The Golden Retriever Club Inc.
New Zealand


Agility is the fastest growing dog sport in New Zealand. It was made popular by the TV series “Tux Wonder Dogs”, and clubs around the country continue to grow as more and more people get out there and give it a go with their family pet.

To start agility your dog must be at least 18 months old. This is to allow time for full bone development and growth so the jumping and impact will cause minimum damage. It is also important to keep your dog fit and healthy and not over weight. When your dog is doing agility they are competing like an athlete, and as such should be in that kind of condition. On the whole agility dogs don’t suffer from more health problems more than other kinds of dogs, in fact some agility dogs still competing are ten years old! As owners though it is important to keep an eye on what your dog can and can’t do as they get older and respond to that.

When you start agility you can join any of the many clubs around the country, and enter their beginners class which is normally a 10 week (approx.) course that introduces you and your dog to the basic obstacles and how to work together to do them. Agility is all about working as a team, and Goldies love to work with you! Generally the first term is finished with an assessment, and if you and your dog pass you can move up to the next level. Various clubs offer different levels and assessments, but someone at your club will explain this to you.

After completing one or two classes of agility training your instructor will advise you when you are ready to start competing. They will be able to tell you about competitions in your area and how to enter. A good idea is to go along to one of your clubs competitions and be a “helper”, it is a really good way of learning without the pressure of running your dog for the first time and it is great for the club.

Competitions have four standard classes – Starters, Novice, Intermediate and Senior. All dogs are eligible to enter two classes. When you first start you will be eligible for Starters and Novice. If you get two wins, you can move to Novice and Intermediate and if you win three times at Novice or Intermediate, you can move into Intermediate/Senior. To win is to get round with no mistakes, and then have the fastest time. So all dogs are ranked first on their faults and then by their times.

Starter classes have tunnels, collapsible tunnel, weaves, jumps, tyre, and long jump. The courses are designed for beginner dogs and handlers, and most judges don’t penalise dogs for mistakes in the weave (provided you go back and do it right). Novice courses have contact equipment (A frame, dog walk and cross over – the dog must touch the coloured area on the way up and down) and dogs get faulted for a mistake in the weaves. Intermediate is the same as Novice with the see saw added sometimes and harder, and Senior the same again but harder.

There are other “novelty” classes offered at some shows. These can vary from club to club. Elementary is commonly offered and is like starters with no weaves, and is only for new dogs who haven’t got places before. Jumpers are another one that is offered and just has jumps and tunnels in it. There are various games too, and someone from your club will explain these to you. They are a lot of fun, and great to watch.

Agility is divided up into two types of competitions – Championship Shows and Ribbon Trials. To enter a Championship show you and your dog must be a member of NZKC, for Ribbon Trials anyone who is a member of an agility club can enter provided their dog is over 18 months old. It is a good idea to start with Ribbon Trials, as they are generally easier courses and a more relaxed atmosphere. Talk to someone at your club about ribbon trials in your area and watch the club notice board/newsletter, as they will have information for you.

Agility can be great fun. There are many people of various ages and sizes competing, and there are many different types of dogs. The Goldies may not be the fastest breed around, but they are a wonderful breed for agility as the love to be with you and please you. They are generally wonderful steady dogs and often get ribbons because of this. Agility is about teamwork with your dog, but mostly it is about having fun together. If you are interested in giving it a go, contact the NZKC and they will let you know the club nearest you.


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