So given that I have an agility section, obviously I do agility with at least one dog. Benny started agility in October 2014. We put him in agility because we wanted to see him jump high. Turn out that your dog doesn’t just jump whatever they can… they are measured and put into a jump class. Talk about a let down… 16 inches? That’s it? That’s it.
Woody started Agility about a year (and three months before his first competition) later because he is spoiled rotten and he gets to do everything. Woody learned very quickly because he is a Jack and now they both are in the same class level.
So I’m new to this obviously so I am just going to tell you some quick facts that I’ve learned along the way.
- New dogs are called “green”. Owners are “green” too.
- An agility “venue” is not a location. It is the organization. For example CPE, AKC USDDA, TDAA.
- An agility event/competition is called a “trial”.
- Trials are done by skill level and height.
- Each venue has different rules that must be followed.
- There is actually skill and practice required on the human’s part.
- Contacts are obstacles that usually have yellow on both sides. They require the dog to climb up or down something (Think dog walk, A Frame, teeter).
- The human is probably the one messing up.
- Dependent on your breed, it will be really easy or not so much.
- Most of the time you will not understand the spins, or routes required and you will trip and fall like a fool.
- People “walk”the course. This means they stick their arm out and follow the numbers as if they were running their dog. They try to get their footing and determine how they are going to run the course. Where will they turn? Will they make their dog slow down? Do they have options to do something different? Do they need to block the entrance to the tunnel? It looks funny. I was like “Yeah, okay. Whatever this is weird”. Well, I walk the courses now too.
Agility is actually really fun. However, I think one of the best things that comes from agility is the bond between you and your dog. They learn to read you, and you them. You create a connection that you are doing something together–its fun but they also need to stay with you and rely on you as the leader. You learn to control your dog and what they do. You also learn a hell of a lot about coordination which is really difficult. The best thing is that you have fun and so does your dog!
A lot of people think that you have to have a lot of practice to do a trial. Sure it’s nice but as long as your dog and you have a good connection and they know the equipment, you can most certainly try it out. The judges and other participants explain everything for everyone and you have time to ask questions. It’s actually a great learning experience just to watch. And basically if you try you can get a ribbon-trust me.
So it looks fun and it is fun! In later posts I will go over some key things I’ve actually learned at class and trials that I hope help other newbies in the agility world!