What is Dog Agility?
Dog agility is a competitive sport loosely based on equestrian jumping events,
but instead of getting to ride on top the human has to run as well. The handler
directs the dog through a variety of jumps,
tunnels, weave poles, bridges,
teeter-totters and other equipment
laid out in a set course by a judge.
The judge watches the dog/handler
team for faults, like knocking down
a jump bar or going off course, and
the official timer keeps track of the
Handlers are trying for a clean,
smooth run and a qualifying leg
toward a title. Several national
organizations sanction the sport,
including the United States Dog
Agility Association, the North
American Dog Agility Council,
The Australian Shepherd Club
of America, and the American
Kennel Club.Jump heights vary
depending on the height of the dog at the withers, so a wide variety of breeds
compete. Rainier Agility Team (RAT) members run Shetland Sheepdogs, Border Collies,
Corgis, Whippets, Border Terriers, Australian Shepherds, Samoyeds and many other
breeds and mixed breeds.
There are some very fast dogs, but although the runs are timed the emphasis
is on the accuracy. It is fast-paced and exciting, and is hard to beat as a
spectator sport. RAT trials are open to the public, and spectators are encouraged
to bring their families to these free events. However, only pre-registered dog/handler
pairs may compete. (Bringing dogs along just to watch may not be a good idea.
It would be a little like taking kids to a playground where they don't get to
Opportunities to watch the sport abound. RAT puts on four two-day trials each
year, in February, April, July and September, at various spots around the Puget
Sound region. The action generally gets going by 8 am, then winds down by 5
or 6 pm each day. For more information on a particular trial, call 425-222-3838
To get your dog (and yourself) involved in the sport, contact your area club
for information on classes, memberships and upcoming events. RAT has members
in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area and offers classes in Kent (call 425-222-3838).
Other Northwest dog agility clubs include the Sno-King Snowbounders, in northern
King/southern Snohomish County (206-880-4474 in Redmond or 360-653-5080 in Arlington),
Top Dog, in Olympia (360-357-6722), Chuckanut Chaotic Canines, in Bellingham
(360-653-5080), Columbia Agility Team in the Portland, Oregon area (503-638-3142),
Willamette Agility Group, in western Oregon (503-926-8767) and the Spokane Dog
Training club (509-244-2332). Learn the exiting and fun sport of dog agility.
State Obedience Training Club was organized in 1946 as a non-profit volunteer
organization dedicated to responsible dog ownership. WSOTC holds regularly scheduled
obedience and training classes at its Ballard location and in Lake City. Pre-registration
is required. Call 206-784-8026, or 206-524-2468, for more information.