GSD German Shepherd Agility Training
It all began in England, not so very long ago. Fashioned after horse Show Jumping, Agility made its debut as a demonstration in the UK at Crufts in 1978. Today, Agility remains the fastest growing dog sport. It is a sport that finds dog and handler teams leaving the agility course celebrating, whether they have qualified in their run or not. It is also very popular among spectators, the action is fast and it is always entertaining whether the dog does as the handler asks or not. It’s fun for everyone!
Agility courses are created with obstacles the dog must perform correctly. The judge predetermines the direction and flow that each obstacle must be taken and the handler directs the dog, off leash, through this obstacle course. They may cheer, clap, and call the dog through each obstacle as it best serves them. There are jumps of various make, climbing obstacles, weave poles, tunnels, and a pause table. Each course is timed and the dog that finishes with the fewest course faults and the fastest time wins. This rule varies according to the sanctioning organization of the trial you are attending.
Jumps can include winged or wingless hurdles, and a panel or wall jump. The spread jumps; include the double bar, triple bar, and broad jump. A suspended tire jump can also be found among the jumps on the course. There are other specialized jumps, such as the water jump, brush jump, and wishing well, which can also be seen on an agility course depending upon the class and the sanctioning organization.
The climbing obstacles are also known as contact obstacles. Usually made of wood, they include the Dog walk, A-Frame, and Teeter. The dogs negotiate each obstacle by climbing over them and they must touch the yellow paint known as the contact zone at the ends of each board. This is a built in safety feature for the dogs. They are not allowed to jump off the top of the A-Frame which can be 6’3″ tall at the apex. The teeter, or seesaw, is a moveable contact board. Most Chihuahuas travel up the board directly into the contact zone and then ride it down to the ground.
Â Weave Poles are a series of upright poles that the dog weaves in and out, between them all. Dogs must enter with the first pole at their left shoulder and then proceed down the line of poles until there are no more. The number of poles can vary. This obstacle usually takes the longest to train well.
Two types of tunnels can be found on an Agility course. Pipe, or rigid tunnels can be formed to make various shapes that the dogs run through. The Chute, or collapsed tunnel is made up of two parts. The entry portion is made of a rigid barrel on which a chute of material is attached. The overall length of the chute tunnel is 12′ to 15′. Dogs enter the barrel and burrow their way through the chute material to emerge on the other side. This is a crowd favorite when the little dogs go through. Tunnels are also considered a favorite obstacle by most dogs.
The Pause Table is a place to stop and take a break from the action. The top is a 3′ x 3′ square, that sits on a stand that it is adjusted to the various jump heights. Most Chihuahuas will see an 8″ or 12″ table, depending upon which organization has sanctioned the Agility Trial. The mount, and dogs pause on this table for a count of 5 seconds before proceeding on to the next obstacle. Not all dogs take kindly to this break in the action.
Various organizations have sprung up in the United States which sanction Agility trials. Each has it’s own set of regulations which determines what a qualifying run on each agility course means for the dog and handler team. Depending upon the organization, there are 4 to 5 jump heights for the various sizes of dogs. The shoulder height of the dog determines which jump height it should enter.
The successful completion of Agility courses under the regulations of the sanctioning body results in Agility titles for the owner. The dogs receive much praise, toys or goodies, for their achievements. They are always loved.