Your first agility show


«  Talk to your instructor before entering a show.  They will be able to help you decide if you and your dog are ready to enter.

«  If you have any questions regarding filling out your entry, ask your instructor.

«  Write legibly or type your entry.  Before mailing or delivering your entry, double check to make sure it is completely filled it out and signed.  Also remember to enclose a check made out to the club in the full amount due.

«  Send your entry so that the trial secretary will receive it on the opening date.  Trial secretaries will reject entries they receive before the opening date listed in the premium list.

«  If you list an e-mail address on your entry, make sure your address is very clearly written.

«  If you do not have a permanent jump height card for your dog; measure your dog prior to filling out and sending your entry.  And make sure you enter correct jump height.

«  If you are able to volunteer to work the day of the trial, check the box on your entry.  Many clubs have a very difficult time finding enough people to work during trials.  The work is simple and can be a hands-on learning experience for those who choose to get involved. It is particularly advantageous for the Novice handler to participate in the ring crew for the Excellent, Elite, or Master’s classes.  Having the opportunity to watch these dog and handler teams up close and personal can be an enlightening and encouraging experience.


«  Familiarize yourself with the organization’s rules, obtain a copy of the rules, and bring them with you to the trial.  Rules for AKC trials can be found on the AKC website at

«  When your dog completes a title, you are eligible to ‘move-up’ to the next level. Be sure to let the trial secretary know of any “move-ups” as soon as possible.

«  Inform the trial secretary in a timely manner if you need to pull your dog for any reason. Doing so will save the secretary time and effort.  In addition, notifying her or him prior to closing date will allow another dog to enter, and you will be refunded all or a large majority of your entry fee.  If the closing date has passed, notification of you intent not to show will allow the secretary to remove your dog from the “running order,” and the “gate steward sheets.” This will save everyone involved time and trouble the day of the trial.  Additionally, some clubs will allow partial refunds for dogs that are pulled after the closing date due to injuries or for bitches that surprisingly come into season.


«  If your dog needs to be measured, arrive early and be present during the designated check-in and measurement time.  It is very difficult to find someone who is qualified to measure later in the day when they may be running their own dogs or judging classes.

«  Your entry numbers for the weekend and course maps (if provided) will be available close to the score table.  Pick these up when you arrive at the trial.

«  The club will provide a “practice jump” for use of exhibitors.  If you choose to use the practice jump, be courteous to other handlers. Make sure any handler or handlers waiting to use the jump that have a run scheduled before yours have the opportunity to jump their dog before you use the jump.  In addition, although you may jump your dog with the leash off, leave your leash on until you are ready to practice and reattach the leash to your dog’s collar as soon as your are finished.  IMPORTANT: work on stays as well as other obedience skills while you warm-up.


«  If the show committee has rules pertaining to dogs “off-leash,” be sure you are familiar with the rules and follow them!  Many times a club must enforce these rules to use the site or facility in the future.  In addition, some of the agility organizations have specific rules pertaining to dogs “off-leash” on the show grounds.

« At most AKC shows, there is a no training on show grounds except to warm-up your dog.

«  PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG. No one enjoys driving home with a running shoe that smells like poop.  ‘Nuff said.

«  If you bring children to the trial, make sure you explain and enforce the rules:

  • Do not walk in and around the ring and crating areas.
  • Always ask permission before petting a dog other than yours.
  • Refrain from playing or interacting with your dog near the rings.
  • Do not tease any dog, including your own.

«  “Exercise” your dog often.  It’s embarrassing if your dog has an “accident!”


«  Do not let your dog bark incessantly.  If your dog is a barker, take steps to correct or prevent barking.  For example:

  • Cover the dog’s crate with a sheet.
  • Stay nearby to correct him or her for the vocalization.
  • Crate with friends and ask them to do the same if you aren’t nearby.
  • If weather permits and it is cool enough, keep your dog in a crate in your car.


«  Remember to “check in” before you walk your course(s).  The busy gate steward will appreciate not having to find out if you are there and whether or not you are planning on running your dog.

«  Wear your entry numbers where they can be seen by the gate steward and scribe.

« Nothing is permitted on your dog’s collar (i.e., tags, name on the collar, etc.).

«  Be present to listen to the judge’s “briefing.”  This lecture will take place before anyone runs the course and will contain information pertinent to all exhibitors.

«  Take a look at the running orders and calculate the approximate times you will show.  Sometimes shows run faster or slower.  It is always the responsibility of the handler to be ready when it is his or her turn to run.  If after calculating your estimated running times, you feel you may have a conflict, please notify the ring steward as soon as possible.  To estimate when you may be in the ring, use this simple equation:

  • For Standard classes, multiply the number of dogs entered by one and one half minutes per dog.  If you are showing after a jump height change, add ten minutes to the total.  If the course will be changed before you show, add 20 minutes to allow for the course change.  If a class has multiple walk-throughs, add 5-8 minutes for each walk-through.  Please remember that this is only an estimate.  Sometimes shows run faster or slower.  It is always the responsibility of the handler to be ready when it is his or her turn.
  • For Jumpers classes, multiply the number of dogs entered by one minute per dog.  If you are showing after a jump height change, add ten minutes to the total.   If the course will be changed before you show, add 20 minutes to allow for the course change. Please remember that this is only an estimate – it is the responsibility of the handler to be on course when it is their turn.

«  Leave your dog’s toys or treats by your crate or give them to a friend to hold.  Do not leave them on a chair or table near the ring.

«  Be present and prepared for your turn when there are approximately five dogs ahead of you.  Stand nearby, but do no stand in front of the ring gate unless you are scheduled to be the next dog in the ring.

«  While you wait ringside, DO NOT allow your dog to “visit” other dogs.  Handlers that are waiting to go in the ring often use this time to do focusing exercises and letting your dog run over will break their concentration.  Furthermore, not all dogs enjoy having strange dogs get in their personal space and you risk an altercation when you let your dog get too close.  As a general rule, all dogs deserve about a 4 foot buffer zone around them if possible.

«  When it is your turn, listen to make sure the steward announces your number.  If he or she does not, tell the scribe your dog’s name.  This will help the scribe be sure he or she is using the right sheet to record information from your run.

«  Always enter the ring with your dog on leash and line up for the first obstacle at the time the judge specified during his or her briefing.  When the dog before you has completed its run and is under control, remove your dog’s leash.

« Do not throw your leash back behind unless you have made sure there is no one standing there.  Many times the club has children running leashes and we wouldn’t want to hit a child or person with the leash clip.

«  Familiarize yourself with the person who is acting as the “time keeper.”  When you enter the ring, look to the “time keeper” for permission to start.  Do not leave your dog until your receive GO from the timekeeper.

«  Always attach your dog’s leash to the collar before you leave the ring!!

«  Be kind to your dog, have fun and exhibit good sportsmanship!!


«  Do not bother the busy workers tending the score table with questions if at all possible.  However, if you do have a question pertaining to your score, be polite and ask your question.  For example, if you believe your score does not reflect what you or other observers think your dog earned, you can ask to view your scribe sheet.  If after you view your scribe sheet, you still question the score, you can ask to speak to the judge while your run may still be fresh in his mind.

«  Review your results and make note of the information provided about your run (time, faults, etc.)

«  Qualifying ribbons and placement ribbons will be available on the score table.  It is your responsibility to find the ribbon(s) that have YOUR NAME ONE THEM.  If you place first in the class, most clubs give a toy as a prize.  It is your responsibility to select your toy if you achieved 1st place.

«  Some trials give a new title ribbon for completing your title at that trial.  These will be on the ribbons table but will not have your name on them.  Get one new title ribbon for each title you completed on that day.

The most important thing of all is to HAVE FUN!