There are lots of dog agility classes across the UK where beginners are welcome, but not all of us know what to look for when we are just starting, so this article will list some classes in and surrounding some of the cities across the country as well as looking at;
- How to choose an agility club
- Costs involved
- Do you really need lessons?
- What the course includes
What are Dog Agility Classes
This dog sport is becoming increasingly popular, with more and more people wanting to become involved. It’s a fantastic way to improve your relationship with your pooch and is good exercise, too, something we could all benefit from, especially for breeds that never seem to run out of steam like Huskies and Border Collies.
You will learn how to communicate with your dog with hand signals and body language as they jump over hurdles, weave around poles and master the contact zone of the A-frame.
Most schools run blocks of courses around 6-10 weeks which cater from novices to advanced; some will even have 1-2-1 sessions tackling a particular obstacle.
Your four-legged friend needs to be able to sit, stay, heel and have a good recall as well as being good with other dogs as much of the work is done off-leash
How to Choose the Right Dog Agility Club
When you choose a club, it’s important to check out the reviews. Always make sure the equipment is safe and secure and they do not allow youngsters to attempt jumps as this may damage a dog’s bones.
The trainer should be accredited and preferably compete in the sport, so they know how to keep at least one paw on the contact zone of a seesaw. Some training schools have only an outdoor arena, so classes can be weather dependent.
Prices vary enormously; you will find KC registered clubs tend to have an annual membership fee and then you pay a small fee weekly, whereas others will charge a set price for a block booking, of course, if you would prefer a one on one experience, the costs will be more.
Then there is the equipment; you obviously need to practice at home and whilst you may be able to construct a jump or two in the back garden, you may need to purchase a tunnel for dog agility or perhaps a hoop jump; these can be found relatively cheaply online.
If you are serious about competing you may also need to consider petrol costs to travel to shows and even overnight stays, this can all add up, but if you are doing agility just for the enjoyment, it needn’t cost the earth.
What’s included in a Dog Agility Course?
A puppy foundation course focuses on the basics of how to motivate your pooch, learning the basic signals, perhaps having Fido jump over a low obstacle or get used to the tunnel; it will teach your dog to ignore distractions and build a trusting relationship.
The Intermediate courses are usually for dogs over a year old and will tackle more difficult obstacles like the weave poles and seesaw whilst building up speed.
Advanced courses are for experienced handlers who need practice or work on specific problems with a specific obstacle.
Do You need Agility Training Classes? Can You Do This at Home
Of course, you can do agility at home; after all, sometimes a dog walk just isn’t enough, and you can easily set up dog agility obstacles in your garden.
However, during the research for this article, we found that many of the clubs run events, walks and have an excellent community spirit, so if you want the social aspect and want to meet like-minded owners, we definitely recommend joining a club.
3 Recommended Classes in the UK’s Top 9 Cities
1.Dog Agility Training Classes in London
PERFECT DOG – BRIXTON
Ideal for both beginners and more advanced handlers, this course runs for six weeks and costs £120. We love that all proceeds go to the Ebony Horse Club charity in Brixton, where it is held on a Monday evening.
You can find more information on their website www.perfectdog.co.uk
MUDCHUTE FARM DOG AGILITY – ISLE OF DOGS
Nestled in the heart of East London, renowned dog trainer Angus Macfarlane runs agility courses that last for 8 weeks and cost approx £150. Get in touch with Angus on 07973 830075 for the next agility class dates.
TRENT PARK DOG AGILITY – TRENT PARK
The first agility only club in the UK this Kennel Club registered training school runs all year round and offers one or two beginners courses annually. Get in touch for a trial lesson to see which classes best suit your pup’s ability.
2.Dog Agility Training in Manchester
FLIXTON DOG TRAINING CLUB
This small and friendly club teaches obedience and training using the Kennel Club’s “good citizen scheme” They also do dog and pup agility training throughout the summer months (weather permitting). And puppies can learn basic commands before starting agility. Find more information on their site
This training class in Bury regularly runs beginners courses for all breeds and sizes of dogs, so whether you are an experienced handler or want to start training your dog in this exciting sport, you will find a class to suit. Check out their Facebook page for more info
Enjoy agility or hoopers with this foundation class which teaches directional control, turns, verbal and body communication, forward focus etc.; the course costs around £120 for 6 weeks and, like many local clubs, is a great way to build confidence with jumps when starting out in the hobby
3.Dog Agility Training in Birmingham
MAISIE’S PET BOUTIQUE
Maisie’s Pet Boutique offers dog agility sessions for owners living in Birmingham and surrounding areas. There are regular courses throughout the year as well as one to one sessions, so whether you want to master weave poles or take part in an agility trial, this is a great place to start.
AGILITY 4 FUN
Just half an hour’s drive from Birmingham, this fantastic agility community offers sessions for all abilities and you can progress from level 1 – level 7. You can book a block of 5 sessions for just £30. Dawn, the trainer, has competed in the sport for many years and is also a competitive judge
Located in the King’s Norton area of Birmingham, this friendly club welcomes all canines, including mixed breed dogs. Beginners can do pre agility sessions in their training sessions, and 1-2-1 training is also available. Held on a Monday and Tuesday evening, an hour-long class is only around £6.00 per dog.
4.Dog Agility Training in Liverpool
THE PAWFECT RETREAT
These fun agility classes are run by an expert agility trainer who will recommend the best course based on your dog and ability. If you want to know what hand signals to give to get your pooch over the next obstacle or how to encourage him to jump, this is a fantastic place to start.
Find out more – www.thepawfectretreat.co.uk
These fantastic classes are perfect for those wanting to start agility training. They run foundation courses if you have a young puppy to get them used to commands and signals, foot placement, etc., without compromising their growing bones and a 4-week booking is approximately £60.
This small agility club also offers basic obedience as well as fun and competitive agility. It costs around £20 per month for agility training and they also hold open days and parties, making it a real community where you can connect with like-minded owners and have fun.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details
5.Dog Agility Training in Glasgow
CLEDDONS AGILITY CLUB
This dedicated agility club is ideal if you want to progress to agility trials and competitions. It’s only £5 per year membership and just £3 a week to train. The classes which are held on a Thursday evening have no more than 8-10 dogs and you will soon master the obstacle course with their expert trainers.
Email email@example.com or call 07767868805 for more information
GLENIFFER DOG TRAINING CLUB
Just a few miles west of Glasgow, this small friendly club holds agility events throughout the year and run a beginners class on a Thursday evening. So if you want to conquer contact obstacles, practice jumps or compete in the sport, check out their Facebook page
WOODBANK AGILITY CLUB
Promoting dog agility training within Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Woodbank Agility trains both pups and handlers in all aspects of agility training for all levels of ability, whether you are just starting or have an agility dog who is keen to compete.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details
6.Dog Agility Classes in Bristol
CLIFTON AGILITY CLUB
Registered with the Kennel Club, this small club caters for beginners through to champions of the sport. They are based in south Bristol and train on a Wednesday evening. It’s easy to become a member. Just fill out the form on the website
TOP DOG AGILITY
Training is available for beginners, improvers and experienced dogs; the beginner’s course concentrates on body awareness and balance. Improvers will learn to master the weave poles and tackle obstacles like the seesaw and A-frame. The advanced class will focus on completing complicated sequences of obstacles at speed and tackle any problems.
DARK STAR AGILITY
Dark Star Dogs is a small family business that runs foundation agility training for puppies, where they learn flat work, impulse control and body awareness. The group sessions cost approx £45 for a 5-week block. There are also 1-2-1 sessions available for £32.50 per hour if you prefer dealing with just one person.
7.Dog Agility Classes in Leeds
BANK HOUSE BARKERS
Bank House Barkers offer a fabulous puppy foundation course which costs £110 for 8 sessions. Your puppy will learn the basics through games, they will get used to the jumps and tunnel and when this is completed, they can begin the serious competition style training with more challenging obstacles like the weave poles
OTLEY DTS AGILITY
.Agility classes run on a Tuesday evening and welcome all dogs from beginners to seasoned working dogs. They also run a weekend agility show annually where members chip in and help to raise money for the club. If you want to join this dog-loving group
Email club secretary Emma Wallis: OtleyDTS@Hotmail.co.uk
Like many other clubs, you must complete the foundation agility course before starting regular training sessions in the sport. This is suitable for puppies aged from 8 months. The handler learns how to communicate via signals and the puppy is taught how to focus, balance etc., with fun games. It’s a great way to practice with younger dogs, get them used to the obstacles and being off-leash around other dogs
8.Dog Agility Classes in Cardiff
They have fun agility classes on a Friday, but dogs do need basic obedience, so the best bet is to enrol on one of their obedience courses first. The Rockwood display team perform around the country and you never know; your dog could be one of their future stars.
From Canicross to Flyball, this club offers a range of sports for dogs and does an excellent “Agility from Scratch” course, which runs on a Friday evening or Saturday morning and costs £70 for 6 sessions. If your pup can complete this, you can move onto the improvers drop-in classes.
CYNLLAN LODGE DOG TRAINING CLUB
This club has been going since 1994 and has a real community feel so whether you have larger dogs with endless energy or a smaller breed that you want to have fun with, their agility courses could be just the thing. The annual membership is just £15 and £5 for the weekly club nights, which are on a Tuesday evening,
9.Dog Agility Schools in Newcastle upon Tyne
Lucy has over 30 years experience as a dog behaviourist and has competed at national level in agility, so she certainly knows what she’s doing. With competition standard equipment she offers foundation courses and 1-2-1 training sessions.
RAVEN RIVER DOG TRAINING
Situated in Bedlington, not far from Newcastle, this excellent school offers various agility courses for all levels. Most dogs start with a foundation course, an 8-week course costing £80; they also have advanced sessions that focus on mastering the obstacles in the correct order with a time limit.
BUTTERTON GRANGE K9 CENTRE
Something a bit different this arena or outside area can be booked by either the hour or half-day for experienced handlers. They also have several ongoing classes run by experienced instructors for beginners where you and your dog can learn the basics.
Dog agility is great fun, we’ve all seen the excitement at Crufts and I’m sure many dog owners would love to get involved in this brilliant hobby. The good news is; it’s really easy to get started; check out our article on beginner dog agility training. You can set up a simple course with hurdles, a pause table and a tunnel at home or enrol your dog on a puppy foundation course.
Of course, you need to make sure your pup is fit and healthy, so it’s always a good idea to have a chat with your vet before taking on any energetic activity.
Many of the clubs also offer other classes your dog may enjoy, such as Flyball, Hoopers or Canicross. Whatever breed you own, most dogs benefit from agility training and it’s one of the best ways to spend quality time with your best friend.