Agility was first introduced to the UK at Crufts 1978 and the structure of the competition has not changed very much over the years. It’s a comparatively new form of dog competition, where the animal’s fitness and the handler’s ability to train and direct the dog over and through certain obstacles are tested.
It is fast, furious and a great favourite with competitors and spectators alike. Your dog does not have to be a pedigree dog to take part, but it must be registered with the Kennel Club on either the Breed Register or the Activity Register.
If you decide that Agility is a suitable activity for you and your dog, your next step is to receive some expert training. Whatever competition you choose, your dog will be a happier pet for being trained.
Once you start competing in agility it can become addictive. Shows are held all over the country for each Grade and height, giving you the opportunity to compete regularly and meet likeminded people.
As you enter different shows you might find yourself bumping into the same competitors and making good friends with the people who take part in this sociable hobby.
The formal requirements for competing in a Kennel Club licensed Agility show are quite simple:
Your dog must be registered with the Kennel Club, either on the Breed Register or on the Activity Register.
Competitors taking part in any Kennel Club licensed event must familiarise themselves with the Kennel Club Rules and Regulations beforehand. The Agility Regulations can be found in the Agility and Flyball Regulations booklet.
Dogs can only enter Agility shows when they are 18 months of age or over and have been officially measured and placed in the correct height category.
You will need to have an Agility Record Book (available from the Kennel Club online shop) in which to record your dog’s height category and all your competition wins and clear rounds.
Preparing your dog to be able to compete successfully will take a little longer than the formal requirements. It is essential that your dog is fully socialised and that you have effective control at all times, especially as your dog will be competing off-lead. For safety’s sake it is recommended that dogs do not start training on equipment until they are at least a year old.
Plenty of regular practice is essential preparation for Agility competitions, but supervised training at an Agility class is just as important. There are a number of training clubs across the country.