AGILITY TRAINING - WHAT TO EXPECT
What is agility?
Dog agility is an activity where a handler directs a dog through a varied course of obstacles. The obstacles include jumps of different types, tunnels, ramps, weaving poles and a see-saw.
Dogs run off-lead and must be directed to each obstacle by voice, hand and body language. Courses are complicated enough that a dog could not complete them correctly without human direction.
As a competitive sport, this is done in a race against time. It can be a fast, physically active sport. But many people just have fun running the courses without any competitive aim other than to do better than last time. The dogs love it.
In competition, a handler must assess the course, decide on handling strategies, and direct the dog through the course. Strategies exist to compensate for the inherent difference in human and dog speeds and for the strengths and weaknesses of different dogs and handlers.
Agility training complements obedience training in building a happy and motivated pairing of dog and handler. It cultivates a working relationship.
What are the requirements to start our agility classes?
Small and midsize breed dogs must be 12 months old, while large and heavy-set breeds must be 15 months. Waiting for this level of physical maturity is important to ensure the dogs are not injured because their joints are still insufficiently developed.
All dogs starting agility should be physically sound and be of suitable temperament. The handler must be able to demonstrate an acceptable level of off-lead control. This can be by graduating from our club’s Obedience Class 2 (ie you’d probably be in Class 3 or 4). However, new members who have trained elsewhere can be assessed separately.
How are our agility classes structured?
Agility training starts in our Foundation classes. We consider the dog and handler as a team. The Foundation classes are designed to strengthen the connection between the handler and the dog. If more than one person is going to handle the dog, you will have to put in more work out of class.
Agility Foundation-1 class runs for 8 lessons. Allowing for holiday long weekends, and the occasional absence of our instructors at competition agility trials, this means we start a new Foundation-1 class at about 10-weekly intervals. Check our website’s “Events” calendar for info on when the next Foundation-1 intake is scheduled.
Teams who have been diligent in practising their Foundation-1 training (we can see) then graduate to our Agility Foundation-2 class which runs for a further 8 lessons. So Foundation-1 and Foundation-2 commence on the same days and run at the same time.
By the end of the 16 lessons totalling Foundation -1 and Foundation-2, your dog-handler team should be generally competent (although not yet reliable) with all the apparatus. You will probably be running sequences of 10 to 16 obstacles having your dog sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right. You would probably be capable of competing at a trial should you desire to take that route.
On completion of Foundation-2 level, teams who have again been diligent in their training can graduate to our Intermediate class where the degree of difficulty rises. The number of obstacles increases, and the path taken through the obstacles can be more tricky.
If the agility addiction has by then really taken hold, and you have progressed to competing at trials, our Advanced class beckons. You would then be working on how to control your dog though the obstacles at a greater distance, how to go faster, and how to be more reliable going through the weave poles.
In the Intermediate and Advanced class sessions we can tailor the training session to emphasise what you wish to achieve with your dog. If you wish to trial in competition levels, our instructors will work with you to improve performance. But if it’s just a load of fun you want, you’ve also come to the right place!.
Sunday Training Times
Advanced Class (Dogs Entering Trials)
7:00am setup to 9:00am
9:00am to 10:00am
Foundation-1 and Foundation-2
10:15am to 11:15am