Attending Your First Dog Agility Competition

23 August 2022Dog Training
Everything you need to know to register and compete with the Kennel Club.

Most people who get involved in agility don't start out with an intention to compete; they go to have fun and find competing to be an extension of it.


There is not as much of a divide between competitive agility and just-for-fun agility as you might expect. Most trainers use standard Kennel Club equipment, including jumps, tunnels, weaves, the dog walk, A-frame and see-saw.


The competition format

At Kennel Club competitions, dogs are divided into four categories: small dogs jump 30cm, medium dogs jump 40cm, intermediate dogs jump 50cm, and large dogs jump 60cm. Dogs have an official measurement before competing to determine the height category in which they will run. 


There are seven grades, or levels, of competition. New handlers and dogs begin at level one and progress through the grades. 


Dogs do not need to be any particular breed or even purebred to do agility. If your dog is of a mixed breed, you simply register them with the Kennel Club's Activity Register to begin entering competitions. If your dog already has Kennel Club pedigree papers, there is no need to do this. 


How to find competitions

Each weekend, agility competitions take place all around the country, most of which are open to spectators. The easiest place to find a comprehensive list is here.


What to expect on the day

During a typical day, your dog will have three or four runs, each over a different course (16-20 obstacles). As a competitor, you begin by walking the course alongside other entered handlers. During the course walk, you figure out the route your dog needs to take around the numbered obstacles.


When it's your turn, you aim to complete the course as quickly as possible without incurring any faults (dropped poles, for example). Each run is timed with electronic timing gates, and the fastest clear wins.


"Big" agility events to aim for

Crufts is held every March and is one of several annual flagship events in the UK. The other notable event is Olympia in December. It can be great fun to attend these events to watch a high standard of competition - it's a sure-fire way to catch the competition bug!


At most agility competitions, podium places win a rosette and a trophy, but the most joyful element of the experience is the partnership with your dog. 


Bonny Quick,

Agility Champion and Trainer

If you enjoying this blog and are interested in learning more about agility, check out Bonny’s book here.

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