8 Fascinating Tidbits About Dog Agility

Combining dogs and sports is nothing new. For centuries, dogs participated in fox hunts and other hunting excursions and dog sled racing has been around since the 1850s. While agility is only about 40 years old, it has quickly become one of the most popular dog sports. If you are one of the many dog agility enthusiasts in the world, you probably will enjoy learning the following facts.

1. Dog Agility Originated In England

Dog shows usually have a large amount of spectators, but there also tends to be a lot of downtime in between judging. To keep the event exciting, the promoters of the Crufts Dog Show in the United Kingdom asked dog trainer Peter Meanwell to create some type of dog jumping performance to entertain the crowd at the dog show. In 1978, Meanwell and his faithful canine companion showcased the first agility runs at the Crufts Dog Show and the popularity of the sport exploded virtually overnight.  

2. Dog Agility Officially Came To The United States In 1986

After the first events at the Crufts Dog Show in the U.K., it didn’t take long for the excitement to spread across the pond. Dog agility exhibitions were held in the United States in the early 1980s, but it was in 1986 that the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) was formed. It took only a few years for the popularity of dog agility to spread across the United States and Canada.

3. Dozens Of Countries Host Agility Competitions

Whether you live in Manila or Budapest, your dog can enter an agility competition. There are organizations in dozens of countries on just about every continent. While the majority of the organizations are located in North America, England and Australia, there are also organizations in places such as South Africa, Kenya, New Zealand, Slovakia, South Korea and many other countries. The only continent that has yet to enter the world of dog agility is Antarctica, where dogs actually are forbidden to reside.

4. Dog Agility Equipment: Past & Present

The first dog agility course included a pause table, which served as the starting point, finishing point and a crossover point. Other equipment included an A-frame, dog walk, tire jump, weaves, a see-saw, tunnel, one hurdle, a window jump and a collapsible chute. Today’s courses include many more jumps and many competitions do not include a window jump or chute. Otherwise, much of the equipment one saw during the first competition still exists today.

5. Facts About The First Dog Agility Book

In 1981, dog trainer Peter Lewis released the world’s first book about dog agility. This guide, titled simply The Agility Dog, was the first but definitely not the last. There are hundreds of dog agility books on the market today as well as dog agility magazines and plenty of agility blogs. Lewis was not only a dog trainer; he was one of the leaders in the development of the sport and even served as a judge for the Crufts Dog Show agility championships.

6. Hundreds Of Breeds Participate In Dog Agility

Just about any breed of dog can be taught to use dog agility equipment, and most breeds are welcome to participate at agility events, including mixed breed dogs. While some of the most successful agility dogs have been border collies, Australian shepherds and terriers, more than 150 breeds and mixed breeds have participated in agility contests with great success. Breed is less important than skill and energy level. If you have a healthy energetic dog, using dog agility equipment can be a wonderful option for you and your furry friend.

7. There’s A Movie About Dog Agility

If you are looking for a family-friendly movie and you love dog agility, you might consider watching “My Dog the Champion.” This 2014 movie features a cattle dog with little talent for rounding up cattle, who instead excels on the agility course. It’s not Academy Award fodder, but agility dogs around the world certainly would give this film four enthusiastic paws up.

8. Olly The Terrier Embodies The Spirit Of Agility

While dog agility can be competitive, it’s really all about having fun. Nothing expresses this sentiment more than watching Olly, an exuberant Jack Russell terrier, and his epic fail at the 2017 Crufts Dog Show. This handsome rescue dog stumbles and fumbles his way around the agility course, heedless of accuracy, yet filled with enthusiasm.

A wise writer once said, “if you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it badly.” Olly doesn’t just enjoy doing agility badly, he adores it, and that joy is what agility is all about. To check out his classic agility run, do a quick internet search for “Olly Jack Russell Tufts” and prepare for a moment of enchantment.

Using dog agility equipment is a blast, and is a fantastic source of exercise for just about any dog. If you need agility equipment, we have everything you could possibly need here at Carlson Agility. This includes all types of jumps and contact equipment as well as tunnels, chutes, weaves and much more. We also have a full selection of mini equipment ideal for smaller dogs and puppy training.