Border Terriers and Agility Trials

Warning – Agility can be addicting!!! They ought to put this warning at all agility classes and all agility shows. Because its true, this is the ultimate fun sport with your Border Terrier.

Agility began in England in 1978 as an interlude between the completion of the obedience competition and the beginning of the best of breed at Crufts. It instantly became a hit, with both the audience and the participants. Agility first came to the U.S. in 1986, and its growth has been nothing short of explosive. Among the organizations hosting agility competitions are the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Each organization offers titles and local and national competitions.

In agility, the dog and handler must work as a team and negotiate their way through a course of jumps, tunnels, a wall (called an A-frame), a dog walk (looks like a balance beam), a teeter totter, and other obstacles. They “dance” through the course like a ballroom dance, with the handler being the lead and the dog being her partner.

People and dogs love agility for many reasons. It is one of the few sports where all family members can participate and compete as equals. It does not have to be the parents watching while the kids have fun playing, or the kids watching while the parents have fun playing. Everyone can join in the fun and games. This can truly be a family affair. It is great exercise for both the humans and dogs, keeping both team members fit. The dogs love the dance at least as much as the human half of the team; just watch an agility competition or class and you will see dogs and humans having a total blast!!!!

There are lots of opportunities to participate in agility training. Almost every community now has agility classes. And in most parts of the country, you can find an agility trial within driving distance most weekends of the years.

In AKC, there are 3 separate events, each offered at all 3 levels of competition. The 3 events are Standard, Jumpers with Weaves and FAST. Jumpers with Weaves is a course with jumps, tunnels and weave poles. FAST (which stands for Fifteen and Send Time) is a distance events where the team must earn a specified number of points performing obstacles and, in addition, negotiate 2 or 3 obstacles behind a line set by the judge (called the bonus).

The newest dogs compete at the Novice level. Once a team has earned 3 qualifying scores in an event at the Novice level, they graduate up to the Open level. The courses in Open are more difficult, and the course time is shorter, so the team has less time to successfully negotiate the course. When the team has earned 3 qualifying scores in Open, they move up to the hardest level called Excellent. The team must earn 3 qualifying scores in Excellent A before they can compete in Excellent B.

The highest title in AKC is called the MACH (Master Agility Champion). To earn a MACH, the dog and handler team must qualify both in Excellent B Standard and in Excellent B Jumpers with Weaves on the same day (called a double Q). They must do this 20 times. In addition, they must earn 750 speed points (a point is earned for each full second under the standard course time that they run). BT’s are naturals in this sport, and win lots of ribbons and applause for their efforts.