Dog agility is a great way for owners and their pets to get some exercise and enjoy a social outing.
The Cariboo Agility Team is a small club that puts on a dog agility trial in August every year.
People come from all over the province to participate.
Roxanne Ziefflie gives agility lessons in 100 Mile House.
Tennale Sailor, Jan Wherley and myself travel from Williams Lake to take the lessons with Ziefflie.
In dog agility you and your dog work as a team.
Dog agility is for any breed of dog that may compete in Agility Association of Canada trials whether they are purebred or not.
The dogs are grouped into three classes; regular, specials, and veterans.
Each class is further divided into jump heights based on the dog’s height measured at the shoulders.
Dogs that compete in the regular class jump 10, 16, 22, or 26 inches and climb a five-foot, six-inch A-Frame.
Mini dogs are 16 inches and under and receive additional course time. The specials class exists for handlers who choose to have their dogs compete at a lower jump height.
Some dogs may have conformation, character or health issues that impede their jumping ability.
Or some just because the handler feels this choice will help prolong the dog’s agility career.
Examples might include heavy-framed breeds such as Rottweilers or Bernese Mountain dogs, soft dogs with less drive that shut down easily, or dogs with hip dysplasia.
Specials dogs run the same courses but compete at one jump height lower than they would in the regular class. The jump divisions are six, 10, 16, and 22 inches and the A-frame is lowered to five feet. Spreads and double jumps are replaced with single bar jumps.
The veterans class is open to dogs that are seven years and older, or a specials dog that is five years of age and has competed within specials division for a year.
The handler can choose when to move his/her dog to veterans and has the option of competing at one or two jump heights lower than regular.
The A-frame is five feet.
As you can see, one of the features of AAC is that it is all-inclusive. Everyone can play at a standard that is safe and rewarding for their dog.
There are three performance levels in AAC.
New dogs begin trialing at the starters level and progress through advanced and masters.
As a team advances the course becomes increasingly difficult with more obstacles, greater challenges, and shorter course times.
Each course is timed and judged by a certified judge.
You get six minutes to walk the course without your dog then you go out and run the course with your dog.
Only one handler and dog will be on the course at one time.
Only positive behaviour is allowed. No harsh correction is tolerated.
The focus is fun and safety for your dog.
Handlers do not focus on the competition but rather the ability to complete the course within the time limit and with no faults.
There is a lot involved but it is very addicting.
Dog agility is for all breeds of dogs and any age but they have to be 18 months to be able to compete in trials.
You will find all ages of handlers as well. I even met an 80-year-old gentleman enjoying the sport.
I have met the most wonderful people through dog agility.
Every year there is a regional trial put on by the Agility Association of Canada (AAC). From there participants can qualify to go to the nationals.
This year both events were in Naniamo, B.C.
I have even met people trying out for the Worlds.
For more on the Cariboo Agility Team check out www.radfordretrievers.com/cat/catmembers.htm.