Westminster 2021: Agility 101

Photo:  WKC
Photo: WKC

From our friends at the Westminster Kennel Club:

What is Agility?

Agility is a sport that appeals to all dog lovers – from young people to senior citizens. It has a great spectator appeal. Agility is designed to demonstrate a dog’s willingness to work with its handler in a variety of situations. It is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training, and teamwork. Dog and handlers negotiate an obstacle course racing against the clock.

What is the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster?

The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster is open to those dogs that have achieved more difficult AKC titles and are therefore eligible to compete on a Masters level course. There are 350 dogs entered in this competition and each must already have earned a MACH or PACH title. Each dog will compete in two qualifying rounds consisting of a Standard Agility course and a Jumpers with Weaves course. The 10 dogs with the highest combined scores from each of the five height classes will move on to the Championship Round. The 50 finalists will be vying for the title of Masters Agility Champion.

What breeds of dogs will I see at the Masters Agility Championship?

All dogs are involved in agility as they offer five jump heights. The most popular breeds at this time are Shetland Sheepdogs, Belgian Tervurens, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and Papillons. All-American Dogs (mixed breeds) are also eligible to compete.

What’s the Best Dog Breed for Agility?

All dogs, including your dog, can participate in Agility including All-American mixed-breed dogs.

What can I expect to see at the Masters Agility Championship?

Each of the competitors will tackle a Standard class and a Jumpers With Weaves class in the preliminary round. A Standard class has contact obstacles including an A-frame, dog walk and seesaw. The dog must place a least one paw in the contact zone on contact obstacles in order not to receive a fault. The Standard class also has jumps, weave poles, pause table, and tunnels. The Jumpers with Weaves class does not have contact obstacles or a pause table to slow the team’s forward momentum. This is a very fast course with jumps and weave poles requiring instant decisions by the handler and close attention from the dog.

How can Agility benefit the relationship between you and your dog?

Agility training is a great way to build athleticism in your dog
Dogs that are properly exercised and mentally challenged exhibit fewer behavioral problems
Competing in Agility trials provides many traveling opportunities with your dog
Working with your dog in Agility builds communication and shared enjoyment
Keeps your dog fit, flexible, and ready for adventure

How does Agility enhance communication between dog and handler?

Once you start training for Agility the canine-human bond between you and your dog deepens because you learn new ways to communicate to each other on the Agility course.

Does your dog know the difference between the fun of training and the actual competition?

Your dog is completely tuned in to you as handler. While training is fun, so is the actual competition. The dog knows the difference between training and the competition because the handler’s focus is different when on the course to beat the clock.

Tune into Fox Saturday from 5 – 7 pm for the finals of the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster!

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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