History of Agility – King of Dog Sports
Where it Began – The idea of agility was born in 1977 when Crufts Dog Show needed something to fill up spare time in the main arena between the end of the obedience championships and the start of the group breed judging.
Various dog training demonstrations were held over the years, some of which included dog jumping. The new demonstration had to be a nice to see test and it should be suited to the hard Olympia floor. The main idea of a dog jumping competition is based on the show jumping of horses.
Some people put their heads together and they came out with a test based on vast practical dog training knowledge and experience in working trials. Main factors that had to be kept in mind were : that it should be fun, without being dangerous and it should have to amuse spectators. They built the equipment.
Another club was contacted to form a second team of four dogs and they all helped each other with training ideas and modifications to equipment. And so the base was laid for the agility we know now.
Today, Agility enjoys enormous popularity in Britain, with well-attended competitions every weekend during the show season. The larger events draw thousands of competitors and attract huge, appreciative audiences – many competitions are televised. This enthusiasm for Agility has spread to virtually all of Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand, followed by the USA in 1986, making Agility a truly international dog sport.
Agility in Canada – Agility roots were planted in Canada by Art Newman, of North Gower, Ontario, in 1988, with the founding of the Agility Dog Association of Canada (Now called the Agility Association of Canada – AAC). Agility clubs are now firmly established in all major centres in Canada, and many smaller outlying areas.
Praise, toys and food are used to motivate the dogs from puppy stages through the advanced levels of training. Dogs are always encouraged to perform obstacles and never forced.
A Sample Fun Course
Below is an example of a Fun Course. For an official starters course the trial Judge is responsible for the course design. The Chief Builder and the Ring Stewards are responsible for the actual layout and building the course. When the course is built the Judge will check it, measure the distance between obstacles, and the overall course distance.
They will have the course adjusted as needed.
Puppies and Agility
Agility puppy training can start with dogs as young as 3 to 5 months! Granted, it doesn’t really There’s a lot of playing and silliness – but really, at any level of training, isn’t that what agility should be for our dogs?
FUN! Puppy agility NEVER physically stresses little puppy bones; so our young dogs don’t do any real jumping. They step over small obstacles that are only a couple of inches off the ground. We do a lot of target work to teach them to work away at a young age. Target work also helps our puppies to have excellent contact control! Puppies LOVE running through the tunnels And we do basic commands that help them to go DOWN on the table QUICKLY!
Puppies are so eager to learn and so happy to please. They really pick things up quickly. But the key to a successful training session is to keep the lessons SHORT and POSITIVE (kind of like their instructor!).
We also employ lots of rewards, from special food treats to toys and games (and lots of hugs). Once a puppy figures out an obstacle, they’ve GOT IT! And agility training works WONDERS for improving confidence in a shy puppy. The other huge benefit is the socialization these puppies are getting with each other; in fact, I think they look forward to the play sessions the most!