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Ten Reasons to Enter Your Dog in the USDAA Intro Program

There are many benefits to entering (or hosting) a USDAA Intro trial. By Kama Rueschenberg

Have you ever wished there was a way you could replicate the agility trial environment in your training? Or maybe you have a new agility dog and want a beginner-friendly environment to get them started.

There are so many options for agility competitions now; it can be confusing where to start. 

So, if you're getting ready to start a new agility dog or trying to get more out of your training, here are 10 reasons you want to compete in the USDAA Intro Program:

  1. The USDAA Intro Program is designed to help new competitors and beginning dogs get started in dog agility with a low-stress environment. Why is it low-stress? The people there are excited to help beginners. USDAA Intro trials typically have fewer dogs and handlers in attendance than typical events, and you can train in the ring at a USDAA Intro event. How cool is that?!

  2. In a USDAA Intro trial, you can measure your dog's current training level or compete in FEO (For Exhibition Only). FEO allows you to train in the ring and/or jump a higher height than required for titling in the Intro Program. There's no pressure to complete a course with accuracy. Most competitors running FEO are there to reach personal training goals, and they want you to reach your goals too!

  3. Dogs fourteen months of age or older who have not earned titles in the USDAA Championship, Performance or Veterans Programs are eligible to earn titles in the USDAA Intro Program. That gives you four full months of training opportunities since dogs are not eligible to compete in the other USDAA programs until they are at least eighteen months of age.

  4. USDAA Intro trials are geared toward the beginner; meaning it can be a good place to learn how trials operate. Where do you check in? How do you fill out an entry form? If you don't know the answers to those questions, than USDAA Intro is perfect for you. 

  5. You can also learn the USDAA classes like Gamblers, Snooker, Standard and Jumpers! Not only will the judge spend time answering all your questions, but there will be experienced USDAA competitors there who are willing to help you too. So, when they're not in the ring working their dog, they will be happy to spend time helping you!

  6. You can use TOYS in the ring! There are only a few opportunities to train in a trial environment, and the USDAA Intro Program gives you that chance! Intro is the only USDAA program that allows non-food rewards in the ring. It's a great idea to take advantage of these training opportunities. If you choose to use a toy during your run, you are electing to run FEO and cannot qualify, but the training opportunity is much more important.

  7. In most instances, the USDAA Intro Program costs less than your typical agility trial, so it can be a budget-friendly way to get started in agility or to get extra training time with your dog.

  8. USDAA Intro events have fully fenced or enclosed rings. In regular events, sometimes the ring is just staked out with marking tape. The enclosed ring is a more secure environment and will boost your confidence and keep a beginning dog more focused.

  9. The courses in the USDAA Intro Program are a less complicated than a regular event, so there are fewer numbers to memorize!

  10. USDAA allows clubs to leave out or omit one of the three contact obstacles from the Standard course. This means, some clubs may choose to not use the teeter, dog walk or A-frame. Keep this in mind when you are debating entering an Intro trial.

What if your dog is under fourteen months of age? Most clubs would love for you to come and learn the different volunteer positions and they'll likely allow you to bring your dog (and his crate) so you can both learn about the agility environment prior to competing.

If you want to experience agility that's more like a party or you're thinking about starting agility, you need to check out the USDAA Intro Program!

You can download a FREE ebook on USDAA's Intro Program at

To see the official Rules and Regulations for the USDAA Intro Program, please visit

Kama Rueschenberg is a Cynosport World Games finalist and Gold and Silver medalist at multiple USDAA Regional events. She is a full-time agility instructor for Club-Doggie and trains agility and tricks classes from beginning to international competition levels. Her students have achieved great success including winning Gold medals at regional, national and international events. She also trains and provides animal talent for national commercials through AZ Animal Actors. You can follow Kama on her blog


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