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Dog agility came to us from Britain, where it was used as an exposition during breaks at horse shows. As it resembles the steeplechase for horses (or an obstacle course for GIs!), it is entertaining, fast paced and fun to watch as well as to participate in.  Dog/handler teams negotiate an obstacle course made up of contact obstacles, tunnels and jumps of many configurations, in an effort to get a "clean run" in the shortest time.  Agility is one of those sports that fosters fun and camaraderie among those who compete - judges (who are competing rather than judging)  will offer novices tips on how to handle courses, more experienced workers help out those newer and less seasoned. Many of the competitors also help set courses and do other "steward" work at trials.  It's a very relaxed and enjoyable sport for everyone concerned.

There are several places to find information about dog agility, starting with the AKC.  All of GKCDTC's agility trials are under AKC rules for course size, configuration and equipment.  NADAC and USDAA are two other sites which you can find on the web - and the United Kennel Club (UKC) also has agility trials.

To learn agility requires no special skills.  Obstacles are introduced singly, with dog and handler firmly trained on each before any "speed" is required.  Contact obstacles, including the dog walk, the A-frame, and the teeter-totter require the most practice. While all dogs can do them, there are "contact zones" at the bottom of each of these that the dog must touch.  Training the dog not to jump too soon is a major issue in agility contact obstacle training.

Most dogs know how to jump, but many never have the chance to do a lot of jumping until they get into this activity. For this reason, jumps are set low and dogs encouraged to clear them well before moving to higher jumps.  After a few tries at each obstacle, jumps, tunnels and contact obstacles can be strung together in small groups of 3-6, so the handler can find the best way to work her dog.  Eventually, full courses are used and the speed is increased.


NA - Novice Agility
OA - Open Agility
AX - Agility Excellent
MX - Master Agility Excellent
NAJ - Novice Jumpers with Weaves
OAJ - Open Jumpers with Weaves
AXJ - Excellent Jumpers with Weaves
MXJ - Master Excellent Jumpers with Weaves

For more information about AKC approved agility titles visit the AKC web site.

The Greater Kansas City Dog Training Club holds agility trials in December and March. These are back-to-back trials (Saturday and Sunday) with both standard and jumpers with weaves competition.   If you have questions, feel free to call the club line. Someone will get back to you.