Training a dog for most of us never goes much beyond ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, so how wonderful it would be to have a dog that can obediently fly over jumps and dart through tunnels. Dog agility is basically an obstacle course for dogs and a test of the handler’s ability. Agility pros claim most dogs naturally love it and it is a fun and friendly way to keep you and your dog fit.
To see if you can teach an old dog new tricks, try it out first in your garden: it is as simple as setting up some (low) jumps with garden canes and buckets and bringing out a bag of dog treats. Entice your pet over and pretty soon they’ll get the idea and jump without even being asked just to get the tasty treat over the other side.
You don’t even need your own dog – schemes like borrowmydoggy.com will loan you one to exercise. Puppies and young dogs that aren’t fully grown can’t do agility, so it’s a good way to bond and train with older or rescue dogs (top agility dogs peak aged 4–6).
It’s easier than you think to get started – there are hundreds of groups and clubs around the country, not all of which involve competing, if that’s not your thing. But if the bug (as opposed to the dog) bites, then there are plenty of competitions to choose from, at every level. Breed doesn’t matter a jot, but if you do take it seriously, you probably need a border collie – they nearly always win!
See how it’s done at Crufts (9–12 March at The NEC Birmingham and on Channel 4 and More 4; crufts.org.uk).