Category: Dog Agility

Introduction to Dog Agility Class [VIDEO]

00Dog Agility, Dog Sports, Group Classes, Training, VideosTags: , , , ,

It’s no secret that dog agility is my passion. 2016 is going to be my 12th consecutive year of competing in this great sport. For several years, I’ve taught beginner dog agility classes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I decided to put together a video showing what I teach in this introductory class to give prospective students an idea of what to expect.

So, welcome to our Introduction to Dog Agility class!

Who should take this class?

My focus with this class is introducing the basic skills of dog agility: over, under, around, through, and on – with a variety of objects. These items have different textures, some of them wobble and tip, and others make noise. Some of these items are actual agility obstacles, like the bar jump, table, and tunnel. Others serve as stepping-stones to doing more complicated obstacles like the dogwalk and seesaw.

Introduction to Dog Agility class is a huge confidence booster for dogs. Penny, the lanky hound mix in the video, started this class just a few weeks after being adopted and totally blossomed in this four week class. On the first week of class, she didn’t even want to walk on the smooth lobby floor to get into the training area, and was tentative about most of the obstacles. On week four, as you can see, she was flying over jumps and investigating everything!

What about puppies?

This class is also a really great socialization opportunity for puppies, and you’ll see several cute pups in the video having a great time. Some veterinarians will tell you that only adult dogs should go to agility class, but that only applies if you’re working with someone who doesn’t understand how to modify exercises for young puppies.

Dogs under a year of age do not jump or weave in our agility classes. Equipment is kept very low to the ground so puppies aren’t launching off of equipment and landing hard on their still-developing joints. All of the exercises are done at the puppy’s pace – there is no luring or dragging.

How can I practice at home?

I focus on introducing exercises that you can practice at home, with stuff you already have in your house – couch cushions, trash cans, broomsticks, books, that sort of thing. Homework each week includes a trick to develop your dog’s flexibility and confidence, and build your training skills.

I pack a lot of fun into these four-week classes! If you’d like to join me in Providence, you can sign up online here. The only prerequisite is that your dog has taken a group clicker training class prior to starting agility.

Returning to the Westminster Kennel Club Masters Agility Championship

01Dog Agility, Dog Sports, My Dogs

Double Qualifying Score Rosette from Westminster Masters Agility ChampionshipOn Saturday, February 13th, Strata and I will be returning to the Westminster Kennel Club Masters Agility Championship in New York City!

We had a great time last year, earning two clean runs and finishing in 8th place in the highly competitive 16″ height class after the first two rounds. Because of the way the televised Finals round is structured, we did not get to move on because another Shetland Sheepdog had qualified ahead of Strata – but we knew the rules going into it, and had a great time anyway.

As WKC explains,

“The competition is divided into five height classes – 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24 inches, which refer to the height of the jumps in that class. Dogs compete in the class appropriate for their size. At Westminster, each dog will compete in two qualifying rounds – a Standard Agility course and a Jumpers with Weaves course. Scoring for eligibility to the Championship round will be the combined actual running time of both runs, plus any faults (refusal/run-out, wrong course, table fault, failure) and course time faults. Dogs will be placed in order of the lowest combined score within their true AKC jump height. The ten dogs from each height class with the lowest combined scores will move on to the televised Championship round Saturday evening, creating a field of 50 finalists competing for the coveted title of Westminster Kennel Club Masters Agility Champion.

The championship course will be a hybrid of the qualifying rounds and will be run as a ‘time to beat’ course, where the first dog will set the baseline time for the subsequent competitors.”

The televised finals round will be aired on Sunday, February 14th at 12PM EST on Fox Sports 1. (Watch it with your valentine!) For more information about television coverage, visit the Westminster Kennel Club website here.

This year, Strata has moved down to the Preferred 12″ height class since he is turning 9 this year. I’m eager to see how he fares in this different division. We had such a fun time last year – here’s the compilation video I made with our pictures and video: