If you'd like to pursue some form of dog competition with your Irish terrier, obedience competitions and agility competitions are great choices. Irish terriers are athletic and intelligent, giving them the ability to excel in either filed of competition.
Before putting your Irish terrier in obedience or agility trials, begin with basic obedience training and socialization first. This will ensure that your dog will be comfortable and well behaved during any competition.
During obedience competitions, your Irish terrier will compete in one of three categories: novice, open or utility. According to the AKC regulations, there will be the following expectations at each level:
NOVICE - For the dog just getting started in obedience.
Heel on Leash and Figure Eight - show whether the dog has learned to watch its handler and adjust its pace to stay with the handler.
Heel Free - done off leash.
Stand for Examination - is of great benefit when the dog needs hands-on care by a veterinarian.
Recall - provides the handler with the ability to call the dog and get an immediate response at all times.
Long Sit (1 minute) - allows the handler to have control of the dog when visitors come to the home.
Long Down (3 minutes) - dog must remain in a down position.
OPEN - The second level includes more complicated exercises, some of which may be given by hand signals. Exercises include:
Heel Free and Figure Eight - Same as Novice, but off leash.
Drop on Recall - can be a lifesaving command for a dog, since it gives the handler control in potentially dangerous situations.
Retrieve on Flat
Retrieve Over High Jump
Long Sit (3 minutes) - similar to the long sit in Novice, but the position must be held for a longer period of time with the handler out of the dog's sight.
Long Down (5 minutes) - dog must remain in a down position.
UTILITY - The third and highest level of obedience competition. Exercises include:
Signal Exercise - shows the dog's ability to understand and correctly respond to the handler's signal to stand, stay, down, sit and come. No voice commands are given; only hand signals are allowed.
Scent Discrimination - shows the dog's ability to find the handler's scent among a pile of articles.
Directed Retrieve - proves the dog's ability to follow a directional signal to retrieve a glove and promptly return it to the handler.
Moving Stand and Examination - the dog must heel, stand and stay as the handler moves away. The dog must stay and accept an examination by the judge and return to the handler on command.
Directed Jumping - the dog must go away from the handler, turn and sit. Then, the dog must clear whichever jump its handler indicates and promptly return to the handler.
Agility courses are another popular competition for Irish terriers. These are, simply put, an obstacle course for dogs. Each obstacle course will have several different sorts of obstacles, including hoops, "teeter-totter" type devices, dog walks (like a "catwalk"), A-frame obstacles and tunnels, along with other jumps and obstacles. The course must be run by the dog in the correct order and within a specified period of time. The expected time is determined in part by the skill level of the competition. The dog's handler directs the dog from the sidelines with hand and voice commands, ensuring that the dog knows which obstacle to tackle next. Dogs earn points for completing the course in the correct order, executing the obstacles smoothly and completing the course within the specified period of time.
The American Kennel Club hosts agility events that are open to all dog breeds. If your dog is registered with the AKC, he is eligible to compete by simply registering as an agility competitor. The AKC hosts events all over the country and at different skill levels throughout the year. * From AKC regulation book.