Dog agility is a competitive sport that tests a person's skills in training and handling of dogs over a timed obstacle course. Competitors race against the clock as they direct their dogs to jump hurdles, scale ramps, burst through tunnels, traverse a see-saw and weave through a line of poles in an obstacle course configuration designed to challenge a handler's competitive and training skills. With scoring based on faults similar to equestrian show jumping, dog agility has become an exciting spectator event.
No. A competitor may compete with any dog, purebred or mixed breed in USDAA events. Dog agility is practiced as a sporting activity that demonstrates a handler and trainer's skill in working with a dog on an obstacle course. The type of dog may pose certain challenges in training and handling, but a competitor is not restricted as to type of dog. Therefore, dog agility is frequently referred to as a "sport for all dogs".
Any dog with good physical agility and energy is a strong candidate for the sport. Though many breeds appear more naturally adapted to the sport, more than 150 breeds (including mixed-breeds as a single group) have demonstrated their ability to perform well.
USDAA has four basic height divisions within each of its competitive programs. The jump height class is defined by which program you may choose to compete in based upon the measurements as shown below:
- dogs measuring 12" (30.48cm) or less must jump at least 12" (30.48cm),
- dogs measuring 16" (40.64cm) or less jump at least 16" (40.64cm),
- dogs measuring 21" (53.34cm) or less jump at least 22" (55.88cm), and
- dogs measuring over 21" (53.34cm) must jump at least 26" (66.04cm).
- dogs measuring 12" (30.48cm) or less must jump at least 8" (20.32cm),
- dogs measuring 16" (40.64 cm) or less jump at least 12" (30.48cm),
- dogs measuring 21" (53.34cm) or less jump at least 16" (40.64cm), and
- dogs measuring over 21" (53.34cm) must jump at least 22" (55.88cm).
The Championship Program jumping height classes were developed to be congruous with international standards demonstrating the highest standard in training and performance, fully revealing the dynamics of canine performance capabilities. Time has proven that these jump heights provide both a fair and safe competitive environment when a dog is trained properly.
The Performance Program was developed for recreational competition purposes, placing less emphasis on demonstrating the agility of the dog. This program offers lower jumping heights for dogs, more generous time constraints on course, and a lower A-frame for all height classes that requires less strength and muscular control to perform.
USDAA promotes dog agility as a athletic, spectator sport in its own right, as it offers enthusiasts a variety of competitive classes in addition to the standard agility class, such as gambler's choice where handlers choose the obstacles to be performed, team relay where handlers team up to run a course, jumpers where competitors demonstrate their training and handling expertise with their dogs performing a fast course comprised of various styles of jumps and hurdles, and snooker agility where handlers choose their route on course following the principal strategy rules of the billiards game of snooker.
Though agility is a competitive, athletic sport, USDAA also promotes dog agility as a community sport, as it offers families a fun alternative for spending quality time with their pet, whether in the Championship, Performance or Junior Handler program. The obstacles are relatively easy to train, and a handler and their dog can do reasonably well and have fun without the hours of training required in other competitive canine activities; however, as with any sport, considerable time and energy is required to be highly competitive. As a commitment to promoting dog agility in the community, USDAA has developed a junior handler program for school-age children and their pets to encourage their participation and to teach responsible pet ownership.
USDAA's primary function is to promote dog agility as an international competitive, athletic sporting activity. This involves development and promotion of dog agility certification tests and tournament events, which USDAA conducts through a network of well over 100 licensed groups across North America and overseas. In support of this purpose, USDAA disseminates information on dog agility to educate the public on the sport through its web site and distribution of fact sheets and other materials through the mail. USDAA also is a ready source for books that provide instruction on agility training, building obstacles and designing agility courses. Further, USDAA offers lectures, working seminars and training seminars to qualify judges to meet the demanding standards of the sport.
USDAA and its growing number of licensed groups across North America host agility certification classes to test a competitor's expertise in training and handling such that they fully demonstrate a dog's natural agility pursuant to standards established by USDAA's board of directors. Participants may earn certification titles, such as Agility Dog®, Advanced Agility Dog® and Master Agility Dog® in USDAA's Championship Program, as well as titles offered through the USDAA Junior Handler Program and Performance Program. Certification titles are offered for both standard and nonstandard classes – standard agility, gambler's choice, snooker agility, jumpers and relay – to provide recognition for a wide variety of accomplishments. For those who excel, competitors may earn the coveted Agility Dog Champion® title, and continue to measure their excellence through bronze, silver, gold and platinum level designations in each class. Similar titles are offered in USDAA's Performance Program.
USDAA's competitive tournament events include the prestigious Grand Prix of Dog Agility® World Championships, Dog Agility Steeplechase® and Dog Agility Masters® International Three-Dog Team Championship. Since the Grand Prix's inception in 1988, the tournament has grown to include more than 150 qualifying events each year that are held across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Japan. The local qualifying events lead to regional championships and the World Championships. The Dog Agility Masters® team championships is a pentathlon event, which is promoted internationally, and the Dog Agility Steeplechase® championship features speed in jumping competition and carrying cash prizes up to more than $25,000 each year. Championships for all three tournaments are held as signature events at USDAA's World Cynosport® Games each fall.
Locate a Group in your area so that you can try dog agility first-hand. You may also like to attend an agility test or demonstration scheduled for your area, which you can find by visiting our Event Calendar. Browsing through USDAA Official Rules and Regulations will also prove helpful in further explaining the philosophies and programs offered by USDAA.
Dogs must be registered with the United States Dog Agility Association in order to compete in USDAA events and are eligible to compete upon reaching 18 months of age. You may register your dog online, or register by mail by obtaining a registration form through our web site via the Forms & Documents Library or by making request via Email and providing your postal address. If registering by mail, send the completed form along with the applicable fees to USDAA, P.O. Box 850955, Richardson, TX 75085-0955.
If you are unable to register online and wish to register a dog at the same time that you enroll for competition at an event, you may complete the form and send with applicable fees to the event host group, along with your event entry form. Registration forms may also be included in the Agility Test Schedule (aka, premium list) for each event.
The fee is $20.00 for registration. A separate registration is required for a dog and handler under age 18 to participate in the Junior Handler Program.
After receiving your temporary dog registration card, please review it closely for accuracy and report any corrections to USDAA immediately. It is best to communicate these in writing to assure proper corrections are made. You can email corrections to: CompetitorServices@usdaa.com, or mail to USDAA, PO Box 850955, Richardson, TX 75085.
Also, be aware that all registration cards are issued reflecting a dog's Championship Program jump height ONLY, to provide a common point of reference for all dogs. If you enter the Performance Program (or Junior Handler Program, if it is a junior handler registration), you will enter your dog in one height class lower than that indicated on your card.
Temporary cards with a recorded height making a dog eligible only for the 26" jump height may be returned after checking for accuracy if the dog is 18 months old so that a permanent card may be issued. If your dog falls into this category, you have never had your dog measured or the height turned in is a best guess, we recommend having the dog measured at least once to be sure that the dog is eligible only for the 26" height class.
Please note that assumptions may have been made for some registrations:
1. If you have not reported a height for your dog, your dog has been listed for the 26" height class. To enter another class, you must provide us with a height.
2. A restriction has been placed on your card if you did not report a birth date for your dog or if your dog is not of age for competition (18 months). You must report a birth date to remove the restriction if your card shows no birth date. If you incorrectly listed your dog's birthdate during registration, proof of correct date of birth must be provided when requesting this correction.
On the back of the card is the Judges Certification form. To be permanently carded, a dog must:
-- be in the 26" class and at least 18 months old, or
-- have been measured by three different judges from the "Advanced" and/or "Masters Approved Judges List, at least one of which is designated as a "certified measuring judge' (CMJ). As of January 1, 2005, CMJ's are: Scot Bartley, Sheri Boone, Scott Chamberlain, Chris Danielly, Dan Dege, Martin Gadsby, Candy Gaiser, Janet Gauntt, Karen Gloor, David Hanson, Tom Kula, Tim Laubach, Jean MacKenzie, Stuart Mah, Joe Sare, Lori Schulz, Tom Schulz, Paul Stolzenburg, Kenneth Tatsch, Tim Verrelli, Carol Voelker, Mike Wagner, Cherie Whittenberg, Mark Wirant and Darlene Woz.
If the dog is under the age of three and any of its measurement are within one inch of the cutoff height (i.e. 11"-12" for the 12" height class; 15"-16" for the 16" height class or 20"-21" for the 22" height class), the dog must be re-measured by a CMJ after reaching the age of three to establish its permanent height. If the CMJ determines that the dog should jump a height different from that previously determined, another CMJ shall make an independent measurement. If the two CMJ's do not agree, a third CMJ shall measure the dog, and the two CMJ's in agreement shall determine the official height. If none of the original three measurements are within the one-inch range, then a permanent card may be issued prior to age three.
Upon meeting the foregoing conditions, return the original card to the address listed below and a permanent height card will be issued by USDAA. By doing so, you will no longer have to 'measure-in' at an event, provided you present the permanent card at check-in.
Any questions or difficulties regarding the measurement process should be directed to:
USDAA - P. O. Box 850955 - Richardson, TX 75085-0955 - (972) 487-2200 or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You should carry your card to each event to show to the event secretary (or other designated individual) at check-in. This will enable them to visually validate your number against what they have recorded in the event records. Transcription errors in dog registration numbers are the number one error in event results reporting. So whether the secretary (or their designee) asks or not, it is in your best interest to have them check it to confirm that your registration number is recorded properly at all local events.
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