Agility Basics

What is Agility?

Dog agility is a fun sport for you and your dog. In competitive agility, teams of dogs and handlers negotiate a course of obstacles for speed and accuracy. Really, it’s the dog who negotiates the obstacles; the handler provides direction through the course using body motion, speed, hand and voice signals. The obstacles include different kinds of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and “contact obstacles” that the dog climbs or scrambles over. Agility is taught using positive, reward-based training methods so that dogs learn to love playing the game and working with you!

Who can play?

Healthy dogs (and people) of any age, size, breed or ability can enjoy agility. Puppies can even learn some basics, but should not jump while their bones are developing. Active working and herding breeds often take to agility the quickest, but all kinds of dogs enjoy the sport. Mixed breeds of all kinds are eligible to compete. Even if you just play for fun and never plan on competing, agility can improve a dog’s physical and mental well being, flexibility, coordination, confidence, and their bond with you. And it’s great exercise for you both!

How do I get started?

Jump right in! You can take an introductory training class with your dog, read about agility in books or online, watch videos on YouTube, set up obstacles in your backyard, or sign up for classes with any of the trainers listed here.

What are the differences between NADAC, USDAA and UKI?

NADAC Logo updateThe North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC) was formed in 1993 to provide North American dogs and their handlers with a fast, safe and enjoyable form of the sport of dog agility. NADAC sanctions agility trials sponsored by affiliated clubs. The purpose of a NADAC agility trial is to demonstrate the ability of a dog and its handler to work as a smoothly functioning team. With separate class divisions for Veterans and Junior Handlers and a variety of games, NADAC dog agility offers something for everyone!

To compete in NADAC, your dog must be at least 18 months of age and have a NADAC registration number. You can register online here.

Want to see what NADAC looks like? Watch this video!

USDAALogo-ThreeDogREAL_FUNUnited States Dog Agility Association, Inc. (USDAA), is the world’s largest independent authority for the sport of dog agility, with more than 40,000 registered competitors and more than 200 different breeds of dogs, including mix breeds. USDAA represents more than 150 affiliated groups conducting 1,000 days of events each year throughout the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Philippines, and Japan.

Organized in 1986 to introduce and “Promote International Standards for Dog AgilitySM patterned after the British standards for the sport, USDAA has evolved into an international organization with the most comprehensive and diverse certification program for dog agility anywhere in the world.

To compete in USDAA, your dog must be at least 18 months of age and have an USDAA registration number. You can register online here.

Want to see what USDAA looks like? Watch this video!

UK Agility International
UK Agility International was created specifically to provide agility competitors with a unique setting in which safety and fun for every dog is a key priority. Above all, the organisation aims to promote the growth of agility and raise performance standards by encouraging training in a competitive arena using reward-based training methods. This helps to improve dog and handler relationships and also helps create a friendly and relaxed environment for dogs, handlers, family and spectators.UKI Logo

Since its inception UKI has grown from strength to strength and now has over 14,000 registered Members, with around 1000 more joining each year. There are hundreds of days of competition available throughout the year, with all shows offering 11 jump heights and 4 levels, enabling competitors to compete against dogs of similar size and ability. The Select Option is designed for the new dog, dog recovering from injury, older dog, or breeds that may find their Regular height too challenging. Veteran classes are also available for older dogs and Nursery classes for the young or less experienced. Progression through the levels, both in International(Agility, Jumping, Games) and Speedstakes is achieved through a points-based system so every clear round is rewarded, encouraging consistency in each discipline.

Register with UKI online here:

Watch an interview with founder Greg Derrett: