Dog agility is a fairly new sport originally created as entertainment at Crufts in the 1970s. But what’s in it for owner and dog?
WORDS Nicki Manning
Tearing through tunnels, and wild about weave poles - dog agility is one of the fastest growing dog sports. It’s a ‘sport’ that everyone, young and old can connect with, and have fun doing with their canine chum, whether the pooch is a young athletic Collie built for speed or a steady older Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Dogs love learning, they love the outdoors, and most of all they love doing it all with their owners. Once dogs are over a year and starting on lower jumps to ensure their muscles/joints don’t get strained, Dog Agility is perfect for bonding and building a greater rapport with your dog, as they watch every hand signal, every body language change, listen to lefts and rights… taking each piece of equipment with skill and accuracy – after weeks of enjoyable practice and learning. You and your dog are in perfect synch and become the perfect partnership.
Classes are sometimes in barns but often outdoors, which is clearly more fabulous in the warmer Spring and Summer months, but equally invigorating in the crisp Autumn/Winter months, where extra layers and scarves and gloves and waterproof everything are a must!
Once the various pieces of equipment – jumps/Tyre/’A’ Frame/Dog Walk have been mastered, dogs adore this brilliant sport. It’s a fantastic way to get fit, maintain your dog’s fitness, and your own and meet new like-minded friends. Often Clubs have a great social side too.
There’s no bigger buzz when you can run a 20 piece course and get a clear round – especially if there is a rosette as an incentive!
Agility is an activity that appeals to all. There’s clubs everywhere, from serious agility competing clubs to fun agility classes.
Nationwide, registered Agility Clubs can be found by checking out:
If you feel you’d like to have a go, there’s often “Have a go agility’ at Summer Country Fairs to try your hand and paws.
If you do get the ‘competing bug’, there are national competitions that are open to novices as well as experts All competitions are run by enthusiasts of the sport who welcome ‘newbies’ with open arms.
Whether you are a budding canine agility star or want to just have a go and just enjoy it- there’s also plenty of good quality affordable home garden agility equipment available to buy, either to practice at home in between classes or just have fun at home.
Good DIY kit that can grace any moderate garden and easily be packed away are available in outlets such as Amazon, www.JesseJump.co.uk or Pets at Home. There’s a mass of products to be tempted with online.
To make life easier and more enjoyable and get your dog more motivated there’s many items of doggy products that are a must for all.
Training pouches – a huge range from magnetic catch (Doggone treat pouch) (PIC?) to smaller drawstringbelt mounted pouches.
Some dogs are more motivated by toys than treats, so raggers, tug toys or treat balls are a great idea and work really well. www.Tug-e-nuff.co.uk
Keeping stock of good quality affordable training treats will always be snapped up. Dogs like to ‘work’ for great tasty treats.
Flyball is another growing sport, where dogs race over jumps at top speed activate a unit with a tennis ball and race back over jumps to return the ball. This is a top speed sport often enjoyed by fast Border Collies but also Labradors and Spaniels. Again there are various Flyball Clubs nationwide.
British Flyball Association have a huge amount of information on their website.
www.flyball.org.uk. Going along to one of their events will give you a true feel of the level of excitement.
Again there are Flyball kits available for home practice or to just have a bit of fun
For example Rosewood flyball machine
Flyball information is also available on www.agility.net.uk