Does your dog love to run and jump? Do you enjoy being active and having fun with your best four-legged buddy? Then Agility might be the sport for you! Dr. Chicory Eddy has been involved in Agility for a number of years, and she took a moment to answer some common questions.
Does my dog have to be a herding breeding to do Agility?
Any size dog can play, from the tiny Chihuahua to the giant Great Dane, and everything in between. Mixed breeds are welcome, as well as purebreds. You get to direct your dog through a numbered course, or sometimes a course you make up yourself, made up of jumps, tunnels, A-frames, and other fun equipment.
At what age can I start training my dog?
If you have a puppy, start with a basic puppy kindergarten class. Then move on to more advanced classes and introduction to Agility once you have a good foundation. Puppies shouldn’t be allowed to jump till they are 12-18 months old, when they are done growing. But don’t worry, there are lots of other skills to learn in the meantime!
Agility is a sport that is played with the dog off-leash, so your dog does need solid obedience training before starting Agility.
If you have an adult dog and have a good basic obedience foundation, then you are ready to go into an Agility class. If the obedience could use a little refresher, then do that first, or at least concurrently with the Agility class.
Dogs do not interact with each other, but they do have to tolerate other dogs nearby. They also ideally need to learn to ignore the dog who is actually running in the ring, so they don’t interfere with that dog’s performance by barking or otherwise causing commotion on the sidelines.
Where do I find an Agility venue?
There are several different venues to choose from, each with their own style of courses and rules. The Portland area, and the Pacific Northwest overall, are wonderful for this sport, as there are six venues to choose from. Many people and their dogs compete in multiple venues. Check out: AKC.org, K9CPE.com, NADAC.com, USDAA.com, UKAgilityinternational.com, and k9tdaa.com. That last one is specifically for smaller dogs, with smaller equipment and shorter distances between obstacles.
Do you have any recommendations for an Agility trainer?
There are several trainers and training facilities around Portland. Check out
www.columbiaagility.org – they have several trainers and two training facilities in town, and also have links to many more trainers in the area under the “resources” tab.
There are lots of videos of Agility on Youtube. Check it out and see if you and your dog might find a new, fun, sport to play together!