Introduction to Dog Agility

Basics of Agility  |  Breeds Involved  |  Ages  |  Training  |  Health-related aspects


Dogs must be at least 6 (UKC), 12 (AKC), or 18 (NADAC) months of age to participate in trials held under domestic rule variations and at least eighteen months of age to compete in trials held under international rules (USDAA and AAC).

Although agility training is best started with a young adult dog, some agility training can be appropriate for young puppies; this includes tunnel work, jumps lower than elbow height, and basic control training. Contact equipment work (i.e. A-frames, Dog Walks, and See-saws) should be delayed and/or kept very low until the puppy has developed the necessary physical coordination to negotiate a plank suspended above the ground.

Serious jumping and weaving work should be put off entirely until the puppy is much older. Because of the long term negative impact of jumping and flexing on mature, growing bones, owners are advised to research their breed thoroughly and only begin intensive agility training of this type when the dog is past the age at which the 'growth plates' are known to typically close for that breed. A very imprecise guideline for growth plate closure in mixed breed dogs would be 9 - 12 months for dogs under 50 pounds and 10-14 months for dogs over 50 pounds.

Most dogs are able to participate and do well in agility until they reach 8-10 years of age. Owners should then gradually scale back their training and competing to obstacle heights and classes more appropriate to their 'veterans' if they wish to continue at that point.


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