Young Kennel Club: fun for all the family!
Hollie is 19 years old and has two dogs, Blue who is a Harrier Hound mix aged 8 and Pixie, a 3 year-old Border Collie (and Dentbros pup!) Hollie says that mum Sarah originally started doing agility because she attended obedience classes at a group that also did agility. It looked like fun and Blue needed something to tire his brain as well as body as he was quite an active dog that easily got bored.
Hollie went along to shows with Mum and started competing in junior classes 5 years ago, competing at Crufts with Blue for the last 3 years. She also competed with Pixie in 2020, making me a very proud breeder!
The best dog for the job?
Blue is a hound cross and this can make agility training a challenge, as he’s more interested in sniffing than agility. However this can make any successes all the sweeter, especially if they compete at Crufts.
Hollie says “I was lucky to get my own dog nearly 4 years ago. She was chosen specifically with agility in mind. Collies are intelligent, fast and agile, the perfect combination for agility. We were lucky to qualify for Crufts in the Young Kennel Club competitions when she was just 2 years old.” Pixie has already achieved a number of great results and looks set to go on to greater things, the pandemic notwithstanding!
Hollie says the beauty of agility is that pretty much any dog can have a go (even dachshunds). Agility is an energetic sport and can put a strain on breathing, muscles and joints, so short-nosed dogs who have trouble breathing on vigorous exercise and heavy-set dogs, are not suitable.
Agility is fun
Agility is run in a similar way to show jumping. The fastest dog with the least faults that wins. You get 5 faults for each jump the dog knocks down or refuses. There are agility obstacles which have ‘contact points’ that the dog must touch while completing them – the seesaw, the A-frame and the dog walk. Faults are given if the dog misses these contact points (to stop them damaging their joints). You get eliminated if you take any jumps in the wrong order.
There are a lot of competitions for all levels of competitors, whether you are a beginner and want to have a go at a local club show or you’re an agility professional aiming for the main ring at Crufts and representing your country in European and World championships. It is an inclusive activity and lots of fun for you and your dog!
Why do you like it?
Hollie says “It’s a great way to have fun with your dog. It’s so rewarding when the hard work you’ve put in training pays off in the competition ring.” Agility is a very social sport, people support each other, whether you’re having a great day or it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped. It encourages you to keep fit, so you can be as fast as you can around the competition courses.
However, Hollie says it is important to remember that dogs are not machines and it takes dedication to train a dog to compete in agility. You need to be resilient. Because no matter how hard you train, it quite often doesn’t go the way you planned!
Hollie says she trains and competes in all weathers. If you like being outdoors that’s great, but there can be a lot of waiting around at competitions. If you start to get really involved, the cost of entering competitions can add up, along with entry fees. You may also need to book overnight accommodation if the competition is a distance away.
Who’s in charge and what do you need?
The governing body is the The Kennel Club. Juniors can compete in Young Kennel Club competitions, competing in one of two age groups; up to 12 and over 12 years. There are also lots of agility clubs that run independent shows not governed by the kennel club.
Agility equipment takes up quite a lot of space, so most people train at an agility club where they have full sets of equipment and space for you and your dog to train safely. All you need is a pair of trainers, comfy clothes, your dog and plenty of tasty treats or a toy they love to reward you dog for their hard work.
If you decide to really get involved in the sport you can do some training with 1 or 2 jumps and some weaves in your garden. Hollie and Sarah have also taken equipment to the local park, but she says you do get an audience 😊!
Hollie trains in a class once a week for an hour. She says that lots of people do more training, depending on what level they are at. You can really train anywhere, even while on your walks, sending your dog around obstacles, or practising a wait, which is really important. Keeping your dog’s general level of fitness is key as agility puts a lot of strain on a dogs joints and muscles and they can get injured.
Thank you so much Hollie for this invaluable insight. We wish you lots of luck on your journey with Pixie in agility!
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