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Intro to Competing

An Introduction to Agility Competitions


Agility competitions may seem daunting to the uninitiated, yet they can provide enjoyable outdoor fun for you and your dog. The atmosphere at competitions is generally very laid-back and friendly, and competitors are very supportive of each other. In fact, one of the best ways to learn is to ask people questions when you’re at the competition!

Despite the plethora of events, rules, competitive classes, etc., all competitions are essentially the same: dog and handler attempt to run through a predetermined obstacle course as fast as they can without mistakes. Competitors start in the easiest classes and graduate to more difficult classes.

Ask your instructor about what classes you are able to enter.

If you are relatively new to competing be sure to read our guide to Your First Show.

For more definitive rules please refer to the official NZ Agility regulations web site.

Types of Events
  • Ribbon trials – don’t need to be a member of Dogs NZ
    • $2.50 – $3.50 /dog/course run
  • Championship show – dog and handler must be a member of Dogs NZ
    • $5.50 /dog/course run
  • LINK competition – club level, need to be a member of NALA to have results recorded but not of Dogs NZ
Dog Height

There are currently 5 height classes

240 – Dogs not exceeding 325mm

320 – Dogs exceeding 325mm but not exceeding 380mm

380 – Dogs exceeding 380mm but not exceeding 430mm

500 – Dogs exceeding 430mm but not exceeding 520mm

600 – All other dogs compete as 600 Dogs

To compete dogs must

  • Be 18 months or older
  • Have an official measurement (ask your instructor about getting your dog measured)
  • Have a permanent number

official measurement

permanent number

Guide to getting an Agility number – new handler.pdf

Guide to Entering Events 2020.pdf

Dogs can get an interim measurement at 17 months and at 2 years of age can get a permanent measurement. Permanent measurement can be made up to 2 weeks before the dog’s second birthday.

For more details see the current regulations

Standard Agility/Jumpers Classes (for ribbon and championship events)

Classes below are in order from easiest to hardest.

Agility classes

  • Elementary C
  • Elementary B
  • Elementary A
  • Starters
  • Novice
  • Intermediate
  • Senior

Jumpers classes

  • Jumpers C
  • Jumpers B
  • Jumpers A

For more details see the current regulations

Click here for pictures of the obstacles

Elementary A,B,C


  • A clear round means dog ran it with no faults such as knocking down or refusing a hurdle.
  • Wins in ribbon trials do not count toward championship events.
Special Classes (not offered at all events)
  • AD – Open to all dogs
  • ADX – Must have gained four clear rounds in AD

For more details see the current regulations

  • Courses are timed using digital clocks. The first and last obstacles are equipped with light-beam triggers: the clock starts when the dog breaks the beam on the first hurdle and stops when it crosses the last obstacle.
  • A judge (who designs each course) stands in the middle of the course to make sure each obstacle is navigated correctly and in the right order.
  • A second person (scribe) records the official time and the number of faults signaled by the judge.
Helping at Shows
  • Call Steward - stands near the start line with a list of competitors in running order, and ensures that competitors are present and ready when their turn arrives.
  • Jump Steward - stands at the outside of the ring and replaces bars knocked off the hurdles.
  • Lead Runner - carries the dog's lead from start to finish line so that handlers can reattach the lead at the end of the run.
  • Show Manager - responsible for overall running of the day's events, ensuring helpers are assigned to the various tasks, and the show runs smoothly.
  • Show Secretary - takes entries, enters results into database, prints results and clear round certificates.

Each competitor is responsible for announcing themselves to the call steward, making sure that the scribe knows their number before starting the run, and confirming that both the scribe and judge have signalled that they may begin the run.