Crufts is hailed as the world’s biggest dog show and this year it takes place at the NEC Birmingham between 8th and 11th March. CK9’s very own Chantal Karyta and two of her dogs will be competing in the ABC Dog Agility class in the Main ring at Crufts on Friday 9th March.
This is not Chantal’s first time competing at Crufts, in fact it’s the fourth consecutive year for her and six year old Sheltie Savannah. Splash, also a sheltie is just 3 years old and although this will be his first visit to Crufts, he’s no stranger to the show ring.
What is ABC Dog Agility?
Dog agility is an amazing sport. It’s a great way to develop a strong bond between dog and handler and it helps both to keep fit mentally and physically. It involves the dog, guided by his or her handler, completing a series of obstacles against the clock. The obstacles include jumps, tunnels, a seesaw, weave poles and an A frame and dog walk.
The really difficult bit about dog agility is that the dog must be off lead and all treats and toys are banned from the show ring. Neither is the handler allowed to touch any of the obstacles. The dog-handler team are completely reliant on voice commands, body language and hand signals. The speed of the course requires amazing communication skills and fantastic co-ordination from dog and handler. It’s pretty challenging!
The ABC in ABC Dog Agility stands for “anything but collies”. If you’ve ever watched dog agility on TV, at a dog show or at events like the Surrey County Show you will probably have spotted that Border Collies are particularly adept at this sport.
The Border collie is bred for working on difficult terrain and responding quickly to commands usually at quite a distance from the handler. Those qualities, along with their high energy and flexible bodies are all perfect for dog agility. However, that doesn’t mean that other breeds don’t enjoy agility too. It just means that border collies are unfair competition for them.
To make the competition fair, organisers have devised classes for agility that allow dogs to compete on even terms. In the ABC category, the dogs are classified according to size. Chantal’s shelties are in the medium class.
How Do You Get To Compete At Crufts?
Crufts is equivalent to the FA Cup Final. It’s only open to teams who have proved that they can compete to the highest possible standard. Every dog and every handler at Crufts will have spent the preceding 12 months competing at regional shows to prove that they are among the elite.
Teams like Chantal and Splash will have trained together a lot before entering competitions. It’s all about the relationship between dog and handler and of course, like any other sport, it’s practise, practise, practise.
Get involved with dog agility
Any dog and any handler can enjoy dog agility. You don’t have to reach Crufts standard to have fun. You don’t even need to enter competitions to benefit from the sport.
If you’re lucky enough to live within easy driving distance of one of our classes – join up and come along. All we ask is that your dog gets on well with other dogs and with people and that he comes back to you when he’s called. All of the other skills and commands will be taught at class.
Visit Crufts 2018 http://www.crufts.org.uk/
More about dog agility classes in Surrey https://www.ck9training.co.uk/adult-dog-services/agility-training/