How Can I Get My Dog Started In Agility Training?

Agility is a great activity for dogs and their owners to do together. It offers dogs exercise and mental stimulation. Further, it is an excellent bonding opportunity and it helps take training to the next level, making dogs more responsive and well behaved in general.

If you are interested in getting started in agility, this article will help guide you. You will be pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to begin agility with your dog, and even if your canine companion is a mixed breed, competing in a formal setting may still be possible.

At What Age Can I Start My Dog In Agility Training?

It is wise to consult with your dog’s veterinarian about this to ensure that your dog is healthy and able to begin agility training. That said, Most dogs begin agility training between the ages of one (1) and two (2).

Young puppies should not begin agility training. Since their bodies are still growing, this vigorous exercise is not recommended to avoid negatively impacting their growth and or sustaining a serious injury that could impact them the rest of their lives.

Can Any Dog Learn How To Do Agility?

Although dogs who have joint or mobility issues should not participate in agility, generally speaking, as long as your dog is healthy, he or she may train in agility no matter how small! One of the great things about agility is that the obstacles for the dogs can easily be adjusted for dogs of all sizes.

Is Agility Training Bad For Dogs?

No, agility training is not bad for dogs. As a veterinarian, I highly recommend some of my highly active patients consider it. I think agility is not just a great physical activity, but it can help your dog learn focus and mental tasks that can help it to lead a happier life.

While agility training is not bad for dogs when done properly, it is important that it is done safely to ensure that it benefits them. Here are some safety tips to consider:

  • Dogs should always have access to fresh water while participating in agility training.
  • Agility should not be performed outdoors in excessive heat to avoid dogs suffering from burnt paws, heat stroke and or dehydration.
  • As the temperatures rise, familiarize yourself with symptoms of heat exhaustion to prevent it and to know when your dog needs to stop training. Find more hot weather safety tips in this article by the ASPCA.
  • Agility should not be performed outdoors in excessive cold to prevent hypothermia and to prevent injury from slipping on ice.

How Can I Start Training My Dog In Agility In My Own Yard?

One of the nice things about agility is how easy it is to get started with it at home.

Begin by doing some research; watch YouTube videos, read articles on reputable websites such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). If agility seems like a good match for your dog, it is easy to try it at home quickly and inexpensively; that way if your dog does not enjoy it, you have not invested a significant amount of money in the activity.

You will need to purchase a few things to get started:

  • A book about agility training. Choosing a book published by a reputable publisher is the best place to learn from if you have aspirations to compete with your dog; those books will help you learn what you need to know to complete agility courses correctly, which is crucial for success in competitions. If you only plan to do agility casually at home for fun, using free resources like YouTube or other websites that are not officially published will be fine.
  • A agility equipment kit such as the Chew King Dog 6 Piece Agility Kit. Some owners choose to build their own equipment, but in comparison to portable kits, it is easy to spend more on these doggy DIY projects.
  • High value treats to get your dog’s attention. Be sure to get training treats rather than regular treats because they are small, ideal for training without adding too many calories to your dog’s diet. The Pet Botanics Training Bacon Flavor Dog Treats are a great choice because they are very odiferous. Rover recommends cut up pieces of hot dogs, a very high value item ideal for getting your dog’s attention.
  • Optional but helpful to have on paw, clickers are often utilized for agility training.

How Long Does It Take To Train A Dog In Agility?

All dogs learn at different paces just like humans do. However, most dogs pick up agility training within six (6) to twelve (12) months with consistent training if they enjoy it.

To help your dog learn quickly, you should use high value treats, practice daily, practice commands with consistency, and keep training sessions short and sweet. Only use positive reinforcement training methods and always end on a positive note.

Some obstacles, such as the tunnel or the teeter board or wobble board, may be intimidating to some dogs. Small Door Vet recommends avoiding forceful training methods when dogs are apprehensive. Keep in mind that if a dog has negative or traumatic experiences training in agility, it will set back training considerably in the future.

How Do I Compete In Agility Competitions With My Dog?

Participating in agility competitions with your dog can be a fun way to bond and can offer your dog enrichment.

To prepare to meet the goal of competing with your dog, you will need to begin by finding a dog trainer who specializes in agility to work with. While you can get started at home, a professional trainer is a crucial part of preparing both your dog and you to compete.

Dogs and handlers who are new to agility would begin by participating in the AKC’s Agility Course Test (ACT). The ACT gives dogs the opportunity to practice entry level agility skills and handlers the opportunity to experience and practice the competition procedures.

To compete in a agility competition with the American Kennel Club (AKC), your dog must be fifteen (15) months old or older, registered with the AKC, be spayed or neutered, be healthy, and be up to date on all vaccines.

While many assume only purebred dogs registered with the AKC are eligible to compete, mixed breed dogs or purebreds that were not bred to the breed’s AKC standard may register compete with the AKC’s Canine Partners program.

To find an AKC agility competition, follow this link to the AKC calendar of events.


Agility is a great way to bond with your dog and help your dog stay active. Before getting started, it is wise to have your dog examined by his or her veterinarian to ensure that they are healthy and able to participate in agility safely. Once your dog has a clean bill of health, it is easy to start agility training at home, but it is important to consider the weather before training your dog outdoors because of how rigorous agility training can be.

Last update on 2022-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API