An agility competition is not just run on one course. It can also feature several types of courses of “events”.
A Standard Agility Course-must includes jumps, three contact obstacles, weave poles, the table, the flexible tunnel and chute.
The Gamblers Agility Course requires the dog to successfully complete as many obstacles as possible within a set time allowed in an opening sequence. The obstacles each receive a different point value. Common values are 1 point for jumps, 2 points for navigating tires and tunnels, 3 points for mastering contact obstacles, and 3 to 5 points for navigating weave poles. The opening sequence expires with blow of a whistle, at which point the handler has a shorter set time to complete a closing sequence. This final sequence or “gamble” must be done with the handler remaining outside a prescribed area that is defined with rope or tape. A minimum number of points are required within a minimum amount of time.
A Jumpers Agility Course is composed of jumps, tires, tunnels, and chutes. This game is probably the most popular event by many competitor and spectators alike. This because involves excellent handling skills and real teamwork between the dog and the handler.
The Team Relay Agility Course involves two dogs. It is designed to show off the handler’s control, team spirit, strategy and sportsmanship. Relay involves a course layout similar to the standard agility course. The course is divided in sections and each dog on the team is selected by the team members to run a specified section of the course… Upon completing their respective section, the handler passes a baton in a specified area to allow the next handler to continue on the next section. Failure to pass the baton in the specified area results in the elimination of the team.
The Snooker Relay is based on the British game of Billiards. There are two separate sequences. The opening sequence requires the handler to perform one of 3 or 4 designated (red) jumps followed by an obstacle of choice, and repeat this pattern at least twice more. A third time is an option left to the judges discretion and outlined in the briefing. The closing sequence requires the dog to follow the obstacles numbered 2 to 7. The game is based on points accumulated and as long as the dog has reached or surpassed the required point level, a qualifying score will be earned.
Each course has Starters, Advanced and Master levels. Obviously the level of difficulty of the obstacle course increases substantially with each level.
In the United States, there are several national organizations for agility, which sanction tests or trials held by local dog training clubs. Trials which are based on the original international rules and specifications call for the highest level of agility from the dogs both in terms of speed and the physical ability to perform the obstacles. There are also domestic varieties of the sport that call for less actual agility (by using lower jump heights and smaller obstacles) from the dog and focus more on the handling aspects of the game.