What is agility?
The basic idea is for the handler to guide the dog around a course of obstacles as fast as possible using commands. The handler cannot use a lead or treats, or touch the dog. Like show jumping, the fastest dog with the fewest faults wins.
Agility equipment consists of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, long jumps, and contact equipment. The contact equipment (A-frame, see-saw, dog walk) has coloured contact points at each end. The dog incurs faults if it does not touch the coloured contact points with its paws.
Agility is great for keeping your dog fit and its good for you too. It is an ideal sport for the exuberant and fun loving Dalmatian, and you can do it together. You need a reasonably obedient dog that listens to you and who loves to enjoy him or herself. You don’t have to be super fit yourself either; there are all ages of people who compete with their dogs in agility.
How do I start?
Your Dalmatian needs to be fully grown and over 12 months old. Agility is very popular now, and there are lots of local agility training clubs, which can be found on the agilitynet website.
You can enter competitions if your dog is over 18 months old and you have been training for a while. Classes are graded from 1-7, starting with grade 1. To move up the grades you either need to win an agility class with contact equipment, or win 3 jumping classes. Classes can have over 200 dogs entered so just to get a clear round is an achievement.
Most importantly your dog will love to take part and it won’t give a moment’s thought to whether it wins or loses. It is a good day out, you are in the fresh air, meet lots of like-minded people, and you always take the best dog home.
So if you’re looking for something to channel your Dalmatian’s energy, try agility. You and your dog will love it!