Agility is one of Gabe’s favorite “games” to play and he loves attending our weekly Chuckanut Dog Training Association class! There are several popular venues for earning agility titles with slight variations for what is required, but two of the most popular are AKC (the American Kennel Club) and NADAC (the North American Dog Agility Council) However you play the game it’s a blast for dog and handler alike!
“Look out! Agility crazed bulldog on the loose!!!”
To compete in AKC agility a dog must be at least 15 months old and have been officially measured to establish their correct jump height. Once the dog turns (2) years old they are issued an official (permanent) Jump Height Card after being measured by two different measuring officials (“VMO’s”). Clubs will usually have VMO’s available at their agility trials so that new dogs can be measured prior to the start of classes. While many breeds can compete at full height, AKC also offers “Preferred” classes for titling at slightly lower jump heights for heavier-bodied breeds such as Bulldogs. In the Preferred classes, dogs are also allowed an additional 5 seconds to complete the course. Top handlers often use this option for their senior agility stars as well–enabling them to continue participating in their favorite activity while not putting as much stress on their aging body.
There are 3 basic levels of agility competition, each level becoming increasingly more difficult with less time allowed to complete the course, and less room for error. The maximum score for the Standard and Jumpers With Weaves classes is 100 points. For a qualifying score a dog must earn at least *85 points (*Excellent B requires a perfect score of 100) without incurring any non-qualifying deductions such as:
- knocking down an obstacle or jump (or not clearing it properly)
- missing the descending contact zone
- leaving the pause table prematurely and taking another obstacle (dogs can be restarted on the table as long as they haven’t taken another obstacle on the course (with the exception of the Exc. B class)
- failing to correct a wrong course before the finish line
- the handler touching the dog at anytime during the run–or aiding the dog by touching an obstacle
- exceeding 20 seconds over the Maximum course time
The Standard courses have between 14-16 obstacles to complete with only six Weave Poles, and there is a 1-point deduction for every second over course time (rounded down to whole numbers) There is a bit more grace at this level and a dog is allowed 2 Refusal/Run-outs (these are not counted during the execution of the Weave Poles and you are allowed 3 attempts before moving on to the next obstacle), 1 Wrong Course and up to 2 Table Faults.
Jumpers courses have similar requirements except that dogs are allowed no Wrong Courses during their run (Table Faults don’t apply as these are not used in this class).
Standard courses have between 16-18 obstacles to complete, including the full set of 12 Weave Poles. There is a 2-point deduction for every second over course time, and for this level a dog is allowed no more than 1 refusal/run-out, 1 wrong course or 1 table fault (non-qualifying faults are the same throughout each level)
As at the Novice level, wrong courses are not allowed in the Open Jumpers classes.
The courses have between 18-20 obstacles to complete, and for Standard Classes there is a 3-point deduction for every second over course time (rounded down to whole numbers) Besides the regular non-qualifying faults in the previous classes, dogs are allowed no faults whatsoever, so they must perform flawlessly within the allowable time limit for the course.
For Jumpers in the A classes, dogs are allowed time faults (with a maximum of 5 seconds under time) but must run the course without any other faults to earn a qualifying score. In the B classes no faults are allowed.
The AKC offers three types of agility classes:
(click on the colored headings below to read more about each class)
The Standard Class:
This class includes contact objects such as the Dog Walk, the A-frame, and Teeter. Each of the contact obstacles has a “safety zone” painted on the object and the dog must place at least one paw in that area to complete the obstacle.
Jumpers With Weaves
This class consists mainly of jumps, with a few weaves and tunnels thrown in. There are no contact obstacles so courses run at a faster pace!
FAST, or “Fifteen and Send Time”
This class is the ultimate test of teamwork between dog and handler, strategy skill, accuracy, speed and distance handling.