Fundamentals of agility competition

Because each new obstacle course is unique in its own way, handlers are allowed a short walk-through prior to the competition. During this time handlers involved in a particular class can pass or run the course without their dogs, determining how best to arrange themselves and send their pets to achieve the most accurate and rapid path through the numbered obstacles. The trainer usually runs a path that is much more different from the dog’s way, so he/her often has to spend a lot of time planning for what eventually becomes a fast passing.

Agility dogs photo

Preliminary obstacle walk-around is crucial for a success, as the course track takes different turns, U-turns, 270° turns; may cross itself in the opposite direction, use already passed obstacles more than once, or have two objects located so close to each other, that the dog and handler are not always able to distinguish them clearly to choose the right one. The track as well can be arranged in a manner that the trainer should work with the dog in the distance, on the so-called layered or remote obstacles.
Example agility maps of the course
(Example: maps of the course)

Printed track maps in agility, called maps of the course, are for sure often available for handlers before the events to help them plan the strategy of the course. Map of the course includes icons, indicating the position and orientation of each obstacle, and numbers indicating the order in which you need to take them.

Each tandem «trainer and dog» gets the only chance to overcome the course successfully. The dog begins the distance from the starting line and then getting instructions from its trainer proceeds around the entire course from the beginning to the end. The trainer usually runs beside the dog steering it using commands and body language (the position of hands, shoulders and feet).

Because the speed is of the same importantance as accuracy, particularly at more complex levels of competition, the trainer has to run as fast as the dog.

Scoring of runs is based on how many errors or faults have been made. Penalty points can be caused not only by course faults, such as bar, knocked down in a jump, but also failures in time that make up seconds relative to the calculated standard time of the course, which is determined, in turn, depending on the level of competition, the complexity of the track and other factors.

Agility dogs photo

Course in agility can be left side, beginning on the lower left corner of the field, following clockwise along its left side to the opposite edge of the field, along its opposite edge towards the center and down, ending at the bottom center of the field. And right side agility course, beginning at the bottom center of the field, following clockwise, crossing its center to the opposite edge, then to the right and down along the right side of the field, ending in its lower right corner.