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Awesome Agility!

Jumps! Weaves! Tunnels! Speed! What more could a fun-loving dog-and-handler team want? The sport of agility includes all that and more. Agility is the ultimate game for you and your dog and is one of the most exciting dog sports for spectators.

A dictionary definition of agility is “the power of moving quickly and easily.” In the world of purebred dogs, agilty is the name of the fastest-growing canine sport in the United States. In an agility trial, a dog demonstrates its agile nature and versatility by following cues from its handler to race through a timed obstacle course.

A judge sets up the agility course and determines the order of the obstacles. The handler and dog teams run the course one at a time and compete to see who can finish the course the fastest and with the fewest errors.

Diane Lewis ©AKC
The dog is off-leash and responds to its handler’s verbal commands and signals. The timer tells the handlers when they may begin. The time starts as soon as any part of the dog crosses the start line and stops when any part of the dog crosses the finish line. As each dog runs the course, the judge uses hand signals to indicate the faults or errors, if any, that the dog commits. A fault could be completing an obstacle out of order, knocking down a bar when jumping over it, skipping an obstacle, etc. The faults are marked on a score sheet along with the dog’s time.

Obstacles make an agility course challenging and fun. What kinds of obstacles can be in an agility course? Lots!

  • Dog walk
  • A-frame
  • Seesaw
  • Pause table
  • Weave poles
  • Open tunnel
  • Closed tunnel
  • Bar jump
  • Double bar jump
  • Panel jump
  • Tire jump
  • Broad jump
  • Triple bar jump
  • One bar jump
The number of obstacles per course and the amount of times each can be used depends on which level of agility you are competing in. There are three levels of AKC agility competitions: novice; open; and excellent. In an agility course for a novice or beginner, at least 13 obstacles must be used.

In the “You be the agility judge!” activity, study the agility obstacles, then map out your own agility course.