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Starting Agility

Agility is the fastest growing canine sport in the UK. In the sport, a handler directs his dog around a series of obstacles such that the dog completes each obstacle correctly and all in the correct sequence. At a competitive level, each dog is timed electronically and the dog that completes the course with a clear round in the fastest time wins.   

Book your first 121 @ The Win Venue by clicking on this link! Later, you may be able to join a class.

Is agility for you and your dog?

Agility is physically and mentally stimulating for your dog. For that reason, lots of dogs come to love agility. It can be a superb outlet for dogs from working and herding lines – dogs that were bred to do a job – but almost any dog can do agility.

There is no need for your dog to be pedigree or a particular breed to take part. Agility can be beneficial for dogs with surplus mental or physical energy – and can alleviate issues caused by frustration and boredom. Agility can also improve your relationship with your dog.

The vast majority of dogs can safely and happily enjoy agility. However, if your dog matches any of the following descriptions, please consult your vet before joining...
- Your dog is overweight or obese.
- Your dog suffers from a back condition.
- Your dog suffers from a joint condition, or another condition affecting one or more of his limbs.
- Your dog suffers from any other health complaints which may be exacerbated by vigorous exercise.
- Your dog has a very long back (for example, is a daschund).  

Agility classes are not designed to teach you how to train your dog basic obedience skills. In order to start agility, you should have taught your dog a good sit or lie down, a good wait, and a good off-lead recall. In order to join a class, your dog should also be happy to be around other dogs and people.  

How we go about teaching agility...    

1) Identify a reward for your dog - something your dog considers highly gratifying and which you can provide and restrict with ease.
2) Identify the specific critera your dog needs to meet to be rewarded.
3) Shape your dog's behaviour so that he will meet the criteria.
4) Enthusiastically reward your dog for doing so.
5) Repeat step 3 consistently, introducing a signal (verbal or visual, or both) that will prompt your dog to perform the required behaviour.

This method is not only kind, but is also easily the most effective way to train your dog. It's effective because if your dog wants his reward enough and you are clear about what behaviour produces that reward then he will do whatever he can to reproduce that behaviour in order to get the reward again!

Part of agility is about training your dog specific obstacle behaviours. But the other part involves you learning how to handle your dog - i.e. how you can use your body and voice to direct your dog from one obstacle to the next.  

More about agility

Here are some of the obstacles your dog will learn to tackle at agility:

The Jump
The dog jumps over the highest bar on the jump, between the jump wings, without knocking any part of the jump over. For safety, the bar is easily displaced, to reduce the chance of a dog injuring itself if it is knocked. Dogs of different sizes jump different heights of hurdle.

The Long Jump
The dog jumps cleanly over a series of low units, without knocking any of them over. The long jump is marked out with marker poles which are not attached to the long jump. Dogs of different sizes jump different numbers of units, therefore jumping different lengths of long jumps.
  

The Rising Spread Jump
The dog in one jump clears two separate hurdles positioned closely together, without knocking any part of either over. The highest bar on the first hurdle must be lower than the height of the bar on the second hurdle. Dogs of different sizes jump different heights of rising spread jumps.

The Weaves
The dog weaves alternately in and out of a series of poles set in a straight line. From whichever direction the dog approaches the weaves, he must always enter them from the right, with the first pole on his left. There may be a minimum of 5, and a maximum of 12 poles. The poles are spaced out evenly

The Tunnel
The dog runs through the tunnel, entering at the end indicated and exiting from the opposite end. 

The Soft Tunnel/Collapsible Tunnel/ Cloth Tunnel
The dog runs through the tunnel, making his way via the rigid entrance through the soft cloth. 

The Tyre/Hoop
The dog should jump through the tyre, which is suspended from a frame at a fixed height. The height at which the tyre is set from the ground varies according to the size category of the dog.

The See-saw/Teeter-totter
This is a plank mounted securely on a central bracket. The dog runs onto one end of the see-saw, tips it, and runs off the other end. He touches the contact areas marked in a different colour to the rest of the obstacle on either end of the plank.

The Dog Walk
The dog runs up one of the dog walk’s ramps, along its top, flat section, and down its other ramp. He touches the contact areas marked on the lower section of both ramps. The ramps are coated with a non-slip surface, and anti-slip slats are set at intervals along the sloping ramps. The dog touches the contact areas marked in a different colour to the rest of the obstacle on the lower section of both ramps.

The A-frame
The A frame is made up of 2 ramps, hinged at the apex. The ramps are coated with a non-slip surface, and anti-slip slats are set at intervals along them. The dog runs up one of the A frame’s ramps, over the top, and down the other ramp. He touches the contact areas marked in a different colour to the rest of the obstacle on the lower section of both ramps.

You may meet other obstacles, such as the wall and wishing well, occasionally in competition.


Book your first 121 @ The Win Venue by clicking on this link! Later, you may be able to join a class.


What size is my dog?

Different sizes of dog tackle obstacles set at appropriate heights. To determine the size of your dog (as determined by the kennel club), measure him once he is fully grown on a flat surface from the ground to the withers. Dogs are divided into three categories – small, medium and large.

 Large Dogs measure over 430mm (1ft 5ins) at the withers.

 Medium Dogs measure over 350mm (1ft 1.75ins) and measure 430mm (1ft5ins) or under at the withers.

Small Dogs measure 350mm (1ft 1.75 ins) or under at the withers.

If your dog competes, he will need to be officially measured by an approved measurer at least once before he takes part in his first competition.

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