What Is Dog Agility Training, Anyhow?

By Allegra Ringo
Small white dog doing an agility drill with their owner
credit: ViktorCap/iStock/GettyImages

Dog agility training is becoming an increasingly common term. But what is it, exactly? Don't worry. Here's everything you wanted to know about agility training, but were afraid to ask.

What is agility training?

Agility training began in England in 1978. The American Kennel Club held its first agility trial in 1994. According to the AKC, it's one of the fastest-growing dog sports in the U.S.

It's essentially a fun, challenging obstacle course for your dog, with you, the human, following along. Cesar's Way describes agility training as a "popular canine sport in which a handler directs a dog through a variety of obstacles such as a tunnel, teeter-totter, tire jump, weave poles, pause table, and standard jumps."

Most organizations that offer agility training have classes for a range of levels, from beginners to advanced.

Which dogs are best suited for agility training?

Many different types of dogs will enjoy and benefit from agility training. It's especially good for athletic dogs, energetic dogs, and hunting breeds, but plenty of other breeds make good candidates as well. Just make sure your dog is physically up to it — schedule a consultation with your vet first, to make sure your dog is free of any ailments that might make agility difficult or unenjoyable for them.

In addition to their physical wellness, consider your dog's personality and likes. If they enjoy games and lots of physical activity, that's a good sign that they'll like agility training.

What's the difference between agility clubs and agility schools?

As agility training continues to grow in popularity, more and more cities are offering it. In the United States, there are both agility "clubs," and agility schools.

An agility club is a group of agility training enthusiasts who have self-organized and decided to offer training. A club will have various members teaching different levels of agility training.

An agility school, on the other hand, is owned and operated by one or more instructors, who teach the various levels using consistent criteria. Yelp is a great resource for finding both clubs and schools in your area. You'll want to do some research on the various schools and clubs you find to determine which one is right for you and your dog.

Dog running in an agility course
credit: David Midgley/iStock/GettyImages

Why agility train your dog?

If you're looking for a way to provide stimulation for your dog and bond with them in the process, agility training can be a great option. Agility courses provide exercise as well as mental stimulation. Since agility training involves chasing "prey" and maneuvering over, under, and around various things, it's a great way for your dog to use their instincts in a way they don't typically get to.

Plus, agility training provides exercise for humans, too!

Dog in an agility competition
credit: ECummings00/iStock/GettyImages

Are you and your pup ready to start training? Here's an article on teaching your dog how to do crossovers and tutorials on building your own agility tunnel and other obstacles. Your pup will be so confident!