So Now You Want to Compete?
The complete guide to getting started (thanks to The Kennel Club for this piece).
The training’s going well. Your dog can now complete a course so you think you’d like to try your hand at competing. If so, here’s some handy hints from Kate & Cliff Truluck to get you started, but be warned. This agility thing can be addictive. If this time next year you have a fully caged van, a caravan and several dogs, don’t say you weren’t warned!
• Your dog must be registered with the Kennel Club (KC). If your dog is a pedigree, then it is likely to have been registered by the breeder. You need to know your dog's registered name and its KC number. These can be found on the paperwork you received from the breeder.
• If your dog is a rescue, not a pedigree or not KC-registered, then you need to register them on the Kennel Club Activity Register. You need to choose a KC name for your dog - one that you are happy to be read out loud in public if you win anything at a show so choose wisely! You have to submit several choices on the form in case your first name is already taken by another dog. For more information visit the KC website: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/3440
• Before you can compete with your dog at a KC show, you will need to have it officially measured. Dogs fall into one of three categories – Small, Medium or Large. You probably know what size your dog is from training, but it still needs to be measured unless they are obviously large even if they are very tiny.
For your dog to be measured you will need to have a KC Agility Record Book. This book records all your dog's details and the results of the measuring. It also provides you with a place to record all your results, clear rounds, places and wins. Record Books can often be bought from Secretaries at shows or from KC Measurers themselves, or you can buy them from the KC website at the address below:
• Your dog will need to be identified in its Record Book with a microchip number and a photograph, glued onto the details page of the book if you wish.
• Measuring sessions take place at some shows and will often be advertised on the show schedule. Some clubs will also hold measuring sessions at their venues. These are often advertised at www.agilitynet.co.uk. The measuring session is held by two KC official measurers.
Dogs aren’t actually measured using a tape measure. Instead there are two metal hoops – one small and one medium. The measurer places the hoop over the dog's withers. If the dog fits under the Small one, then they classed as 'Small.' If they fit under the Medium one, they are considered 'Medium.' if they don’t fit under either of them, then they are a 'Large' dog. Your dog will need to stand still for a couple of minutes with you holding them so it would be a useful thing to practice at home.
• Small and medium dogs cannot be measured until they are 15 months old and must be measured twice. The second measurement needs to be between 12 – 24 months after the first one and must be carried out by different measurers. There is much more information about measuring in the front of the Record Book.
So, your dog’s registered and measured, now what?
Now you need to enter a show!
• Because most shows usually need to be entered at least six weeks before they happen, they have a closing date. If it is a weekend show - and you wish to camp at the show, then you need to enter as soon as the schedule comes out as the camping often fills up very quickly. Schedules can be found on the Show Diary at www.agilitynet.co.uk. Alternatively you can register with IShowServices at www.ishowservices.com or Agility shows on line and enter many shows.
• All new handlers and their dogs start at Grade 1. You can enter as many classes as the schedule allows that are for your dog's height and grade.
• Classes are split into two types - 'Agility' and 'Jumping' classes. Agility classes contain the contact equipment – A-frame, dog walk and seesaw – along with everything else. Jumping classes do not contain any contacts, but can have everything else – weaves, tunnels, tyre.
There can also be 'special' classes to enter such as helter-skelter, steeplechase, power and speed which are fine but do not lead to progression. The specific details of these classes can be found in the schedule. Normally you can enter three or four classes per dog each day of a show.
• A couple of weeks before the show, you will be sent your running orders. This is the paperwork that tells you the order of classes, in which ring they are and what your running order is (i.e. how early or late you run in the class).
If you are camping at the show your running orders will usually contain a camping pass or confirmation that your camping spot is booked. You will need to bring this paperwork with you to the show so you know which ring to go to when.
• The Agility Club is a club for everyone competing in agility. Membership gives you a monthly magazine with show reports, articles and advice. There is also an annual show and a competition for Grade 1 & 2 dogs with the chance to compete in a final at the annual show. The Agility Club has a points competition every year for all dogs of all grades and sizes getting points for any top ten places gained at KC shows. There is a club league and you submit your points not only for yourself but also for your club, Their website is www.agilityclub.co.uk
If you’ve got any questions about competing please ask one of the already competing members at the club. Generally they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. See you round the shows!