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 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 pup and is good exercise, too, something we could all benefit, 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 for around 6-10 weeks, catering to 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 a Dog Agility Club
When choosing a club, checking out the reviews is essential. Always ensure 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 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 or make 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 motivating your dog, learning the primary signals, and 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 an agility 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; sometimes, a dog walk 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 and walks and have an excellent community spirit, so if you want the social aspect and want to meet like-minded owners, we 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, which 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, a 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 six weeks and, like many local clubs, is a great way to build confidence with jumps when starting 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 and 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 – to 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 Birmingham’s King’s Norton area, 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 evenings, 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 and 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 a £5 per year membership and just £3 per week to train. The classes 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 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 to beginners through to the sport’s champions. 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 tackling 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, and 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 need basic obedience, so the best bet is to enroll 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 on to the improver’s 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 evenings,
9. Dog Agility Schools in Newcastle upon Tyne
Lucy has over 30 years of experience as a dog behaviourist and has competed at the 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 in this arena or outside area can be booked by 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 and provides an excellent dog workout, 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 straightforward to get started. You can set up a simple course with hurdles, a pause table and various tunnels for dogs at home or enrol your dog on a puppy foundation course.
Of course, you need to ensure your pup is fit and healthy, so it’s always a good idea to chat with your vet before taking on any energetic activity. Starting at home with small agility toys is an easy way to see whether your dog enjoys it.
Many clubs offer other classes your dog may enjoy, such as Flyball, Hoopers or Canicross. Whatever breed you own, most dogs benefit from agility training exercises, and it’s one of the best ways to spend quality time with your best friend.