We had a viewer ask our suggestion on which dog agility organization someone just starting out in agility should start with. When you have been in training for awhile, different times for different teams, and you feel you are ready too step into the competition ring, there are several options available to you as beginners.
For some teams this is a really exciting moment and for others it can be a bit overwhelming. There are differences in venues and everyone has their favorite. Our experience is that it really depends on the area where you are at. Most venues are really good with beginners, but TDAA is super fun for small dogs and CPE tends to be very low key and a great place for beginners to start. We also want to state that most training clubs hold their own fun matches and should be able to help you find “local” trials.
If you have not already, we highly recommend that you attend some trials either to watch and better, to volunteer. This will help you get a better understanding of how the trial is run. It will also help you decide which venue will best fit you and your dog. Without the stress of hauling your dog around, you can attend as many different venues as you can locate in your area. Then, when you have made a choice you can bring your dog to the next event and get your feet wet.
Here are some suggestions from other competitors that have been around the block a few times:
In my area (central WI) we have almost entirely AKC trials and a person can run at least one weekend a month, or two if they don’t mind driving between 20 minutes up to 1 1/2 hours to a trial. I have found people to be helpful and friendly for the most part in AKC agility and I like being able to train and then work all the obstacles. The other venues are much further away and seem to offer few trials.
If you have it in your area, I always suggest CPE! The people are super friendly and if you want to start with some easy courses and not have to worry about teeters and weaves on your first time out, Level 1 in CPE is great. It gave me a ton more confidence about going out at trials.
For my first agility trial I ran in an ASCA venue and it was amazing, the people were supportive, the judge was amazing, and they have very spaced out equipment. CPE is also a very nice venue to run in that I ran in for my second show.
Get out there and give them a shot. You won’t really know what your team needs until you get out there and try. Good Luck and Clean Runs!