Dog agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles. Consequently the handler's controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.
In its simplest form, an agility course consists of a set of standard obstacles laid out by a judge in a design of his or her own choosing in an area of a specified size. The surface may be of grass, dirt, rubber, or special matting. Depending on the type of competition, the obstacles may be marked with numbers indicating the order in which they must be completed.
Courses are complicated enough that a dog could not complete them correctly without human direction. In competition, the handler must assess the course, decide on handling strategies, and direct the dog through the course, with precision and speed equally important. Many strategies exist to compensate for the inherent difference in human and dog speeds and the strengths and weaknesses of the various dogs and handlers.
Training a dog to participate in AKC obedience trials increases a dog's understanding and reliability in responding to commands such as "sit", "down", "stay", "come", and "heel." At a trial, the dog and handler will perform various predefined obedience exercises, which will be evaluated and scored by a judge. The dog must demonstrate basic proficiency in order to receive a passing score (170 points out of a possible 200, and more than 50% of the points allocated to each exercise). A handler may choose to train for higher degrees of accuracy and style in order to receive more points. For example, on a recall, to receive a perfect score the dog must come at a trot or run directly to the handler, without sniffing or veering to one side, and sit straight in front of the handler, not at an angle or off to one side or the other.
The dog and handler teams with the four highest scores in a given class will receive placement ribbons, and sometimes additional prizes. All dogs that receive a passing, or "qualifying" score earn a "leg" towards an obedience title. When a dog has accumulated the requisite number of legs for a given title, the AKC will issue a certificate to the dog's owner recognizing that accomplishment.
Obedience competition provides an opportunity for a person and a dog to work as a highly tuned team. Training for obedience trials can provide much needed mental stimulation and physical activity for a bored housepet, and provide a fun and challenging hobby for the dog's owner.
A Conformation show, also referred to as a breed show, is a kind of dog show in which a judge familiar with a specific dog breed evaluates individual purebred dogs for how well the dogs conform to the established breed type for their breed, as described in a breed's individual breed standard.
Such shows are useful to breeders as a means of evaluating dogs for breeding purposes. A conformation championship from a recognized national kennel club is generally considered a reasonably objective indication of merit, as it indicates that the dog has been found to be a superior example of its breed by some number of different judges on some number of separate occasions. Many breeders even consider championship a prerequisite for breeding.
The purpose of Barn Hunt is to demonstrate a dog’s vermin hunting ability in finding and marking rats in a “barn-like” setting, using straw/hay bales to introduce climbing and tunneling obstacles in the dog’s path. Barn Hunt is based on the skills historically used by itinerant “ratcatchers” in traveling the countryside, ridding farms of vermin, thus helping conserve and preserve food grains and cutting down on disease.
While ratcatchers often used breeds such as Jack/Parson Russell Terriers, they also used other non go-to-ground breeds such as Manchester Terriers, Rat Terriers, and a variety of breeds and mixes of small to medium size. Some breeds have never had an officially licensed test which truly emulates their traditional working task. Barn Hunt will fill that role.
Barn Hunt is also for any breed or mix of dog who loves to hunt and who can fit through an 18” wide gap between two hay bales. It will test speed, agility, and surefootedness. While not specifically targeted at larger dogs or dogs without a vermin hunting history, Barn Hunt is all inclusive and fun for any dog and human who wishes to play the game.
AKC Rally is the new dog sport that is taking the nation by storm, a successful stepping stone from the AKC Canine Good Citizen® program to the world of obedience or agility. Rally offers both the dogs and handlers an experience that is fun and energizing. The canine team moves at their own pace, very similar to rally-style auto racing. Rally was designed with the traditional pet owner in mind, but it can still be very challenging for those who enjoy higher levels of competition.
A rally course includes 10 to 20 stations, depending on the level. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience. Communication between handler and dog is encouraged and perfect heel position is not required, but there should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler. The main objective of rally is to produce dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect positively on the sport of rally at all times and under all conditions.
Cook Inlet Kennel Club