What is “agility”?

Surely you all know the classic horse jumping – in a designated area are located jumping barriers that the rider with the horse pass in a predetermined sequence. And around 1978 in England began the dog sport called agility. One source says that agility apparently originated as entertainment for the non-pedigree dogs that can not go to the exhibition, but the second tells the opposite – that agility first appeared as breaks at the worldknown Cruft exhibition. Today, agility are runned by non-pedigree and of course pedigree dogs, along with their children, youth, adults and seniors, and throughout the world. Agility is operated as entertainment for the masses dog person, but also as a professional sport, which even has its world championship.

There are certain differences between the horse and dog parkour, especially between the sizes of the barriers (which are for dogs much smaller). Dogs are much more agile, so besides the classical jumps the jumping included also a slalom, a beam, sloping wall, swing, jump, circle that jump the dogs through, solid and cloth tunnel. Another rather important difference is that the dog handler doesn´t sit as a horseman, but he is running with the dog along the barriers. The dog has no collar or guide but the dog handler controls him only with verbal commands, his own motion and pointing. Mutual touch of the dog and the handler is assessed as an error.

Maybe now you say, how can a dachshund compete with a shepherd? The creators of agility divided dogs into size categories according to height at withers. Number of size classes depends on the organization, which covers the country agility. Given that in Europe is the ruler of the dogs world FCI (Fédération Internationale Cynologique),are competition in Czech republic with rules established by the organization. To year 2001 were the two size categories posible: dogs up to 40 cm (so-called mini-category), dogs above 40 cm (standard category). 1.1.2002 changed the rules and especially the reallocation of the three size groups: dogs to 34.99 cm (the Iris), from 35 to 42.99 cm (the Medium category) and from 43 cm above ( Large category). The diferences betwen the categories are primarily the hight of the jumps (for small dogs are obviously much smaller than for large ones), but also the height of the jump-cyrcle (cyrcle that the dogs jump through) and length of long jump. Other barriers are same for all categories.

The track tends to have 12 to 20 barriers, and it depending on the judge how will the track look like. Options are endless, just change the height of a barrier for a few inches, and the track has a completely different difficulty. Some parkour is more technical, when the handler stands still and only his dog is moving. Others are very rushed and the dogs handler has sometimes problems to keep on whit his dog while not to completely lose his breath. And also because the teams are differently performed, they are divided into three categories – A1, it is a class for beginners, A2 – a class for the better athletes, and A3, which is a class for seasoned riders, the best of the best. Entry into the elite class A3 is voluntary, and the entry itself and to stay in this class are required to meet certain difficult conditions.

The whole championship is about the number of penalty points can the team (handler + dog) complete the given track of jumping. Penalty points are awarded for any errors or so-called rejection – it is always 5 penalty points for a mistake. What specifically are the penalty points awarded, are detailed in the Order of agility. The second criterion, which decides the order of teams with same penalty points, is the time of the team. Top teams are usually “pulled” on mili- seconds and decided every larger bend of dog behind an barrier. It is also possible to achieve a so-called disqualification, most easily by the dog overcomes another barricade. Possible grounds for disqualification are more detailed and can be found again in the Order of agility.

Every year takes place around 30 competition and 8 agility training camps in Czech republic. The competition are often seen at dog shows, especially those international – the competition in the České Budejovice in April and October, in Prague and Brno in June in July, had already become a tradition and are well attended by spectators. Otherwise, the competition take pleace on cynological training grounds. Each competition has, on average, 80-100 competing teams, but also competiton with 150 teams are usual, especialy international competition. The competiton can be in all weather, except it was a period of major floods in Moravia. The main competiton season is from April to October (competiton every weekend),there are less competiton through the winter and they take place in the hall. Training camps are held in summer months, providing the opportunity for beginners to learn about agility in a short period and for the most advanced are good opportunities for dogs two-phase training. Dates for all events and camps are in the therm-calendar of agility events. An updated calendar was also based in the magazine Dog the friend of man.


Oficial website of Czech Agility
Production of kennels and professional agility barriers