Agility training is a great way for your dog to get good exercise for both his body and his mind and is also a great way for you and your dog to spend time together. Shelties are a naturally active and intelligent breed, so they are particularly well suited to agility activities.
Agility courses are obstacle courses for dogs. Each obstacle course will have several different sorts of obstacles, including hoops, see-saws, dog walks, 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 by the length of the course and 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. Shelties do especially well with their owners as handlers because the bond is so strong that the sheltie will love performing to please their owner.
As your dog becomes more adept at agility courses, he can move up in levels, which means he moves on to courses that are longer and more challenging. Most clubs have several different agility skill levels.
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. You can begin at a novice level with your collie and work up as his skills develop.
Breed clubs also host sheltie only agility competitions for collies. The American Shetland Sheepdog Association is the breed's main club and is a member of the American Kennel Club. They host a yearly ASSA conference which includes many competitions, including agility. In addition, local sheltie clubs will host agility classes and events in their local areas several times throughout the year.
Shelties are lively, athletic and intelligent, so they learn agility courses quickly and do very well with them. The mental challenge of completing a different course at every event keeps them mentally challenged and the running and jumping keeps them in great physical condition. Since shelties are a working breed of dog, they love having a chore or challenge to perform. Finally, their eagerness to please their owners ensures that they work very hard to complete the course with accuracy, so long as they receive ample praise from you at the end. You and your sheltie can have endless fun competing in agility events.