Lucky Dog Agility

Shalom's Guide to Dog Agility
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I am Shalom -- a Swedish Vallhund that competes in dog agility. With the help of brother Sam and some other relatives, I'll guide you through the basics of agility. Agility is an obstacle course for dogs. When you run an agility course there are usually 14-20 obstacles. While your human knows the types of obstacles that will be there, the course layout is a surprise at every trial. The most entertaining sight at an agility trial is the large group of humans walking the course, concentrating very hard and pretending to direct an imaginary dog.

There are several kinds of obstacles that a dog must perform in an agility competition. Contact obstacles are ones that a dog must run or walk across. There are three contact obstacles dogs are asked to perform -- the dogwalk, the A-frame, and the teeter.

The dogwalk is an 8 - 12 ft long plank with up and down ramps on both ends. The planks are 10 or 12" wide and the center plank is 3 or 4 feet above the ground.
The A-frame is a triangular shaped obstacle that is 5 - 6 feet tall at the peak. The bottom of all of the contacts has a yellow contact zone. The dog must touch this yellow zone as he leaves the obstacle or he recieves a fault.
The teeter is a difficult obstacle for some dogs to learn. The teeter moves and bangs when it hits the ground. The dog must step in the contact zone of the teeter and cannot exit the teeter until the end hits the ground.
Some people train their dogs to stop at the base of the contact zones to insure that the dog won't jump over it. Others train the dog to run across the bottom of the contact zone.