The Guild of Shepherds & Collies

The Rising Popularity of Agility and Flyball at Dog Shows in the UK

It is one of the biggest observations I have had recently at various dog shows in the UK including Crufts and Discover Dogs; there just aren't as many people showing and it's always a challenge to tackle the root of this issue. Is it economic? Do people find it difficult to spend a whole day at a show? It's certainly going to be a big challenge, especially among many small to medium club shows across the UK in the next few years. Fortunately the other side of this trend is surprisingly positive for all involved; the fact is that the demographic at these shows is changing.

The rise of agility and flyball shows is becoming a reality and heralds a rather different future for these shows. The atmosphere is always exhilarating and non-dog owners come round to experience the thrilling event. Many fans are even setting up shows, some of which are oversubscribed due to popularity. That alone speaks volumes.

Indeed, you can see the results when you look at the happy, healthy dogs and their owners. Dogs jumping, barking with excitement, people cheering among the crowds, it's an atmosphere that is very much different to the showing world. I have often wondered...why is this?

As a trainer and handler myself, I cannot help but admire the hard work and patience the trainers go through. What's even more delightful is that as you are watching dogs jumping through hoops, hurdles, and seesaws with so much focus and determination - you are watching first hand the powerful, unconditional connection we have between dogs and humans and it truly is a wonderful thing to witness. As I see this, my heart warms. I keep thinking to myself, "This is exactly why I love dogs."

Our Connection with Dogs...

We have had a connection with dogs that, from up to 15,000 years ago, and although their physical features and duties have changed, their loyalty has not. We have merely embraced this and funneled it into other activities such as herding, fly-ball and agility. The only limit of training is our imagination.

I have written about this before: encouraging kids and adults alike to take part in these activities is such a enriching activity to participate in. Indeed, there are more activities you can take part with your dog other than a walk down the local park. Many have done much, much more – and none have looked back! Make sure you get the right training, equipment, advice and most importantly – patience. Unfortunately these things never change overnight, it will take months or even years of training but there is one thing I can guarantee: the more work you put in, the more you will get out of it.

The dog show environment is always changing and adapting due to public demand. If activities such as fly-ball and agility rise, you will see them participating at many championship shows. They are entertaining to watch, and more importantly, the dogs enjoy every minute of it.

Article By:
Mark Walden
www.markwalden.org - @MarkRWalden

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