The Benefits of Agility Training for Dogs

The benefits of agility training for dogs actually are beneficial for the owner as well. Agility training is preparation to run an obstacle course at a timed competition. Owners use verbal commands to guide the dog through the obstacle course quickly in a certain set pattern.

Benefits for All

The benefits of agility training for dogs include:

  • Getting needed exercise to maintain health
  • Developing flexibility
  • Sharpening the mind
  • Increasing alertness
  • Increasing endurance and stamina
  • Developing communication skills
  • Developing speed and accuracy
  • Developing confidence
  • Developing obedience skills
  • Learning to think on his feet
  • Improving coordination
  • Establishing trust and confidence with owner
  • Deepening dog-owner bond
  • Developing agility (of course)

The benefits attained by the owner are:

  • Deepening the dog-owner bond
  • Maintaining health and fitness by gaining muscle and losing fat
  • Developing flexibility and agility
  • Improving concentration
  • Increasing perseverance
  • Increasing strength

History of Agility Training for Dogs

The competition was unintentionally developed in 1978 when a horse-enthusiast employed dogs performing equestrian-like feats as entertainment at London's famous Crufts Dog Show. It was such a hit with the crowd that what was to become the fastest growing dog sport in history moved to the United States in 1986, under the title of the U.S. Dog Agility Association. Although any dog can compete, younger, medium build working breeds have a distinct advantage. Puppies are excluded until they reach a minimum age of 9 months, in order not to incur injury. Puppies older than 9 months are also capable of obeying verbal commands (sit, heel, right, left, up, down, fast, slow, etc.), which is mandatory in order to successfully negotiate the obstacle course.

A standard course includes various jumps, weave poles, tunnels, a tire jump, pause table and three obstacles that a dog must climb. These can include a teeter-totter, A-frame and a dog walk made of various planks. The obstacle course and sequence is known just shortly before start time. Competitions are divided into age, breed and beginner to advanced stages.


In order to be successful, a dog must train with equipment that exactly duplicates the equipment used in the actual competitions. Most of the obstacles are uncomplicated. Training should begin with using shorter equipment to acclimate the dog to the equipment before practicing with the standard size version.

The following equipment is used in competition:

  • Tunnels – Rigid, vinyl, wire-framed tunnels 10 to 20 feet in length and 24" in diameter and 8 to 10 foot fabric collapsible tunnels
  • Dog walk – A plank walk four feet above ground with an entrance, center and exit plank 8 to 12 feet long each
  • Pause table or box – A table or a taped off box where a dog pauses for 5 seconds during the course
  • Jumps – A broad jump, a tire jump (dog must jump through the tire without touching), a single jump (jump over a horizontal bar), double or triple jumps and a panel jump (panel replaces the bar for jumping over)
  • A-Frame – Two 8 to 9 foot planks hinged together to form an "A," whereby a dog walks up one side and down the other with the help of grips or ridges on the ramps
  • Weave Poles – 3 foot poles placed 20 inches apart in a straight line which the dog must zigzag through

This competition can be quite strenuous. A veterinarian should examine any dog before starting this strenuous workout program.