Agility and Jumping


Agility & Jumping with your Border Collie

Agility is a dog competition open to all dogs, which was originally developed from equestrian show jumping. The aim of this competition is for a handler to direct his dog around a course of different obstacles to assess and enhance their intelligence and ability. It is an educational and sporting activity intended to improve the dog's integration into society. Agility & Jumping trials are one of many types of ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) events in which ANKC Registered dogs are eligible compete, and there are trials held all over Australia on many weekend in a calendar year.

Running a dog in an agility trial is the ultimate game for you and your dog and is one of the most exciting canine sports for spectators. In an agility trial, a dog demonstrates its agile nature and versatility by following cues from the handler through a timed obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and other objects. It's an activity that strengthens the bond between dog and handler and provides fun and exercise for both, which might explain why it's so enjoyable to watch and has become the fastest growing dog sport around the globe!


Is my dog able to compete?

To be eligible to compete, a dog must:

  • be individually registered on the Main,  Limited, Sporting or Associate Register with the ANKC
  • be over the age of 18 months
  • neutered dogs and bitches are eligible to compete
  • bitches in oestrum are not eligible to complete


Who's the judge?

Agility Judges are responsible for the proper setting of the courses at the trials they judge. All courses are different for every trial and they must meet certain guideline standards, established by the ANKC, to ensure safety and consistency. Judges hold a "briefing" with the exhibitors prior to competition at each trial to summarise the class rules, order of obstacles and the expected time for each course.

The judge is on the course during the dog's 'run' to determine any errors, or "faults," the handler or dog may commit. The judge then signals those faults to a "scribe," who records the dog's score and time. At the end of each class, the judge checks the scribe sheets and then awards placings for the class.


How does a trial run?

Once the judge has set up the course and determined the sequence of obstacles, handlers are allowed a "walk through," which is completed as a group, without the dogs. Handlers follow the numbers set at each obstacle to become familiar with the course. Most handlers walk the course as many times as they can in the time allotted to plan their handling strategy. Exhibitors may even gather in a small groups to discuss potential challenges on the course and how best to handle them. The handler and dog operate as a team, and each pair runs the course individually, off-leash. The eventual winner is awarded to the team who not only completes the set course in the quickest time, but also with the least amount of faults.


What are the different classes and levels of competition?

Agility competitions are divided into two broad categories – Agility which involves a range of obstacles including assorted winged and tyre jumps, A-frames, see-saws, weaving poles and tunnels – and Jumping which consists of a series of basic jumps in formation.  For each category classes are run according to experience, with Novice, Excellent, Master and Open classes for both Agility and Jumping.  The height of the jumps is determined by the height of the dog at its withers. 

By gaining qualifications in each class, dog and Handler gain titles which are shown at the end of the dog’s registered name. Dogs that show particular proficiency in this discipline may be eligible to qualify as an Agility Champion, which is a highly esteemed accolade. 

Because of the growing popularity of the sport, Agility Games are now also offered at many trials and again provide opportunities for dog and Handler to gain additional titles – Snooker, Gamblers and Strategic Pairs are additional classes to compete in.


How are faults given?

Agility is a time and fault sport where the qualifying requirements are more challenging as the competition class levels advance. There are two types of faults:

Time faults are given for every second a dog exceeds the Standard Course Time.

Penalty faults are those that a judge may assess of a handler and dog, and may include:

• Taking an obstacle out of sequence
• Missing a contact zone
• Displacing a bar or panel on a jump
• Running around or refusing an obstacle


How do I get started?

Local Agility clubs frequently offer training classes. Even if Agility competition is not your ultimate goal, the relationship that training forms between you and your dog will be very rewarding. Local clubs can also run "fun matches," where you and your dog can test your skills in the ring. Training and handling your dog is an exceptional and enjoyable experience. From your first attempted obstacle to the finished product of an entire course performed with speed, you and your dog will develop a bond. Border Collies thrive on attention and praise, and love to be given mentally stimulating tasks, so Agility is a discipline they genuinely enjoy! While training classes offer the best hands-on way to practice for the ring, watching exhibitors at ANKC sanctioned trials will gain you expertise in the Agility ring.

You're on your way! Agility brings many hours of enjoyment and bonding between you and your dog. You will make many friends in the sport, and enjoy your dog and your new hobby for many years to come.

The Border Collie Club of NSW conducts two Agility trials each year.

Visit the Dogs NSW website or contact the office to get in contact with your local club!


Tips for the First-Time Trialler

  • Make sure your dog is registered with the ANKC
    • Be sure your dog is current on all vaccinations
    • Learn from an experienced trainer in order to compete competently and safely
    • Join a local Agility club in your area
    • Become familiar with the ANKC regulations for Agility & Jumping trials – rules are available on the ANKC website
    • Attend Agility trials and become familiar with the ring procedure
    • Don't be afraid to ask questions of the experienced triallers
    • Attend Agility classes with your dog and practice!


Agility Terms

Course Design – Judge has previously designed the course that is run by the dog and handler. Each class has a different course design.

Standard Course Time – Judge measures the course with a surveyor's wheel and determines the Standard Course Time that will be allotted for the particular course set up for the class. The metreage of the course is determined by the measuring wheel and then configured to the allotted time for the level of the class and the height of the dogs running in the class.

Dog's Path – Judge will measure what they perceive as the typical dog's path used while performing the obstacles.

Walk Through – Time for the exhibitors, as a group, to walk the course and plan their strategy. During the walk through exhibitors determine such things as when to speed up or slow down, on which side of the handler should the dog be, when should the dog be sent ahead and where on the course can they save time.

Judges Briefing – Judge will meet with exhibitors and give them the Standard Course Time and any necessary information for that class before they run their dogs.

Approach Angles – Judges design their course so the approach to obstacles is specific to each class. Novice has mild angles. Open has moderate angles, and Excellent has angles and approaches that are the most difficult.

Faults – Penalties assessed by the judge when a dog or handler does not perform the obstacle correctly.

Refusals/Runouts – Type of fault given when the dog refuses to take the obstacle as they approach it or they run past the obstacle instead of performing it.

Wrong Course – Type of fault given when the dog does not take the next obstacle in correct sequence.

Handling Terms – "Cross in front," "cross behind," and "blind cross," refer to the handler's position to the dog that is running the course


*Article adapted from the AKC website, a valuable resource adapted with our thanks.