Discover the Sport
What is Agility?
The technical definition:
Agility is a sport that consists of an obstacle course that handlers maneuver their dogs through. In competitions the dogs and their handler must perform the course accurately in a pre-determined amount of time to pass the judge’s test. The course is always different. The dog with fastest time of all the accurate dogs is the winner.
The ACE definition:
Agility is a highly addictive and super fun sport that challenges you and your dog’s brain and body. It is intense teamwork. It is primo bond building. It is the ultimate high for dog lovers.
Who does agility?
Your everyday dog lovers and your hard-core athletes. Our students come in all shapes and sizes and so do their dogs.
What is the minimum age requirement for dogs to do agility?
We offer Puppy Classes (for dogs 4 to 12 months) on occasion. Any dog older than 5 months of age can take Pre-Agility, with few skills required. This class is a pre-requisite to our Beginners Agility Class. Dogs as young as 8 months old can take Beginners Agility Class. Dogs under 1 year will not do all the obstacles at full height for safety reasons. Contact us if you are not sure about your puppy’s skill level or take a private lesson for an evaluation. We can also evaluate a video of your puppy’s skills.
Can older dogs do agility?
That depends on the dog. We can modify the training so that older dogs can still play. In general, smaller breeds can participate longer than the larger breeds. Breeds not built for physical activity will have to retire sooner than the more athletic breeds. If your dog is older than 9 years old, contact us before enrolling so that we can best advise you.
What kinds of people and dogs are suited to agility?
Our students come in all shapes and sizes and so do their dogs! The sport has several jump heights to accommodate the smallest and largest of breeds and mixed breeds are more than welcome. Dogs that are not in good physical condition can work at a lower jump height until they get in shape! Handlers who are not in good physical shape will find many more just like them excelling at agility! We have students ranging in age from 12 to 75!
Do I need a private lesson before I take a class?
We have designed the Intro to Agility Class to answer the question, “Is my dog ready for agility class?” So enrolling in that class is a great place to start. If you have little training experience and we don’t have an Intro class coming up soon, book a private lesson.
My dog is aggressive or reactive around dogs. Can I do agility class?
It is not a good idea to put some dogs with low coping skills into an agility class. The environment is very stimulating and it can actually bring out the worst in dogs that are reactive. Better to get control over the dog before pursuing agility. Some of our trainers will work with milder cases in private lessons to prepare these dogs for classes.
My dog is NOT aggressive or reactive but he will not listen to me when he is playing with other dogs. Can I enroll in a class?
If you enroll in class and do not have control of your dog we can’t predict the outcome. Those students who roll up their sleeves and work hard to get the off-leash control will be able to progress in the classes. We have had plenty of students start the agility training without the control we would like them to have. Some are able to succeed and some are not. How much time you have to train and how determined you are to get control over your dog are the determining factors. We can help!
Can two people handle the same dog?
The sport is all about being in sync with your dog; the training creates a bond based on subtle understandings between dog and handler. It is much easier on the dog to be handled by one person only. For this reason some of our instructors prefer one handler per dog. If having 2 handlers is very important to you, let us know. We will match you with an instructor open to 2 handlers. It is critical that both people come to every class. You cannot send a substitute handler to class who has not been to prior classes and has not worked with the dog on a regular basis before coming to class.
Can I work two dogs in the same class?
Not in the early stages of training. If you want someone else you know to handle your other dog they will need to do the practice work as well. You are welcome to sign each dog up for his own class.
What if I am going to miss some classes. Can I get a make-up class or credit or refund for missed classes?
In short, no. Most people have to miss some classes, some people have to miss a class every session. We understand! Please remember you are purchasing a class session of 6 weeks. We do not offer single class sessions. Once you are at a higher level you will have more options to take make-up classes as we have more classes at that level to offer you. Availability and level are often the issue, which is why we cannot offer make-up classes to all students. We will do what we can when we can! If you are going to miss classes talk to your instructor about a make-up private lesson if needed and/or getting the homework.
What skills can I be working on before my class starts?
The main skill that will enhance your class experience is to have a “crate trained” dog. This means a dog that can settle in a crate while exciting things are happening all around. We recommend that you buy Susan Garrett’s DVD: Crate Games and follow her program (available at cleanrun.com). Enhancing your dog’s recall (come when called) and sit/stay will put you at an enormous training advantage. Lastly, teach your dog to heel on your right side as well as your left side. We need the dogs to work on both sides of our bodies.
Do I need to compete?
It is up to you. Dogs shine when they have an opportunity to do so whether they compete or not.
Sandy has produced three training DVD’s and a workbook. These items can be purchased at ACE in San Francisco or on-line at cleanrun.com
DVD: One Jump Two Jump
A comprehensive training program that includes everything that can be taught on just 2 jumps. Perfect for those without equipment or space to train.
WORKBOOK: One Jump Two Jump
The workbook that goes with the DVD. The PDF is available if you purchase the DVD. This book is bound and perfect to keep notes in as you train.
DVD: FEET FIRST!
Learn how to use foot cues to direct your dog on course. Packed with video examples of the most popular turn cues, you will also see Sandy teaching students her footwork exercises and cues.
DVD: The Extreme Dogs
This DVD is Sandy teaching at the Clean Run Instructors’ Conference. Intended for those teaching the sport of agility to the big, the small, the hairy, the bald, the bold, and the soft dogs.
Articles by Sandy
Sandy has been writing for the agility world’s popular publication Clean Run Magazine since 2009. We have put her best Clean Run articles into 3 categories for you: Training, Competing, and Handling. You will also see “Additional Articles”. These are intended for ACE students, but were never published.
Included here are a variety of video clips that include dogs doing agility and instructional tips.