Dog agility sport is growing in popularity

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jul 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 14:40:05-04

Agility is one of the few sports that requires you to spend quality time with your four-legged friend. It's also something that is growing in popularity among Millennials and retirees, alike.

"Dogs are very popular companions," says Mary Hunter, a longtime dog trainer and competitor.

They have been for decades now. So, it's no wonder people from all walks of life are giving the sport a try.

Agility involves running with your dog through a set of obstacles.

While it is recommended to receive some sort of professional guidance, in order to avoid injuries, it's also something you can just do for fun in your own backyard as vice president of the Boise Agility Runners and Climbers, or BARC, group explains.

"It's really good for bonding and having a great working relationship with your dog, especially dogs like Border Collies, Shelties, Aussies and Labradors that have a lot of energy but like to work with their owners," says Ariel Agenbroad, who also competes with her Shetland Sheepdog named 'Oliver.' "It can be a wonderful outlet for that."

Cassandra Zuber has been working with her Border Collie named 'Lily' for the last year and a half.

The duo has been entering into agility trials for the majority of that time with no plans of quitting anytime soon.

Zuber says it's all about showing up to the competition with a game plan.

"We do a lot of training beforehand so we feel pretty comfortable," she says. "In the moment, it's more trying to make sure your dog is ready to run and making sure they're prepared for what's going to happen."

With all the jumps, teeter totters and tunnels to master, it may seem like a lot of the pressure to perform is on the dog but in all reality it's the handler who has the course map in hand.

"Every course is a new course. The owner is the one who studies the map. The owner guides the dog," Hunter says. "The dog has no idea where to go except for the handler guiding them through the course."

All ages, breeds and mixes are welcome in the tail wagging world of agility but not all dogs naturally take to the sport.

That's okay because you can always get involved with other dog-related sports like canine nose work, trick training (done to music), herding, obedience and tracking.

BARC's next dog agility trial is set for August 27-28 in Caldwell. It will be held at the Canyon County Fairgrounds, and it's free to get in.

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