer sounds, all handlers must leave the ring. The judge may have a question and answer time where course conflicts can be discussed and the judge may choose to walk the course themselves before the game starts making any desired minor adjustments. When the judge is satisfied, the first team is called into the ring. At the judge’s signal the team is ready to run at will. The team runs the course as fast as they can while avoiding mistakes that will cost them time penalties or faults.

Faults are penalized differently with each organization or game level, but there are common faults that run throughout dog agility. Knocking down jump bars, the dog not hitting the contact zone on with at least one toe on contact obstacles, going over the course time limit, dog passing the plane of an obstacle also called a run-out or refusal or taking the wrong obstacle.

When a team is able to complete a clean run without any faults and under course time, it’s called a qualifying run or a “Q” as well as getting points added to their official record. Sometimes the icing on the cake is when your dog not only “Q’s” but also earn a placing ribbon. If the time is really good, your team could earn a double Q. This gets you to your title goal even faster. With enough points, your dog will earn a title as a certificate of accomplishment that gets added to your dog’s name.

Even if you have no intentions of competing, participating in weekly classes will still give you and your dog huge benefits. And either way you will need to practice at home between classes to keep you team growing in the right direction. Affordable Agility has what you need for any direction you choose to go with your dog so CLICK HERE and order what you need to start your dog agility journey. Oh, and hope to see you at a trial proud of your teams abilities together.