Dog Agility is canine Show Jumping, with a twist. The twist being that whilst a rider is mounted on their horse, with reins and legs to steer around a course, the Competitive Agility Dog has to negotiate a course of jumps and obstacles off the lead, with the handler only able to communicate by voice and body language. In a competition it is forbidden to touch your dog, or take treats or toys into the ring. Labradors, especially from working bred lines, do very well at Agility. Their exuberance, athleticism, and biddability all point to a fun breed to run with.
I have done Agility for many years with Fife, Ash and now Oak, and all love it.
Oak in particular really enjoys this Agility game, regularly achieving clear rounds, and on the more twisty courses the fact that he is so in tune with me comes into its own, and he shaves seconds from his time by being “with me” on the tight turns. During his first competitive season Oak achieved places in over 50% of the classes he ran clear in – which is jolly good for a Labrador competing against fast herding breeds like Border Collies
Ash prefers the flowing steeplechase type courses, where he can race next to me, urging me on to run faster to try and keep up with him! (I never can, he beats me to the finish every time!)
In my opinion Agility is the perfect compliment to Gundog training, as the bond between dog and handler is very strong. Yes, Agility is about speed and excitement, but it is also about obedience and accuracy, and the true partnership between dog and handler.
Agility is very addictive! I train with three different clubs during the summer months, and compete most weekends. Not only is it fun, but it is also a good way to keep the dogs fit. (Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to work for me, though!).
Oak on the agility course Ash on the agility course