Agility is just about the most fun a dog and a human can have together! It's a great confidence builder, is wonderful exercise for you both, and it develops many different skills, including attention to the handler, jumping ability, overall agility, and perhaps most important, teamwork.
Agility is something that almost any dog can learn to do well, regardless of body type or breed. And three out of the four national agility registries welcome mixed breed dogs!
There are three levels of agility classes offered depending on the skill of the dog and handler. All classes are 6 week courses limited to 8 students in each class.
New Beginner Agility Dogs need to have taken and passed a level 1 obedience class (at least) and can work off-lead with the owner/handler. Dog needs to be able to listen to owner/handler even around distractions (other people and dogs). If the dogs want to attend class and have not taken an obedience class they will need to be evaluated by one of the agility instructors before the class session has begun.
Intermediate Beginner Agility This class is for teams that have already attended the New Beginner class or teams that otherwise have instructor approval. Dogs must be proficient on all obstacles except the weave poles and teeter, but must already have been introduced to the weaves and teeter. Handlers should have established criteria for their dog's performance of other contact obstacles, and both dogs and handlers should reliably perform short (3-5 obstacle), straightforward sequences.
Advanced Agility This class is for teams that are competing or getting close to competing. We will work on skills and drills, plus courses for the teams that know all the equipment and all the basic handling skills.
Note: Students will be expected to help set-up, move and take down the equipment as required before and after classes. The 10 minutes allowed between each class is for this purpose. Please come 10 minutes early and be ready to help set up the equipment.
In agility, the dog negotiates a course consisting of jumps (singles, doubles, and triples, and even a tire jump), obstacles (A-frame, dog walk, and teeter-totter), tunnels (pipe and collapsed), and weave poles.
The course is different every time, and the difficulty increases as the dog moves up in each registry. In other words, an AKC Novice course or a USDAA Starters course will be less difficult than an AKC Open course or a USDAA Advanced course.
Course faults are called for various errors -- knocking a bar, off-courses, refusals, etc. Time is also a factor -- there is a standard course time set for each course, and the dog will receive time faults for going over this time.
There are many differences between the various registries, including jump height, standard course time, and overall difficulty.