What Is A Dog Agility Course And What Are The Obstacles?

Understanding what a dog agility course is and teaching your dog how to master the required obstacles are both keys to winning this popular dog sport competition. By utilizing these practical tips, it is possible to train your dog how to run through the obstacle course successfully.

So, what exactly is a dog Agility course? A dog agility course is a fun and competitive obstacle course for canines. The handler directs his/her dog through 14 to 20 obstacles focusing on accuracy, speed and teamwork between the dog and it’s owner/handler.

Knowing what the required obstacles are can help dog owners train their pups to be guided through the maze of obstacles off-leash without food, treats or touch from their owners.

Read on for more information on required dog agility course obstacles and easy dog training tips.

The Goals Of Dog Agility

The primary purpose of teaching your dog how to properly race through each obstacle of a dog agility course is to showcase how each dog and owner communicates and works together throughout the entire course.

This should be a fun exercise that can help your dog trust your verbal commands, follow your directions and execute those instructions by conquering each obstacle perfectly and in unison.

There are many benefits of teaching your dog how to master each obstacle encountered on an agility course for dogs. These benefits include:

  • Increased fitness
  • Better overall obedience
  • Improved concentration
  • Builds owner/dog bonding

Competitive Dog Agility Course Competitions

The intriguing history of today’s popular competitive dog agility course competitions began with the natural bonding process of a dog and his owner since time began.

This is meant to be a fun yet challenging canine sport in which dogs are verbally guided by their owners/handlers through a number of various obstacles along the way.

The current actual dog agility training methods began in England during the year 1978. This country’s first agility trial race was held in 1994 by The American Kennel Club.

Since then, the AKC boasts that this interactive dog/owner agility training is now one of the most popular and fastest-growing types of dog sport within the United States in recent years. This ever-increasing trend is not expected to slow down anytime soon.

While some dog owners enroll their beloved pooches in professional dog agility training classes, other dog owners either purchase competition-grade obstacle items or build their own agility training courses for their dogs right in their own backyards.

It is essential that each obstacle adheres to this competitive dog sport’s precise regulation requirements exactly for the best end results.

Obstacles Found In A Dog Agility Course

The rules and regulations regarding current competitive dog agility course details must be followed accurately. This dog sport includes a number of different levels, and these levels will have some minor differences in the specifically required obstacles.

Generally, there are three contact type obstacles used in a regulation agility course for canines. These ‘contact obstacles’ include:

  • A-Frame
  • Dog Walk
  • See-Saw

In addition to these, each course should include other various obstacle set-ups such as:

  • At Least 1 Pipe Tunnel
  • Grouping of 10 to 12 Weaving Poles
  • Table and/or Pause Box
  • A Tire Jump
  • 3 Winged Hurdles (with 1 being a Spread Hurdle)

Contact Obstacles

Per dog agility course sport competition regulations, the course will include 3 various contact type obstacles. These obstacles have the contact areas highlighted with bright colors, and dogs should be trained on how to ensure that their paws make contact on each obstacle course contact regions.


The A-frame is made by connecting two ramps hinged together in the expected triangular design. These ramps must adhere to the precise measurements for competition training. Additionally, the lower bottoms of each ramp portion must be painted a different color in order to clearly mark the contact areas where the dog needs to make contact.

It is also essential to ensure that each ramp is covered with an anti-slip surface, and a number of anti-slip slats are to be placed at certain intervals as instructed.

Dog Walk

A dog walk is crafted out of regulation length and height walking board with specifically angled ramps on each walking plank end. This obstacle item should also be covered with an anti-slip surface that meets competition requirements.

Again, anti-skid slats are to be placed at different intervals without invading the crucial contact region. This contact area should again be painted a noticeably different color to ensure fair judging during the competitive event.


When building a regulation see-saw for the dog agility course, it is also crucial to follow the measurement guidelines exactly as stated by competition regulations. Unlike a typical playground see-saw that humans are familiar with, the dog see-saw version doesn’t require two dogs.

One board is attached firmly to a central bracket. This item should also have clearly distinguished color coded contact areas, The see-saw should have an anti-slip material surface, but no slats are allowed.

Other Featured Obstacles

Along with the required contact course obstacles, there are a number of various additional obstacles often found in a dog agility course.

Pipe Tunnel

There should be at least 1 pipe tunnel included in an agility course for canines. This tunnel is generally curved or bent so the dog doesn’t see the tunnel end. This ensures that the dog is following their handler’s voice commands to navigate through the tunnel.

Weave Poles

Weave poles are arguably one of the toughest dog agility course obstacle selections to teach a dog. Usually, 10 to 12 weaving poles are set-up in a grouping that the dog participants must weave their way through.

There should be a stabilizing base, and the poles need to be placed together in a straight and continuous line that challenges a dog’s memory and skill with this obstacle.

Table or Pause Box

This obstacle is fairly self-explanatory. The size dimensions for this obstacle will differ depending on the course level and breed of dog competing. The elevated table surface should be non-skid as well.

Tire Jump

Tire jumps are often called hoops. This obstacle requires a tire or hoop with elements that are easy to displace. These obstacle items also have size and height regulated measurements to follow.

Winged Hurdles

Typically, a dog agility training or competition course will have at least 3 winged styled hurdles. The height of the hurdle poles must be strategically placed and varies depending on the dog’s size and difficulty level of the course. At least one of these hurdles must be used as a spread hurdle.

Related Questions

What Are the Age and Breed Requirements for Dog Agility Course Training?

To compete in an actual canine agility competition, the dog must be at least 15 months of age. There are competitions for pure and mixed breeds with varying skill levels and obstacle size measurements included in each event.

How Do I Determine if My Dog is Suited for Agility Training?

There are a number of differing agility course events suited for a wide range of dog breeds. Those typical hunting breeds, normally energetic dogs and breeds that are more athletic are ideal candidates for this dog sport. Other dog attributes that are usually desired for dog competition events like dog agility courses include higher intelligence, people-loving, social and being in good health.

That’s A Wrap!

Dog agility training is an excellent way for dog owners to bond with their pets. Before embarking on any type of exercise including dog agility training, be sure to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian to determine your pet’s health condition.

Dog owners can enroll their dogs into reputable dog agility training sessions, or they can make their own agility course right in their backyard.

Agility training for dogs provides a safe and healthy activity that dogs and their owners can enjoy together. There are a number of agility schools and clubs for dogs, and this type of dog sport should be fun for the dog and owner alike.

There are some terrific benefits of dog agility training that can include closer bonds between pets and their owners, keeps dogs fit, provides mental stimulation and can help improve a dog’s behavior as well.

There are other fantastic benefits of this kind of dog competitive sport that can include being among others with similar interests. This kind of activity can be good for both the dog and the dog owner too.