Agility is a fun sport for dogs and Handlers to get fit together. Dogs are required to negotiate an obstacle course through hoops, tunnels, weaving poles, A-frames, dog walks, seesaws and jumps - all within a set time limit. The obstacles are numbered, and the dog needs to follow the directions of the Handler and attempt each obstacle in the correct order. No two courses are the same! The sport requires a good rapport between dog and Handler, which results in perfect teamwork.
Dogs of most sizes and breeds can take part in Agility, provided they are fit and healthy. The height of the jumps is set according to the height of the dog - lower jumps for smaller dogs, higher jumps for bigger dogs.
Before taking part in Agility training, dogs should have some basic obedience, in particular a reliable sit/stay, and good recall. While dogs of any age can start to learn the basic skills for Agility, young dogs should not commence full height jumps until their joints and bodies are fully developed, which may be one year old for small breeds or two years for large breeds.
In an official Trial (competition), a dog must achieve a “clear round” to get a passing score - meaning not knocking down any of the jump bars; taking the obstacles in the correct order; placing at least one foot on the coloured “contact area” of the dog walk, seesaw, or A-frame; and completing the course within the time limit. When a dog has successfully achieved the required number of passes at a particular level, the dog is awarded a “Title” which can be indicated by specific letters before or after the dog’s name.
The particular requirements of Agility are laid out in official sets of Rules, which are produced by the Australian National Kennel Council, the administrative body for pure breed canine affairs in Australia. Within Agility, there is a Jumping Class where the course consists of jumps and tunnels only. In addition, there are Rules for Agility Games - which includes a number of different variations. In Snooker, the Handler can choose which obstacles to complete, with each obstacle worth a different point value. In Gamblers, the dog gains extra points for working and following directions at a distance from the Handler. In Strategic Pairs, two dog-and-handler teams are on the course at the same time and take turns to complete the obstacles.
Noarlunga City Dog Obedience Club offers Agility training by experienced Instructors - check the Training Page for class times.