Friday, October 7, 2011


Photo Courtesy of Dave Hamster
In our effort to demystify the canine sport of agility, this week we will explain the different obstacles used in agility courses. The obstacles used in each course can vary depending on the venue holding the trial whether its NADAC, USDAA, or AKC.

Contact Obstacles
Contact obstacles must be touched by the dog, especially the ending portion of the obstacle. This section of the obstacle is generally painted a bright color like yellow or orange. The reason these sections of the obstacle must be touched or walked on by the dog is for safety reasons. If your dog is on the pyramid shaped A-frame (which we will discuss) and wants to jump from the top of the pyramid, he or she could get injured. Requiring the dog to touch the bottom most section of the pyramid ensures that your dog will safely jog off the obstacle. Not doing so can result in a fault which will take points off your agility trial score.

A-Frame: The A-Frame consists of two wide planks that create a pyramid-like structure. Your dog must run up one side and down the other, making sure to touch the painted lower half.

Dog Walk: The dog walk is generally one foot wide and five feet high. There is an ascending plank, a horizontal plank, and a descending plank that your dog must navigate. This requires a level of balance. Your dog must touch the yellow painted contact zones.

Seesaw/Teeter: This obstacle can be scary for some dogs because it can feel like they are not in control of the equipment they are walking on. Once they adjust to the motion and how their weight affects the movement of the seesaw, dogs can confront the challenge with ease. Just make sure your dog touches the yellow section in the middle of the seesaw!

Pause Table: A pause table is a wide, low elevated table that your dog needs to jump on and literally pause. Some venues want the dog to lay down for five seconds, others simply want your canine to stay still on all fours.

Non-Contact Obstacles: 
Weave Poles: These are upright vertical poles that your dog must weave in and out of. This can be one of the most fun obstacles to watch a dog navigate!

Tunnels: A fabric or plastic tunnel your dog must run through. Tunnels can be straight or curved.

Chute: A short tunnel with a  fabric extension. While your dog is running through, there is a section where your dog cannot see you.

Tire: A circular tire for your dog to jump through.

Photo Courtesy of Lil Sheperd
 Jumps: There are many types of jumps.  Some jumps have one bar and the height of  bar can be set at different heights which is all up to the dog organizations' discretion. Other jumps have more depth and can be double or even triple jumps. Broad Jumps are low and on the ground but wide and situated as though your dog were jumping over a stream. Jumps with Wings have extensions on the end that keeps you, the handler, further away from your dog, thus testing your distance communication.

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