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Agility > Safety Guidelines for trialling and Training in Agility

Agility – Safety Guidelines for Trialling and Training in Agility

Safety and Risks in Agility

Agility is a popular sport and you should read the safety guidelines for safe participation in this exciting activity with your dog.

The information on this page has been taken directly from the Agility Safety Guideline prepared by the Agility Advisory Committee on behalf of the South Australian Canine Association Inc.

Work your dog according to its experience and ability.

If a course looks too tight, too difficult, too high, etc, do not work that course.  It is your choice to continue training or competing.  You and your dog’s safety should always be the most important consideration.

If your dog is diagnosed with problems such as spinal spondylitis, arthritis, heart problems, etc do not exacerbate the condition by continuing training.  Your dog’s fitness is important so talk with your vet about your level of participation in agility so you can make an informed decision.

Safety is everyone’s concern.  Everyone who participates in agility should be vigilant for possible safety hazards and concerns.  A diligent approach to safety, and observing these safety guidelines, can reduce the injury and keep agility a fun and healthy sport.

Club and Instructor Responsibilities

ü  To keep training grounds in good order; e.g. grass mown to avoid unkempt grass becoming slippery or causing a tripping hazard.

ü  To make sure all members training in agility receive a copy and training in these guidelines.

ü  To make sure equipment meets current standards and is maintained at this level.

ü  Adopt a hot weather policy for trialling and training.

ü  Instructors are to actively promote safety guidelines as part of their instruction.

ü  To make sure that instructions given to handlers is up to date, and allow handlers and dogs to safely progress to each level in agility.

ü  To act on any safety concerns brought to their attention.

Handler Responsibilities

ü  You are responsible for whether you and your dog can safely complete a sequence or course at training or a trial.

ü  To be aware of the Agility Safety Guidelines and report any safety concern to the judge, trial manager or instructor so action can be taken to rectify or alleviate the problem.


Judge Responsibilities

ü  To make sure the course is set to the ANKC Agility Judges Guidelines.

ü  Be prepared to adjust the course if the conditions (weather, grounds) warrant it.


Consider the clothing you wear to train and trial in.  It should not be restrictive, for freedom of movement when running the course

Normal sun procedures apply at all times for handlers and dogs; e.g. clothing, sunscreen and adequate shade when not competing or training.

Suitable footwear is essential.  Non slip, soled running shoes or boots should be worn for maximum grip, appropriate to the surface and conditions.

Fluid and Alcohol Consumption

Agility requires split-second decisions that require the handler to navigate obstacles quickly when guiding their dog around the course.

No alcohol should be consumed while training or trialling.  As a guide, treat running the course as you would driving a car.

Alcohol also contributes to dehydration and should not be consumed in place of water in hot weather.  Make sure you drink adequate amounts of water, or appropriate liquids, at all times.

Fitness and Health

A reasonable level of fitness is required to compete or train in agility.  If you are not sure if your health allows you to train or compete in agility you should consult your doctor.

Handlers with reduced levels of fitness can learn techniques to reduce physical stress and get your dog through the course safely.

Warming Up

To minimise injury, handlers should warm up before training or trialling.  A suitable warm-up should consist of jogging or a brisk walk to warm up you and your dog’s muscles.  Follow this with some stretches.


Agility puts a high physical and mental demand on handlers, and pregnant women should advise their doctor of their participation in agility.  This way, handlers can make an informed decision about what level or participation is suitable throughout the pregnancy.


Your Dogs Suitability

Agility requires your dog to be agile, and to run and jump in a high-energy environment.

It is the handlers responsibility to make sure their dog is a suitable weight, fitness and age to train and compete without undue stress.

If you are not sure of the suitability of your dog’s fitness consult your vet.

When thinking of starting in agility, consider your dog’s health and well being, and consider the demands put on your dog in training and trialling.

Start with the beginners class at Para District Obedience Dog Club on Friday nights, and see how you go.

Shade and Water

Dogs are often on the grounds for many hours during trialling and training so it is important to be prepared.

You should provide adequate shade, shelter and water to look after their wellbeing.


Your dog’s nails should be kept trimmed, and the feathering between the toes and pads should be clipped so your dog has maximum grip on agility equipment and the ground.


You can decide whether to run with or without a collar.

If you choose to use a collar, make sure it is suitable and fitted correctly.  A good example is a fixed collar with room for two fingers between the collar and the dog.

A slip collar or other tightening type collars are not permitted in competition and should not be used during training.  These collars can catch on equipment when negotiating equipment and cause injury.

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