Bred to be a working dog, the Miniature Australian Shepherd is an athletic, agile dog that loves to be active. To that end, the Miniature Australian Shepherd excels in the sport of Dog Agility. Possibly the most recognizable sport for dogs, Dog Agility competitions are often shown on cable television.
Dog Agility competitions involve a trainer verbally and/or signaling a dog through an obstacle course. Not only do the dogs have to be the quickest to cross the finish line, but they also have to complete each obstacle successfully or suffer penalties, much like a horse in a show jumping competition. Most of the obstacles a dog must complete, and the speed needed to become a winner, are similar to the behaviors and tactics the Miniature Australian Shepherd uses when herding.
Dogs will find the same obstacles in most Agility competitions, although shapes and sizes vary by the different governing organizations. The obstacles are categorized into four categories: Jumps, Contact Obstacles, Tunnels, and Miscellaneous.
For the most part, the Jumps are exactly what you would see at a horse show jumping competition. The Jump obstacle features a bar set at varying heights depending on the size of the dog. There’s also a Double or Triple Jump, which sets bars at a depth as well as a height. The Panel Jump uses a panel instead of a bar. The Broad Jump features a slightly raised platform which the dog must clear. And the Tire Jump has a dog jumping through a suspended tire.
Contact Obstacles are ones where the dog must touch a part of the obstacle in order for it to be completed successfully. The A Frame features two plans formed in an “A” shape, which the dog must run over and touch the colored tips at both ends. The Dog Walk is the same, except with a flat top. The teeter-totter is a plank on a central pivot point, and the dog must touch both colored tips.
Tunnels are self-explanatory: Dogs have to run through a tunnel. There are two types of tunnels the dogs use. The regular Tunnel has the dog run through a solid, vinyl chute. The Collapsed Tunnel is a small cylinder with cloth at the end. The dog must run through the end of the cloth.
There are a couple of miscellaneous obstacles. Two similar obstacles are the Table and the Pause Box. Just created differently, each is meant for the dog to jump on and pause for a set amount of time. This is a hard thing to do for a dog in the thrill of action. The other obstacle is the Weave Poles. The dogs must slalom through a set of vertical poles.
Because all dogs of any lineage is invited to participate in Dog Agility competitions, this is a great competition for the Miniature Australian Shepherd to participate in.