Agility first appeared in England in 1978, as essentially a ‘half time’ show at Crufts. The creators based the demonstration on horse jumping competitions, intending to show off the dogs’ natural speed and agility. Dog owners and trainers looking for something new to do with their pets pricked up their ears and said, “Hey, MY dog could do that.” Thus the sport was born.
The breed standard for a PRT states that they should be ‘active & agile’ and these characteristics lend themselves well to agility training. See pictures at bottom of this page!
They compete in small agility which provides a course for dogs up to 1agility is for dogs up to 35 cm (350mm) at the withers. There are many local training clubs for agility who will be willing to help you find a club with small facilities.
It’s a timed obstacle course for a team that consists of a handler and a dog. The handler directs the dog through a predetermined pattern of obstacles.
A course usually has 12-18 obstacles, like tunnels, jumps, tyre, weave poles, and the big “ramp” obstacles collectively known as the contacts.
In a competition, the dog runs the course off-leash and the handler can’t touch the dog. The human half of the team relies on body language and, to a lesser extent, vocal cues, to tell the canine half where to go.
To compete at KC Agility events, first your dog has to be registered with the Kennel Club (if not a pedigree dog it has to be registered on the KC activity register). Your dog also has to be officially measured to determine which height they will jump. At the first measure an agility record book has to be presented with details on your dog including KC registration, microchip number, age, name etc. A second measurement must be undertaken 12 to 24 months after the first measurement.
Height categories are as follows:
Large Dogs, measuring over 430mm at the withers
Medium Dogs, measuring over 350mm and measuring 430mm or under at the withers
Small Dogs, measuring 350mm or under at the withers
The hurdle jumping height for small dogs is 30 cm, medium dogs 40 cm, intermediate dogs 50cm, and large dogs 60.
The contact equipment i.e. A frame, dog walk, seesaw are standard sizes for all height dogs (from small to large).
There is an agility website called ‘agility net’ (www.agilitynet.co.uk) which is a brilliant website to locate training clubs which are all across the UK as well as show dates and other learning activities. The Kennel Club website is also a valuable tool to find out about the sport and what you need to do to take part in this great sport.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
KC agility shows and non KC agility shows take place all year round, winter is normally in indoor equestrian venues (wrap up well normally really cold) and summer in outdoor venues.
Dogs must be a minimum of 18 months old to compete at KC events.
You will be amazed at how many dogs of all shapes and sizes and handlers take part in agility events and if you do decide to give it a go I know you will have a great time.