Be Prepared for Your First Dog Agility Trial

Dog Agility trialingThere is a lot of uncertainty when it comes time for that first dog agility trial. Are you ready? Is your dog ready? Is the world ready? The hard answer is, you will never know until you venture out and give it a try. We do have one piece of advice for anyone new to dog agility and thinking they be ready for the plunge. We highly recommend that you find a trial or fun match to volunteer at. Oddly, there is a great shortage of help at most events and it is a superb way to get your feet wet without the added stress of your dog and competition.

On that fateful day that you have committed to taking your dog to the first event, again, it is helpful to attend a fun match or show-n-go to keep nerves down. From that first event you should get into the habit of making a checklist and packing the day before. This will keep your stress level down and give you time to collect any forgotten items. No matter how mundane some of these items may seem, you would be surprised what you can forget when your mind sets on that big day.

Here are some lists we have collected over the years from past competitors and viewer’s comments:

Dog Necessities

  • Collar and leashes – bring spares and know ground rules on collars. Most choke type collars are illegal.
  • Crates/x-pens for travel and containment at the trial
  • Tent or canopy for shade/rain
  • Water and food for your dog
  • Your dog’s bowls
  • Towels/blankets for drying and padding crates/x-pens
  • Paper Towels/Garbage bag for accidents in and out of the car
  • Small tarp to set crates on at trial
  • Portable crate fan
  • Your dogs toys/treats
  • Treat pouches
  • Poop bags, yes you need to clean up after your dog
  • Your dog’s registration papers for their first measuring
  • Copy of Shot Records and Certificate of Rabies vaccinations
  • Your Dog – don’t forget your dog!!

Your Necessities

  • A change of clothing, even underwear, seriously.
  • Extra shoes and socks.
  • First aid kit, aspirin, Tylenol, etc.
  • Food, water 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!
  • Sage advice – Your own toilet paper/tissue
  • Sun protection for you and your dog
  • Winter wear for cooler weather
  • Your sense of humor and tons of patience

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it is a good starting point. The biggest thing  to remember is to have fun. If things start heading south, pat your dog on the head, pack up and go home. This is not the time or the place to start a fight or major training session. Keep it light and fun for you both, you are setting the foundation for the rest of your agility career. It is just a trial, not the end of the world