By: Sally Silverman
Your first agility trial: What to bring along
Your entry is confirmed and you are ready to set out for your first agility trial. So, what do you need besides the dog? Plenty! Though you might not need everything listed here, many are things that will keep you and your dog comfortable in a variety of conditions. You will probably find that the more you get into agility, the bigger the vehicle you require to keep things on hand!
Paperwork. Bring your trial confirmation and height or registration cards.
Crate or X-Pen. You need some place to safely secure your dog while you walk the course or go to the bathroom. Some people confine the dog to the car in very mild weather. Having a place to rest is also essential to the dog’s comfort.
Shelter. A tent or canopy offers shade and protection from rain. You may be lucky enough to have a friend or mentor who will share their shelter.
Ground cover. A plastic tarp or mat keeps your belongings clean and dry and prevents dogs in X-pens from eating grass or dirt.
Sun shade. Reflects the sun’s rays when draped over the crate or car, or hanging from the shelter.
Portable fan. Cools you and your dog.
Cool coat. For a heavy or dark- coated dog, consider investing in a coat designed to keep him cool in hot, sunny weather.
Chair. For long stretches of down time. Pull your chair up to the ring to watch others run the course. This is very educational.
Dog bed. If your dog is more comfortable on something cushy, bring it along.
Dog toy or tug. Whatever you typically use to rev him up.
Water. This may or may not be available at the site, and many dogs prefer their own home water.
Treats. To reward that good dog!
Snacks and meals. For both of you, particularly if you will be gone during meal times.
Clothing. You want to be dry and comfortable, warm or cool, from head to toe. Always pack an extra layer. A raincoat is a must and rain pants are often very welcome. Some people keep an extra pair of shoes and socks, pants and shirt in the car or their trial bag. Tuck a pair of gloves and warm hat in as well. Waterproof shoes and socks are great on wet days. Remember a brimmed hat to protect you from the sun.
Sundries. Sun block; any medications you might need including allergy meds and anti-inflammatories for injuries; something to keep you entertained between runs such as newspaper, book, puzzles or music; notebook and pen for recording information about your runs; baby wipes or sanitizing gel; sunglasses; bungee cords or large clips; a video camera to record your runs; and, of course, poop pick-up bags.
Make sure that you have ample gas and directions to the competition site. Some confirmations include directions. Just to be safe, cross check them with an online service or a good old-fashioned map.
Sally Silverman is a freelance writer who writes for horse and dog publications including Dressage Today, USDF Connection and Clean Run. She shares her home and heart with three Australian Shepherds. A member and instructor at Y2K9s Dog Sports Club outside of Philadelphia, she enjoys Agility, Canine Freestyle, Tracking and Rally O. She is happiest when with her dogs: learning, competing, hiking, or sharing a cuddle on the couch.