in the late 70's to entertain the crowds at Crufts in the gap between
the end of the Obedience Championship and the Breed Group judging, it
was a huge success and soon became a competitive sport.
Agility is often referred to as "show jumping for dogs", but it is not
just about clearing a course of jumps against the clock. An agility
course consists of "obstacles" arranged into a course by the judge,
the competitors run their dogs around the course tackling each obstacle
in the correct order and competing for the clear round in the fastest
There is more to it than just jumps, there is also an A frame, a high
level dog walk, a rigid tunnel and a floppy tunnel as well as a table,
a tyre and weaving poles. The obstacles have "contact", areas at the
beginning and end of the obstacle, and the dog must tread on these otherwise
points will be lost. The contacts are painted a different colour to
make it easier for the judge to see whether the dog touches the contacts
If you want to start in agility with your dog you must contact a local
Do not attempt any agility training at home
without advice or instruction before hand - your dog and you could end
up with a severe injury!
Speak to the instructor, discuss your dog, the level of training you
currently have and any health or fitness problems that your dog may
suffer - agility is a physically demanding sport even at a fun level.
Ask if you can come to watch the training and talk to people with experience,
you may be invited to take you dog down so that she can be assessed
for fitness and obedience.
Most agility clubs have classes for beginners and if the instructor
is satisfied that you are ready to begin agility classes you will be
enrolled in the appropriate class. You will need good basic obedience
such as a solid 'down', 'wait' and 'come' before you are ready to even
start thinking about taking up agility at a fun level.
Training for agility should not start before the dog is 12mth old. They
are still growing and developing before this age, and any excessive
jumping or exercise will often result in injury to the dog. Some clubs
will allow you to walk you dog through jumps, to get them used to them.
Having to wait until your dog is 12mths old means you have plenty of
time to work on your basic obedience - perfect your dogs 'wait', 'down'
and 'come'. You could even work on commands to use for sending your
dog in a different direction, ie) left and right. Once a Border Collie
gets the agility bug... you will need all obedience and contro you can
muster! Work on it now!
Once you both have
the bug you may like to enter competitions.
To enter Kennel Club Agility Competitions:
dog will need to be registered with The Kennel Club on either the Breed
or Working Register.
Your dog will need to be at least 18 months old.
Your club will no doubt have people who compete and they will be able
to advise you on shows to attend, and help you to fill out your first
Above all, remember once you have the agility bug, it is very addictive
- but above all it has to be fun for you and your dog.