Agility for dogs – where to start good training?

April 3, 2023
Dog Training
Agility for dogs - where to start good training?

Active people have no less active dogs. The best way to maximize your pet's abilities, direct his energy in the right direction and achieve complete mutual understanding is to participate in competitions. Agility is the most popular sport for dogs. It requires good coordination, reaction, flexibility and, of course, obedience.


How did it all start?

Agility for dogs is a fairly young sport. The first competition was held in the UK at Crufts in 1978.

Overcoming the obstacle course by the dogs delighted the audience, and from that moment on, agility competitions became an integral part of the show, and later gained popularity in other countries.

The creator of agility, as well as the organizer of the show, John Varley was a passionate fan of equestrian sports. Therefore, it is believed that it was equestrian competitions that were taken as the basis.

What is agility?

What is agility?

Agility is the overcoming of an obstacle course by a dog. This is a command sport, a dog and its owner take part in it, who gives commands and directs in the right direction.

The main thing in this sport is contact and complete mutual understanding between man and animal, as well as good training, since the cleanliness and speed of the route depends on this.

Agility courses consist of various obstacles that must be completed in a certain sequence.

These obstacles are of various types:

  • Contact obstacles – those that involve direct contact of the animal with the obstacle itself (usually a slide, swing, tunnel, and so on);
  • Jumping obstacles, that is, those that involve the dog making a jump (barrier, ring);
  • Other obstacles. This includes agility equipment such as slalom (parallel sticks arranged vertically in a row that the dog snakes when passed) and square/podium (a fenced or raised square platform on which the dog must freeze in one position for a certain amount of time).

Experienced handlers take into account the individual and breed characteristics of each dog, as well as its "guide". This allows you to achieve good results and successfully pass the track.

There are various agility competitions and certificates that are given for the successful passage of the track several times in a row. These competitions have their own requirements, marks and penalties for mistakes.

How to start exercising?

If you decide that both you and your pet like a sport like agility, you first need to teach the dog the basic commands. This will help you get in touch.

After you have completed the initial training course, you can start training agility. It is best to attend classes at one of the canine schools, as they usually have special areas for agility. Also, group classes will help you and your pet learn to focus and work in conditions when there are many distractions around (people, dogs, noises).

Try to diversify your workouts so that your pet does not get bored and does not lose interest. Remember that you can not scold him for the wrong passage of the projectile, and even more so beat or shout, because for the dog agility is entertainment and a way to give free rein to the accumulated energy. It is better, on the contrary, to praise the pet as often as possible when he does something right. Then training will be associated with fun and joy in the dog, and he will be happy to do everything you say.

Agility is available to every dog, regardless of its breed and age. After all, the main thing in it is not speed and victory, but the connection between the dog and the owner and the pleasure of both from spending time together.

Dog breeds for agility

Dog breeds for agility

Agility is a very democratic sport in which dogs of any breed and even mongrels can take part. No documents confirming the pedigree are required to participate in competitions. The main requirement for a dog is the ability and desire to follow the orders of its owner. In addition, in order to successfully overcome obstacles, it must be light, flexible and nimble.

Young and adult healthy dogs are allowed to compete (with the exception of pregnant women), but agility classes are recommended for pets over 1 year old, since their bones are already formed and the risk of injury during exercise is significantly reduced. What breeds are suitable for agility?

Although formally any dogs can participate in competitions, not every pet shows the qualities necessary for this sport. The most popular in it is the dogs of shepherd breeds (Border Collie, Shelti, Australian Shepherds, etc.), since historically they spent a lot of time with a person in commandwork and they developed the closest contact, they are easier to train.

However, this does not mean that other breeds of dogs are not suitable for adjility – all pets are individual, so the success of training depends not only on their innate qualities, but also on the ability of the owner to reveal the potential of his ward. In Adjility, a division is adopted depending on the growth of the dog at the withers.

Dog classes

As a rule, these are the following three categories:

  • S (Small) – for dogs whose height at the withers is less than 35 cm;
  • M (medium) – for dogs from 35 cm (inclusive), but less than 43 cm;
  • L (Large) – for dogs from 43 cm at the withers and above.

In each of the categories, there are the best breeds for adjility, characterized by the most optimal set of necessary qualities. Animals of various categories are never mixed with each other either in training or in competitions, since various obstacles are installed for them. Spitz most often participate in class S, in M – shelti, in L – Collie Worder.

The latter are considered the fastest, in this regard, many breeders try to withdraw dogs of this smaller breed to participate in competitions S and M class. The competitions themselves occur in increasing – first the animals of class S are involved, then M and complete L, while the height of the obstacles increases.

Types of obstacles in adjility

The route for the competition is a complex of consistent obstacles. The rules can be established different sizes of shells in adjility, inclination angles and other parameters. At the same time, their general form and principle of action remain unchanged. Depending on the nature of the interaction between the dog and the obstacle, shells for adjility are divided into the following varieties.

Contact obstacles

Such obstacles of adjility suggest the presence of direct contact zones with the body of the dog:

Dog classes

  • The hill consists of two shields connected at an angle, raised in the upper part by 1. 5-2 meters above the ground. The contact zone of the obstacle is painted yellow or red, and cross bars are fixed on its surface, making it easier for the dog to move. To overcome the hill, the handler usually uses the commands "Hill! "Or "Home! ".

Dog classes

  • The swing is made in the form of a board that rotates around the base when the dog moves from one end to the other. In order for the animal to run up to the obstacle, the balance of the shield shifts slightly towards one of the ends. To overcome the swing with a dog, domestic trainers use the “Kach! ” Command.


  • Boom is a type of slide in which a horizontal board is located between inclined surfaces. It also has a yellow or red painted contact area and cross bars. At this obstacle, the handler gives his dog the command "Boom! ".

Dog classes

  • The tunnel is made in the form of a barrel-shaped short manhole, to which is attached a long fabric part with an open end (soft tunnel), or a straight and winding rigid pipe (hard tunnel). In both cases, the commands "Tun", "Tu-tu" or "Down" are usually used.

Jump obstacles

To overcome such obstacles, the dog must make a high or long jump:

Dog classes

  • The usual barrier consists of two vertical posts with an easily knocked down bar located between them. The dog must jump over it at the command "Hop! ", "Bar", "Jump! "Or "ap".

Dog classes

Agility for dogs - where to start good training? passionate fan of equestrian

Agility for dogs – where to start good training?

  • A ring is a kind of barrier in the form of a circle (tire, hoop) fixed in a frame on a support. The dog must overcome it by jumping through the hole at the command "Tire! "Or "Circle! ".

Dog classes

  • The dog performs a long jump through several parallel benches (platforms), without hitting any of them with its body or paws. At this obstacle, the handler uses the commands "Hop! ", "Bar! ", "Jump" or "Up".

barrier fence

  • The double barrier is also a variation of the usual one, but consists of two parallel bars. To jump, the command “Hop! ”, “Bar! ”, “Jump” or “Up” is given to the dog.

Barrier-fence Source: Agility for dogs - features, types, rules, suitable breeds

  • The barrier-fence is made in the form of a solid wall, on the upper edge of which there is an easily knocked down overlay that prevents injury to the dog. To overcome this obstacle, the same commands are usually used as for other barriers – "Hop! ", "Bar! ", "Jump" or "Up".

Other obstacles

This group includes projectiles with which the dog interacts in various ways:


  • Slalom is a series of 12 racks located on the same line, through which the dog must run with a “snake” around each. For this task, the handler gives the pet the command "Trrrrr" or "Hop". If the latter has already been used to overcome the barrier, it is necessary to choose another one – you cannot use the same commands in agility on fundamentally different obstacles.


  • Podium (square) is a square platform raised to a height of 2-75 cm with a side of a meter length, on which the dog must run and stop for a time set by the judge (in a sitting or Down position). The square performs the same function as the podium, but is performed simply in the form of a base area fenced around the perimeter.

Agility classes

 agility classes

To date, the FCI rules have established two official classes of agility competitions.

  • Standard. This class is a classic agility sport that includes overcoming obstacles of all three types. For beginners, a platform with 15 shells is used, while for experienced participants their number can reach 22.
  • Jumping. A feature of this class of competitions is the presence of only jumping obstacles and a starting platform. Depending on the specific competition, the agility course can also be supplemented with tunnels and slalom. Due to the lack of contact projectiles that slow down the movement, jumping dogs develop the highest speed.

Also, competitions may include the following types of agility, not approved by the International Cynological Association.

Joker or Jackpot. This competition is divided into two periods:

  • During the introductory dog overcomes obstacles at the discretion of the handler, earning points;
  • In the final, the animal must overcome in a short time successively a series of obstacles chosen by the judge.

The difficulty is that in the second period the handler must not cross the line, which is drawn at a distance of 3-6 m parallel to the obstacle course, thus he has to control the dog from a distance.

Snooker. Developed on the basis of a billiard game, this type of agility involves overcoming numbered obstacles – three red ones for jumping with the number 1, and six other types, numbered from 2 to 7.

The competition is divided into 2 stages:

  • On the introductory dog passes the first one of the red obstacles with the number 1 and one of the additional ones with the numbers 6-7, then this is repeated with the other two main obstacles;
  • At the final stage, the dog must pass obstacles numbered from 2 to 7 in order to score additional points.

Relay race. At this competition, 2-3 commands of handlers with dogs sequentially pass the obstacle course located on the agility bestdogfood.Expert (each its own section), passing baton to each other.


Samuel Carter author About Author