The dog agility craze is sweeping across the country. Perhaps it has happened to you. As you are flipping through the TV channels something catches your eye. Animal Planet is showing an agility trial. You watch as dogs run, jump, and weave through poles being directed on a course by human navigators running at their side. You poke the fur ball sleeping by your side and say, “Hey, do you think we could do that?” The answer is probably “yes”. Almost any dog in relatively good health can perform agility at some level. Bearded Collies are very adept at agility and each year the number of Bearded Collie agility champions multiplies.

Agility is a sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. In competition, dogs must run off leash with no food or toys as incentives. The handler can’t touch the dog or the obstacles.The handler must direct the dog using voice commands, movement, and various body signals.

Dog agility started about thirty years ago as something to entertain the spectators between main events at the Crufts Dog Show in England. John Varley, a member of the show committee, who had previous experience with horse jumping competition, thought something similar for dogs might appeal to the crowd. He staged the first dog agility demonstration at Crufts in February 1978. The spectators loved seeing the dogs run, jump, climb and go through tunnels. The activity was so popular that within a short time agility competitions began to spring up around England. After observing agility in England, Kenneth Tatsch, an American returned to Texas and founded the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) in 1986. Today there are five organizations that sanction agility trials that are open to Bearded Collies in the United States– USDAA, American Kennel Club (AKC), North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), Canine Performance Events (CPE), and United Kennel Club (UKC). Each organization puts its own spin on agility so the rules, regulations and games vary from organization to organization offering competitors a range of agility experiences.