Get Involved in an Active Sport with Your Dog

Agility Tokaji Tunnel

Agility is one of the fastest-growing dog sports in the country, and dogs love it.

 In Agility, the handler directs the dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a time limit. Courses typically have 14 to 20 obstacles, including tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, A-frames, and pause tables. The handler’s controls are limited to voice, movement, and body signals. It’s truly a team sport.

There are five major Agility organizations in the United States. Each one has slightly different rules and requirements for the dog and handler. Titles and levels from the various organizations cannot be mixed and matched. For example, even if you earn an AKC-advanced title, you’ll still start in the first level of USDAA competitions. Although each organization uses most of the same obstacles, some are unique to one or another, and there might be slight differences in obstacle specifications.

  • American Kennel Club (AKC) offers Agility to mixed breeds and purebred dogs. The AKC has less-stringent obstacles and qualifying requirements but smaller courses than the USDAA. It’s a good “in-between” organization for many handlers.
  • Canine Performance Events (CPE) offers Agility to mixed breeds and purebred dogs. It provides a multitude of titles in five competitive levels, including classes for junior handlers and older dogs. The courses are known for being smooth and flowing. The equipment standards are similar to the AKC.
  • United States Dog Agility Association, Inc. (USDAA) offers Agility to mixed breeds and purebred dogs. The qualifying requirements are strict, and some dogs have difficulty clearing the higher jumps. Not only are the jumps higher, but many obstacles are more demanding, such as narrow planks and smaller tire sizes.
  • United Kennel Club (UKC) offers Agility to mixed breeds and purebred dogs. The UKC is known for demanding more precision and control. Their philosophy is to make Agility available to all handlers and dogs regardless of physical abilities and breed disadvantages. Therefore, they offer lower height and speed standards.
  • North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC) offers Agility to mixed breeds and purebred dogs. The NADAC offers more-moderate jump heights, safe courses, and the least number of obstacles.
  • Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) is not just for Australian Shepherds. It welcomes all breeds, including mixed breeds. Its rules are similar to the NADAC.

VCA Agility Contacts

Southwest – Monica Klein
West – Carol Keller
Pacific Northwest – Sam Chew
Colorado – Jenny Follett
Midwest – Donna Nisleit
Southeast – Leslie Kupkowski
Northeast – Anne Macaulay