What Are the Rules of Dog Agility?

Dog agility is an exciting and rewarding activity for you and your dog. It involves your pup navigating an obstacle course consisting of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and other obstacles, with the goal of completing it as quickly and accurately as possible. If you’re looking to get involved in the sport, make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules so you can have a successful and safe time with your pup. Knowing the regulations ahead of time will ensure you and your pup have the most enjoyable experience possible!

Rules and Regulations

When it comes to dog agility, it is important to understand the rules and regulations of the sport. This will ensure that you and your four-legged friend have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Your dog must start from a designated area that has been decided by the judge. This position should be consistent throughout the course, as any variation may cause a fault.

The contact obstacles, such as A-frames, dog walks and seesaws, must be completed with all the necessary points of contact being made. Any non-contact obstacles, for example, tunnels, jumps and weave poles must be completed with the correct direction and in the correct order.

There is a time limit for completing the course. This is usually set by the judge and is based on the number of obstacles, the size of the course, and the age and breed of the dog. Only the handler is allowed on the course when the dog is competing.

This will ensure it is a fair race for all participants.

When it comes to scoring, the judge will usually award points for each obstacle that is completed accurately, as well as for the time it took to complete the course, and the accuracy of the handler. Points will be deducted if the dog does not complete the course within the set time limit or if there is any fault committed. Understanding the rules of the game, and the scoring system, is essential when participating in dog agility. This will ensure that you and your pup are ready to have a great time!

Starting Position

When it comes to starting your dog agility run, there are a few important rules to remember. First and foremost, the dog and handler must start from behind a designated starting line.

This will give you a good place to begin your run and help ensure your dog is not distracted by any other participants in the course. The handler must give a verbal cue to the dog to start the run.

This cue is an important part of the run, as it signals the dog to get started and move forward. The handler must ensure they remain behind the starting line until their dog has completed the first obstacle. This is essential to ensure the dog gains the momentum they need to complete the course.

It is important to remember that the starting position of the dog is a key factor in the success of the run. If the handler is too close or too far from the starting line, or does not give the correct verbal cue to the dog, then the run may not be successful.

It is important to practice the starting position with your dog in order to perfect it before your next competition.

Following these simple rules when it comes to your starting position in dog agility competitions will help ensure your success. It is important to practice your starting position at home to perfect it and give your dog the best chance of success. Be sure to remember to give your dog the correct verbal cue when it’s time to start the run. If you keep these rules in mind and practice the starting position, you will have the best chance of success in your next agility competition.

Contact Obstacles

When it comes to contact obstacles, it is important to remember that your dog must make physical contact with the obstacle. This means that if you’re running an A-frame, your pup must go up, over and back down the A-frame. For a dog walk, your pup must go up, over and back down the plank.

If your pup only partially completes the obstacle, they will be given a refusal and you will have to take it again. Another important guideline to remember is that your pup must complete the obstacle in the correct order.

If your pup takes one obstacle out of order, they will receive a refusal and you will have to start again.

It’s important to practice your course beforehand to ensure that your pup knows the order in which to complete the obstacles. It is essential to keep your pup moving throughout the obstacle course. If your pup stops or hesitates before taking an obstacle, they will be given a refusal and you will have to take it again. It’s best to use positive encouragement and rewards to motivate your pup to stay on course.

Non-Contact Obstacles

Non-contact obstacles in a dog agility course may include jumps, tunnels, tire jumps and A-frames. When running these obstacles, the handler must ensure the dog follows their guidance and instructions; the handler should use a confident and encouraging tone and body language.

Handlers must also ensure their dog takes the appropriate path while running the obstacle course to avoid incurring penalties. Handlers must remain aware of their dog’s position on the course and must allow their dog to navigate the obstacles at their own pace. In order to ensure their dog’s safety, handlers must always keep their dog on a leash and should always stay within the designated area at all times.

The handler should be mindful of their dog’s safety by avoiding sudden changes in direction, sudden stops or sharp turns. If a handler is ever unsure of how to handle certain obstacles, they should consult with a qualified agility instructor. Following these rules during a dog agility course will not only keep the dog and handler safe, but it will also ensure that their performance is enjoyable and successful.


Sequencing is an important aspect of dog agility and requires careful planning and practice. You must create a course that allows your dog to run from obstacle to obstacle in the proper order. You must also be aware of what obstacles will come next, so that you can guide your dog in the right direction.

When planning your course, consider the flow of the course.

You may want to keep the jumps and tunnels together, so your dog can move quickly from one to the next. It’s important to set up the course so that there is enough space between obstacles for your dog to turn and prepare for the next obstacle. Consider the difficulty of the course and add obstacles that are appropriate for your dog’s level. With proper sequencing, you and your dog can have a successful agility run.

Time Limit

Time limits are an important part of participating in dog agility. If you don’t complete the course within a certain amount of time, you’ll be penalized. A typical time limit is usually anywhere between 40 and 70 seconds, depending on the difficulty of the course.

So make sure you practice running your course with your pup in a timely manner to make sure they don’t go over the allotted time. For novice handlers, it’s important to give yourself and your pup more time to complete the course.

This gives them a chance to get used to the obstacles and get acclimated to the environment. If you’re an experienced handler and are looking to add an extra challenge to your course, you can try competing against the clock, although it’s important to be aware of the time limit so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.


As a handler, you need to understand your role in the agility competition. Your main task is to direct and encourage the dog throughout the course.

You must be able to accurately read and interpret the rules and regulations so you don’t get disqualified for any mistakes you make. You must also possess excellent communication and problem-solving skills in order to strategize and make sure your dog is successful.

You must be able to maintain a positive attitude and remain calm and composed even if you make a mistake or your dog does not complete the course correctly. When competing, you must always be aware of your dog’s safety, so be sure to keep a close watch on your pup at all times.

You should ensure that your dog is thoroughly exercised prior to entering the competition. This will help to keep your pup at peak performance and will minimize the chances of your dog tiring too quickly while going through the course. Make sure to give your pup plenty of praise and rewards throughout the competition to keep them motivated and encourage them to do their best.


Scoring in dog agility is based on accuracy and speed. The faster you complete the course without any errors, the more points you will earn. Each obstacle has its own set of rules and a different number of points attached to it.

If you or your dog make an error, the points are deducted. Time faults may also be incurred if the course is not completed within the set time limit.

Make sure to read the rules of the course before attempting it, so that you know what you are doing and can stay on track.

It is important to understand the scoring system and the rules of the course in order to maximize your points and have an enjoyable experience. If you make a mistake, you will be penalized, so it is important to be mindful of the rules and make sure you and your dog are familiar with the course. Make sure to practice the course in advance and take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules for the best chance at a successful run.

Megan Turner

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