Thursday, September 22, 2011


What are jumpers? What is the difference between an agility match and an agility trial? If you are a beginner agility student or would like to start the sport with your canine but are intimidated by its cryptic language, fear not! Take our lead and we will guide you through the twists, tunnels and turns of agility’s perplexing vocabulary.

Agility Competition: There are two types of agility competitions. There are Agility Matches and Agility Trials or Sanctioned Trials.

Agility Match: Also known as an Agility Fun Match. Matches are considered informal trials that simulate competition. These are typically used for practice and help you get a feel for the real trial experience. You cannot earn titles at an agility match.

Agility Run Through: A practice session that is timed in which a handler and their dog can go through the agility course.

Agility Trial: A sanctioned competition where one can try to earn titles and qualifying scores. Rules are more regimented.

Back/Rear Cross: Any maneuver where the handler changes sides behind the dog and directs the dog to change their direction so the dog is moving in the same direction as the handler.

Contact Obstacles: The obstacles used in the agility course that your dog must navigate. Example of a contact obstacle would be the dog walk.

Directional: Any command given to the dog to turn the dog in a desired direction.

Flatwork: This is what happens in between the obstacles, when your dog is running on the ground. Flatwork is a foundation skill that is essential in agility. One component is how well the handler’s body language is communicated to the dog. Flatwork teaches your dog how to take direction and stay on course with you.

Front Cross: Any maneuver where the handler changes sides in front of the dog while the dog is moving. It is now generally accepted that in performing a front cross the handler always faces the dog.

Handler: The owner or person that directs the dog through the agility course.

Jump pole/bar: The horizontal pole, bar or rail on a jump that the dog must go over.

Jumpers: A course consisting of mainly jumps (horizontal poles). In most cases tunnels are also included; in AKC (American Kennel Club) you have Jumpers with Weaves in which weave poles are also included.

Pivot: Turning with your dog.

Turn: A relative directional that asks the dog to turn 180 degrees away from or toward the handler.

Weaves: Weaves are upright vertical poles fixed in a straight line that a dog must zig-zag through.

To get started learning the basics of agility, come to a Beginner Foundation Agility class at Morris K9 Campus!

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