What Is The Future of Dog Agility

Answer this 5 Question Poll and Let's Find Out

Lately, I’ve been hearing all kinds of things.

Yes, agility is blossoming!  No, agility is doomed!!!

So what is the answer?

Take this quick 5-question yes/no poll and find out what your fellow agility folks think. Do your answers match theirs?


As a 20+ year dog agility coach, I am passionate about producing quality resources for dog agility teams by promoting self-development and delivering clear and specific training solutions that enable teams' to perform with clarity and confidence!

My unique experience as a hands-on trainer and 18+ year dog agility judge led me to create Sequencing For Success and the highly successful 2on-2off Contact Training DVD.

Our household has included Dalmatians, Labradors, Belgian Tervuren, Border Collies and engaging cats.

Contact Lisa via email AgilityOne at Gmail.com (replace at with @ sign)

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34 thoughts on “What Is The Future of Dog Agility

  1. I have a an almost 3 std poodle that is very fast and I am not at 76. We are trying to learn how to work with each other and it isn’t easy. Lots of new handling that I am bad at and he is easily distracted by almost anything. Has his Gch at the beginning of his name and nothing after his name.

  2. I think a lot of trials are not filling up is because there are so many to choose from. People in Colorado are happy to travel great distances to trial under a preferred judge or to run on a surface they like. I personally know several newcomers to the sport who just got their pup and are planning to train.

  3. I haven’t done competitive agility in five years. A multitude of reasons I think. Too far from where I live..no day tripping, costs of overnights….motels, food, gas, critiques on me, my handling, my dogs, my training that were not sought, rude people who play rude with their big dogs near the gate when the small dogs are running…..ruining my run and making my dogs not like agility, gate stewards who do nothing to keep the gate area under control, people not paying attention to their high drive dogs, who go on the attack after my littles ’cause the look like bunnies. Putting newbies jumpers first thing in the am and then standard at the end of the day so your dog thinks he’s done and then having to get him and yourself excited and ready to run at the end of the day when you and he are tired and unfocused because you are new to the sport, if your second dog isn’t a border collie… being judged not serious about the sport and just slowing things down for the real competitors……

    • I agree with you Carol, my first year as a newbie was horrible, got in a argument with someone you intentionally interfered with My run, I asked nicely if they would not play with there dog at the ingate, big mistake!! Got ganged up on a someone hit me. I will never go to a trial again, to many clicks and to many bullies and nobody does anything about it!!

  4. I currently have a wait list of over 60 people for dog agility beginner training; however I see much less in people that are competing in events that I personally hold and for that I compete in it is mostly the same handlers from many years with different dogs. Very small amount of actual Novice handlers.

  5. I see more agility trials on East coast – so overall it appears a trial may not be filling but handlers have more dates to pick from. Plus the flu scared some entries away for a few trials. Also as AKC National is so far away this year, more folks are trialing USDAA to Q their instead of AKC trials IMO.

  6. The reason attendance at trials is down, at least here in California, is because there are so many trials that the market has been saturated. Clubs now have to vie for customers money by offering lots of options for classes, taking a good look at their pricing structure, engaging judges who make the event enjoyable (not just those who put up easy courses – not everyone likes that) by designing challenging yet fair courses and have a pleasant personality and who work well with their ring staff.

  7. My general sense is that even amongst the Novice class, the people entered are experienced handlers with young dogs coming up. While people still trial every weekend, and I see the same people year after year – for many years, we are not getting a ton of new people into the sport. So I don’t think agility is “dying” – people aren’t leaving in droves – it’s no longer a growing sport.

  8. I don’t see a decrease at all, but I do see a number of things that might make entries at any given trial lower.
    1) Multiple venues … more and more choices on where to compete. I see more people competing overall, but not necessarily all in one venue. And I see lots of people (myself included, because I’ve got a dog with “trial only” issues) choosing venues like UKI where you can train in the ring, or USDAA Miscellaneous class, vs. AKC where training in the ring is taboo.
    2) Where’s the big event .. if AKC nationals is on the east coast, AKC trials fill with folks trying to qualify. If they are far away, not so much. If USDAA Cynosport is close, those trials are packed instead.
    3) More trials, almost every weekend in my area, often more than one to choose from on a weekend … so people are pickier about venues, footing, judges, class offerings, etc.

    Agility is a great sport! Attend Westminster KC Agility in Feb and you will see thousands of spectators … sold out. And the crowd loves it. I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon (thankfully).

  9. The only reason I think there is a decline in agility trial entries is because there are so many trials available anymore, especially AKC. One doesn’t need to try hard to be able to compete every weekend and we can pick and choose the ones we want to enter.

  10. I feel that is kind of a complicated poll. I am a relative new comer to agility and I feel that there are at least 2 distinct streams. I compete in both AKC and CPE. AKC is definitely more competitive and CKC not so much. As an older newcomer to the world of agility (in my 60’s) and without the luxury of a trainer (coming from a remote area with few agility people) and at least a 3 1/2 hour drive to the closest trial it is pretty much necessary to choose one venue over the other. All things considered I am extremely happy that there is a welcoming venue for the not so competitive. So in answer to your question, I do feel that ther is an increase in novice competitors to CPE agility. It seems that Level 1 and level 2 numbers are increasing

  11. In our area whereas trials that used to fill on opening day no longer fill, there is a more varied menu to choose from. I could trial every weekend if I had the financial means and time.

  12. Responding to survey. these questions need more detail to adequately reflect the answers sought after. Example: do you think the sport of agility is attracting new handlers in order to maintain the current level of participation? Answer would be different than how you currently have it worded.

    • Hey Debbie, thanks for the note. The questions were intentionally worded to elicit each person’s perception (a bit non-scientific). Stay tuned for a follow up which will make the choice of wording on the poll a bit more clear 🙂 Lisa

  13. I personally have given up agility because of the rules always changing. Also some are very unorganized or they delay the classes to have raffles, etc.

  14. I feel that the reason for lower entry numbers at agility trials is that the AKC increased the number of trials each club may host/year. With 12 days of trialing available to multiple clubs, and with exhibitors’ funds remaining approximately the same, we all have to carefully choose which trials we will enter.

    When I hear of people’s earning MACH 3, MACH 9, etc., the sport can’t possibly be dying! Habaya and I are still working diligently on our first MACH!

  15. No I don’t think Agility is dying. The same people in Fl. just get new dogs and keep right on running even if we are old. Not many young because they can’t afford the cost. The middle age person starts after the kids are gone from the nest.

  16. I see smaller trials but the number of trials has exploded. Now trials I would normally attend are on the same weekend so I have to choose one instead of doing both.

  17. There are many more trials than there used to be. This has reduced entries per trial but probably not overall.

    There is a certain amount of aging out of handlers. For example, I am 65 years old & probably running my last dog right now but I do see young people starting out.

  18. I continue to see many of the “old” faces, some with middle-aged dogs and some with puppies or both. What I don’t see are many new faces or younger folks.

    The volunteers, bless them, are typically the same people who have done agility for years. And we all appreciate the coupons that help defray our costs for future trials.

    I am not alarmed or worried about the future of dog agility, at least not for now. I am glad to see a poll of this type.

  19. I think there are just more different venues (USDAA, AKC, NADAC, Teacup, etc etc) that the agility community is spread out. So yes, some of the trials I’ve attended may have some fewer entries, but for the most part people are just at other trials.
    Also – remember we never had summer trials (at least here in NJ) We’d be done mid-June and be off for July and Aug, bec it got too hot and indoor space was rare/expensive. Some people DO have a life outside/vacations/family, so they don’t feel they have to go to EVERY trial, but they’re still showing about the same # of times throughout the year.

  20. Poll comments. Secretaries agreed that Entry is down in East region because next nationals is in Nevada. Entries peak every year that next national is on EastCoast.

  21. I think the question regarding a reduction of entries at trials wasn’t specific enough. My belief is that the total entries per year (or month, or any time period) across the country is staying roughly flat; but the number of trials has increased and thus we see a reduction of entries at any single trial. We’ve “maxed out” the time and money that people have available to spend on agility, and also plateaued in terms of market saturation i.e. we will never see further increases in the % of US dog-owning households who are willing to participate in agility. So with no growth in % of dog owners who start doing agility, and no additional time/$ to spend, it simply gets spread more thinly among the still-growing number of trials.

  22. While I have seen a decrease in participation in AKC trials I think other venues have seen an increase. Also, I have seen an increase in novice dogs and handlers coming to trials so hopefully if they can have a good experience they will stick around. Dog agility is not an easy sport however so there will always be people giving up.

    I think if clubs hosting trials would keep their pricing down it would help a lot too and it’s a little frustrating to pay nearly $200 dollars for your entries and receive a tiny little strip of a ribbon if you place.

  23. I have been sidelined by health issues (now mostly housebound). BUT there seem to be more of my unusual breed trying/competing in Agility than ever!

  24. Yes, a decrease in individual agility trial entries. Causes: more trials to choose from, more agility organizations, more ‘other’ dog sports on the rise; all vying for a non-growing pool of pet owners interested in doing more with their pet.

  25. I think that there are so many different venues (AKC, CPE, USDAA, NADAC, UKI, etc) for agility competition that it is thinning out the competitors in the one I compete in (AKC).

  26. I remember when u appeared 2 b on Dan’s & his family coattails. Glad u survived that but some of us know better. U would show up at agility trials with your disabled plackard because u were supposedly disabled by your diabetes but would get out & run your dogs. Try Again. Does not work & I will do all I can 2 disavow u. I will b glad 2 go 2 A.K.C. & try there.

    • Hey Lori Chaddock, My diabetes was never the reason for my disabled placard, rather my 25 years with adolescent onset arthritis & the resulting joint damage. Medical professionals don’t give those out lightly & at the time it was disheartening for me to face the fact that I needed assistance during flare ups if I wanted to continue doing what I love. Judgmental people certainly didn’t make that any easier, but it made me far more accepting of myself. I’m forever thankful that you see me as a healthy individual. Thank you for sharing and I wish you success. Lisa

  27. Interesting survey, though I missed the chance to do it 🙂 I’d be interested in knowing which parts of the country various responders are from and in knowing how long they’ve been going to agility trials and which venues they compete in.

    I’m from Northern CA and have been doing agility since around 2001-2002. I’ve definitely seen a decrease in the number people and dogs entered at locals trials in the venues in which I participate (NADAC and CPE). At one time if you didn’t get your entry in the day a trial from one of these two venues opened, you couldn’t get in. Trials filled the first day. Now clubs are cancelling trials occasionally, and vendors and photographers no longer come to trials (too few people to be worth their while). I’ve heard that this is an issue for other venues in our area too, even AKC. I see very few new faces at the trial, and novice classes are tiny (made up of new dogs by old handlers).

    I remember a pretty precipitous decline in numbers in 2008, when the economy crashed. Not everyone came back after things improved. Agility is expensive, and there are lots of interests competing for people’s attention nowadays. There may be issues with overall demographics too, with economically secure childfree and empty nesters of prime agility age (forties and early fifties) are sort of a population trough between the older baby boomers some of whom are aging out, and the millennial generation, who don’t seem to be coming into the sport (yet?). Many people in our local agility community are retired, and I don’t know if there are enough middle-aged and younger people coming up through the pipes to replace them.

    Obviously, fewer people in their twenties and early thirties have dogs (let alone homes and discretionary income to spend on classes and trials–or if they do, they have kids and are pretty busy with that), and the economy still doesn’t make it easy for young people to establish themselves.

    Other explanations I have include venue stratification, with fewer competitors participating in more than one or two venues; less publicity for agility via televised events on channels like Animal Planet, more distractions in the world with people doing more traditional sports and playing more games, competition from other dog sports (like nosework and rally obedience), and people who teach classes becoming more focused on a single venue (often AKC) and not encouraging students to try other flavors of agility (or even actively discouraging some venues).

    Though people I know who do AKC say their local trials are smaller these days too.

    Maybe it’s different in different parts of the country? Or maybe the shift in numbers is less apparent to people who have been competing for less than ten years.