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Please read before registering for class.

Things to Know About Agility!

Agility is a competitive canine sport where dog-handler teams negotiate an obstacle course to get the best score and time. Courses are different at every match, so it is up to the human handler to tell the dog which obstacles to do and what order to do them in. Obstacles might include jumps of various kinds, tunnels, A-frames, dog walks, see-saws and weave poles. Agility is fast-paced, requires lightning decisions, and at its best brings out the magic in the human-canine teamwork. But you don’t need to want to compete in order to enjoy it--agility is a fun recreational activity for dogs and their humans, whether you ever plan to enter a match or not!

That said, agility is a fast-moving sport which involves running, jumping, climbing, sudden turns and quick stops. Like any athletic endeavor, it involves risk, both to you and your dog. Injuries, both human and canine, can and do occur; some are serious. Dogs who are out of shape, elderly, of poor conformation or of breeds prone to ailments such as back trouble or hip dysplasia are particularly at risk. For safety reasons, puppies and dogs under one year of age may need exercises modified and obstacle heights reduced during classes. Until a pup has reached maturity and the growth plates of their joints have closed, the constant repetitive actions of jumping or weaving typical of an agility class place too much strain on still-growing bones and joints. Your pup may be brilliant on the course and seem absolutely fine--but you are putting his future soundness at risk. Please be patient with your young dog--there are many important skills you can work on to get him ready for the big day when he starts running "real" agility courses!

The recreational Agility classes currently being offered are beginning fun classes suitable for sound, healthy dogs of all breeds and sizes. To help keep Agility a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your dog:

1. If your dog is older, out-of-shape, a giant breed or a breed prone to hip dysplasia or other orthopedic issues, the Clicker Coach STRONGLY recommends that you consult with your veterinarian about your dog's fitness and suitability for agility training before registering your dog for a class. Agility is not for every dog!
2. If your dog is--dare we say it?--a bit of a couch potato, you will need to be patient and work slowly. Even a few extra pounds can cause problems on an agility course! If you have an older, over-weight or out-of-shape dog, making haste slowly is a good rule to follow.
3. Dogs instinctively try to conceal injuries, and may not tell you when they are hurt. It is up to you to be sensitive to your dog's ability and fitness level, and to monitor closely for any signs of pain or distress. NEVER push your dog if he seems off.
4. Keep water available, especially in hot weather, and be sure your dog drinks.
5. Do not feed your dog immediately before class. Running on a full stomach isn't good for anyone.
6. Trim your dog's nails, if necessary, a few days before class. Long raggedy nails can get caught in equipment and cause painful injuries.
7. Consider your own level of fitness and use common sense. You needn't be a triathlete to have a wonderful agility career with your dog, but if you have bad knees, back trouble or other medical conditions, inform the trainer of your limitations and be sensible. The Clicker Coach is happy to do everything possible to accommodate people of differing abilities, and will modify course work to suit your needs whenever possible.
8. If you notice a hazard or dangerous condition during class--a gopher hole, broken equipment, a loose dog--immediately notify the trainer so the situation can be remedied.
9. You have an absolute right and responsibility to decline, for yourself and/or your dog, to do any exercise which you feel is unsafe, frightening, or beyond your current level of ability.
10. Agility equipment is designed for canines, not humans. Please do not play or allow children to play on the agility equipment. Equipment may only be used under the direct supervision of the trainer, following the trainer's instructions.

Agility, like any sport, is an inherently risky. The Clicker Coach will be happy to answer any questions regarding the nature of the class, the exercises and the equipment being used, but you and you alone are responsible for the health and well-being of yourself and your dog in class. If you have any questions or health concerns about your dog or yourself, please consult with your veterinarian and/or doctor before registering.

Is Your Dog Ready for an Agility class?

Dogs of every age, breed and size have enjoyed agility. Your dog doesn't have to be an obedience champ or even very well trained to have fun in class, but since it's vitally important that your dog have a safe and happy experience--motivation is everything in this sport!--you may want to consider whether YOU are willing to be patient and positive with the challenges your dog may present. My experience is that YOU will have more fun in class if your dog has enough training and experience to focus on the new and exciting Agility Game.

As long as your dog is not aggressive or disruptive, you are welcome to bring her to class as she is--but be advised that you may spend more time working on basic obedience challenges than you will learning agility. If your dog becomes unruly or overly excited around other dogs, if your dog cannot focus on you in the presence of distractions, and/or if your dog is too stressed or nervous in a group setting to enjoy learning, you may want to work on basic obedience and other foundations before attempting Agility.