When you're just starting out you have tons of questions
and very few answers. That's what this section is for -- Q &
I'm writing a book called "1000 Questions (and
Answers!) About Dog Agility" and I still need quite a few questions
before I can finish. So I've been soliciting questions from the
visitors to AgilityTrial.com and answering them in the mailing list.
Following are a few of the more common questions (and
answers!) that I've received over the last couple years. If your question
isn't here, send
me an email and ask! Also, if you'd like more Q & A, please subscribe
to my email list -- every couple weeks or so you'll receive free training
tips, Q & A, etc.
Now, here are a few Qs and some As from the past...
Q. I live in __(fill in the blank)__ and I want to
start agility lessons with my dog. Can you tell me who to contact
A. Anybody who knows me will say that I know an
awful lot (okay, only my kids will say that, and they're not teenagers
yet), but I don't know of all the agility trainers around the world.
However, I was able to go to my trusty bookmark collection and
pull out the following URL:
Clean Run has a searchable database with info on agility clubs
and schools. Take a peek at what's in your area.
Also, a question that's asked a lot is how to find an agility trial
near __(fill in the blank)__ and the answer is very near the same
That address will lead you to Clean Run's list of trials, fun runs,
Oh, if you ever end up buying something from Clean Run because
I sent you there, be sure and let them know. I'm bucking for a free
subscription to their great magazine! :)
Q. How do I know how far apart to space the poles
on my weave poles. Is the measurement from the edge of one pole
to the edge of the next? Or from center to center? Help!
A. Calm down, bucko. The short answer is that
it's not all that critical. Well, you want to have the correct width
between poles, but the difference of part of an inch probably isn't
going to make any difference to your dog.
In NADAC, for instance, you have about one inch of leeway -- the
poles should be 20"-21" from center to center. It also
says the poles should be 36"-48" tall and the width of
the poles should be 3/4"-1" in diameter.
How did I know all that? I checked the NADAC website -- their rules
page, specifically. It's here:
Q. I have a dog that I adopted from the SPCA and I
don't know his exact age. I have read that a dog must be at least
18-months old to enter a competition, so how do I determine my dog's
A. First, thanks for adopting a dog. Both of mine
came from the pound and while I won't say that I'll never buy a
purebreed, I don't see that happening any time soon. (I have two
children and they're adopted, too, although not from the pound.
Adoption seems to have become a lifestyle choice in our family.)
Anyway, here's how it works. Get around "dog people"
and ask them how old they think your dog is. Then go to your vet
and ask how old he or she thinks your dog is. When you get a number
that "feels" right, grab a calendar and work backwards
until you find your dog's birthday. Ta-da! You now know when your
dog was born and so you know his exact age.
The short answer is, you make it up! As long as it's reasonable
nobody will question it.
Q. My dog is 10 months old and I'd like to get her
started in agility as soon as possible. How old does a dog have
to be to do agility?
A. How old the dog should be to train in agility
and compete in agility are two different things. For training, start
your puppy early. Make it's all a game to them (which it is, of
course). Be careful not to start your dog on jumping too soon --
you want to be sure their "growth plates" have finished
closing before subjecting them to constant or high jumps. Check
with your vet to see when that typically happens for your particular
Q. In the novice agility class, will there be weaves?
Is there a specific list of obstacles that will be involved in this
A. Yes, you can pretty much count on having a
set of at least six weave poles to deal with in the novice class
-- no matter which flavor of agility you do. There are lists of
obstacles that you *will* and *may* encounter at the websites of
the different organizations. Click the "Trials" button
at the top of this page to find links to the different organizations.