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Welcome to Agility. Just for Fun

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Heather (12 yrs old) learns the Dog Walk

This page is for people who would like to try agility on a casual basis, or who just want to see some pictures of dogs having fun. I've heard people say "I really like agility but" . . . my dog has dysplasia or I don't like competition or my dog is too old or whatever. In training sometimes the fun is killed by the attitudes of the participants, by instructors, or simply lack of shared goals. I have found agility to be very welcoming. Many instructors will be pleasant and inviting even if you are not planning to compete. For example, if your dog is physically limited many instructors are comfortable with simply saying do what you can do and modify the course accordingly e.g. knock down or drop jump bars to a lower height, skip the A-frame, whatever. If agility interests you, but you can't compete, or don't want to it still worth visiting a class and talking with the instructor.

Of course if you aren't going to compete you can do a lot of teaching and playing with agility on your own. Go slowly and carefully to avoid injury. Never force the dog onto any equipment. Keep it fun. I've included pictures of the equipment I use, pictures of dogs using it, and links to sources for classes. The average person can put together similar equipment without construction tools, without much storage space, and without spending huge amounts of money (although that's relative to the cost of competition equipment). My equipment was designed to transport in small car and still allow room for the dogs.

I must confess there is an ego boost that comes from practicing in front of people who have never seen agility. They think my dog Tanith is really great. Well she is, but she is also doesn't have the flash of some of the competing dogs. It doesn't matter, she loves it, and people love watching it. I like running Tanith because she takes such joy in playing the game. With plenty of bobbles, glitches and spectacular failures along the way we are gradually finding our way into the top levels.

I compete in standard agility with Tanith, and Tsuki but Oso and I do agility just for fun. Possibly sometime in the future Oso will compete, but for now we just enjoy getting out on the equipment. I have watched his steady improvement and understanding of the concepts. I suppose it isn't truly competition free. Instead of competing against another person and their dog, I compete against our previous performance. With Oso my goal is to get the best of him that he is capable of giving. Each dog gets an equal amount of time on the course. We are frequently joined by others who have no interest in competition, and who have never taken a class.

If you want information on the sport of agility then check out my agility links page. There are lots of sites with pictures, information on how to find classes and equipment, books, newsletters, discussion groups and more. The club closest to me is The Bay Team for Dog Agility so if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area that's the place to start to find classes.

Also see the book Do-It-Yourself Agility Equipment by Jim Hutchins or my own Agility Equipment page to learn how to create your own agility obstacles. For inexpensive ready-made agility equipment see Affordable Agility. For more resources see Agility books and videos available from Dogwise.

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