Choosing A Dog Agility Organization
If you’ve invested several months in training with your dog agility equipment, you and your dog might be ready to begin heading out for competitions. There are several organizations throughout the United States that host competitions, and each one is unique. Here is some basic information that might help you make a decision.
1. Consider Your Dog
In general, dog agility is open for most healthy dogs of a certain age. Some organizations restrict specific breeds or mixed-breed dogs, but most do not. If you do have a mixed-breed dog, it is important to ensure that the organization you choose allows these dogs to compete. Fortunately, most organizations categorize dogs by height, age and experience rather than worrying about breed.
Your dog’s age can be a factor to consider. Different organizations will have different age restrictions. For instance, some organizations begin allowing dogs to compete at 15 months of age, while others require a dog to be 18 months old, it all depends. Also if you have a blind or deaf dog, not all organizations will allow these dogs to compete, so be sure to find an organization that does allow these dogs to participate. Amputee dogs also might be ineligible, so if your dog is missing a limb, be sure to check out this as well.
2. Consider Your Location
There are many different organizations, but they might not be hosting competitions in your area. Unless you and your dog don’t mind extensive road trips, it can be a good idea to select an organization that has contests that are within easy driving distance if possible. In some cases, you can join a local agility club and these clubs are sometimes not affiliated with one single organization, but actually host trials for several different groups. This can be a great way to get a feel for which organization will be your best bet.
3. Consider Your Dog Agility Equipment
Each organization will include many different pieces of dog agility equipment, and there are a few pieces that are pretty standard throughout all of the groups. For instance, all groups will include a pause table, although heights vary from organization to organization. A-frames, dog walks and teeters also are fairly typical and most also include a tunnel. The collapsible chute, however, has now been banned by several groups, so this might be dog agility equipment that you don’t need to incorporate into your training.
There are many different types of jumps that are included in a dog agility competition, and this is where you tend to see the most differences between organizations. Make careful note regarding the types of jumps you will find at your group’s contests as well as the jump heights. For instance, if you have a small dog or a young or old dog, you will want to ensure that the jump heights are safe for your dog. Sometimes smaller jumps will be found only in novice or senior divisions. It’s important that you are familiar with jump heights as well as all of the dog agility equipment that might be included on the competition course.
3. Consider Your Training
Everyone has a different training style, and certain organizations are a better fit for different styles. Some dog agility groups are more focused on fun, while others are more highly competitive. Some groups allow training in the ring, while others do not. Some groups feature tighter, more difficult courses with shorter course times and some are just the opposite. For instance, the UKC course times tend to be longer than other organizations simply because its focus is more on accuracy than speed.
4. Organizations For Your Consideration
As stated before, sometimes it’s wise to simply join a local agility club that caters to contests from several different organizations. This allows you to learn about each group and talk to other dog agility enthusiasts about their experiences. The main organizations in the United States include the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United Kennel Club (UKC), Canine Performance Events (CPE) and the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC). There are also groups just for very tiny dogs and for specific breeds, such as the Australian Shepherd Club of America. Each of these organizations has its own comprehensive website where you can learn about requirements and the types of dog agility equipment used on each group’s courses.
If you need dog agility equipment, we feature a huge selection of equipment that is used by all of these organizations. This includes all types of jumps as well as contact equipment, weave poles and helpful training tools. Check out our selection, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email.