Who can do agility or flygility?
I LOVE agility - and I'm not at all a sporty person.
There is a misconception that you have to be fit to compete in sports with your dog. In fact people of all ages can compete successfully - there's a lot of grey hair and pot-bellies, and also many successful school-age competitors at dog competitions!
Training for agility, flyball or flygility is a great way for dog owners to
bond with their dog, make friends, and have fun.
To me, seeing boxers in performance events is a wonderful
reflection on the conformation, working ability, and
temperament of the breed. Boxers are well suited to dog sports. They are athletic and active dogs that enjoy the mental stimulation.
Around this page are photos of various Australasian boxers enjoying agility.
I've competed successfully with Boxers in obedience, agility and flygility. I have also instructed in all those disciplines at all breeds training clubs. On this page I give some information about agility training. You'll also find some training hints on my Obedience page. Flygility is another great sport - it's a great way to improve the control you have over our dog at a distance and also their confidence and speed for other events.
I got the agility bug in the 1970s when I watched my mother training her boxers for utility trials. We had a borrowed long jump and scale jump in our back yard and the dogs and I both found that equipment far more interesting than heelwork, stays, recall, and retrieves that had previously dominated the backyard training sessions.
I first dabbled in agility for myself when I trained Freddy in agility in the early 1990s. Unfortunately, Freddy's cruxiate ligament injury meant we only had a few short months of serious agility work, yet throughout her life she remembered all the equipment and commands and would merrily atempt a course given a chance.
Mother and daughter, Kiri and Rosie, have been the main agility dogs in the family, with some of Rosie's pups also competing with their owners. (SEE BELOW FOR DETAILLED LIST OF KIRI AND ROSIE'S AGILITY ACHIEVEMENTS)
Kiri was a consistent performer - usually bringing home a handful of clear rounds and ribbons from every weekend of competition. As she aged she got a little bored with agility and so I retired her in 2006 when she was 9.5 years old. Between 2002-2006, Kiri had won out of Starters, won out of Novice, and earned her Agility Dog Excellent (ADX), ADX Advanced Bronze, and ADX Advanced Silver titles. She is one of only a few Boxers to have earned the right to compete in Senior level competition and in 2003 she won a first place at that level and an Agility Challenge Certificate.
Rosie was a bit of a live wire and worked faster than my brain/body did, so competing in agility was exciting with her - she would either be switched on and firing, or not with me at all. I didn't get to a large number of events, and she took time out for a litter, but Rosie picked up an impressive number of placings. The highlight of Rosie's career would be the 2008 Canberra Royal where she won two 1st placings & two 2nd placings in the JDX and ADX events, a 3rd place in Strategic Pairs, and qualifying certificates in Open Agility and Novice Gamblers - we brought home a carload of prizes that weekend!
Interested in doing agility with your boxer?
The best place to start is with your local obedience club. Basic training is important. When you're ready to move on to training in agility, your obedience club may run agility classes too or will be able to tell you where agility classes are held in your area. If you don't have access to a good club or just want extra resources at home, these are the two good resources for getting started on the right path:
You shouldn't teach full height elevated equipment or do full height jumps until your dog is 18 months old. It is not worth risking injuring your growing dog. There are plenty of things you can work on while waiting - foundation skills (yours and your dog's) are critical, and there is equipment that is safe to do such as the tunnels and weave poles. You can also do low height jumps and obstacles.
- Susan Garrett: Puppy Peaks online course. A top agility handler. NB: I do NOT recommend her books.
Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh "Agility Right from the Start". This is BEST agility book in my opinion! Comprehensive and clear, plus using a consistent handling system.
I apply the same philosophy to agility as to obedience training: make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for the dog. That means taking things one step at a time and not trying to run before you can walk.
Keep in mind that a Boxer is not a Border Collie - they have very different approaches to 'working'. If your Boxer seems slow or distracted, it isn't because it's stupid or stubborn. It could be due to many causes...
- the breed was designed for guarding and general utility work so they may well be scanning the environment rather than just staring at you intently all the time - this is natural and does not mean they are not "concentrating".
- it may be picking up on confusing signals from you - Boxers are good at noticing inconsistencies in your body language/commands. A late signal from a handler is the most common cause of dogs going loopy.
- it may not yet be sure enough of the obstacles and how to run them in combination;
- it may need to gain more confidence at working in different venues and on different clubs' gear;
- it may be bored or distracted and needs to be helped to really enjoy the agility through more positive training methods to add value to the behaviours you are seeking;
- but do rule out physical causes for any reluctance your dog shows for completing an agility course at speed (I know of one boxer, accused of being stubborn and naughty for being slow or refusing jumps, who in fact had a serious back problem and was in pain).
Things to avoid when doing agility with a Boxer
Here are some ideas I wrote to someone who had emailed and asked if I had any boxer-specific agility tips:
BOREDOM: Over training, too much repetition, and they can
Some breeds seem to need a lot of
practice and repetition of the same exercise. I find my boxers need far less. Variety is the key I guess - keep training interesting rather than doing the same thing over and over.
NEGATIVITY: Some handlers are too firm on their
Boxers, barking commands at them and getting angry if
the dog doesn't do things right. Basically, the sterner
you get, the slower they go. They need to be
positvely motivated - doing it for fun, not because
you're ordering them to.
ANXIETY: Boxers are smart and keen to please. If
they sense they've done wrong (and they are very
perceptive), they can get anxious about it. This
happens often on agility courses and is why you see
some Boxers switch off part way round a course. For
example, handler error (eg a late command) can put the
You have to keep in mind that if the dog makes a
mistake it's *always* the handler's fault (you either
haven't trained or handled the dog as well as you
The problem is that we often send signals of being
disappointed or confused and our boxers pick up on
that and switch off. So, very important to never let
disappointment show through body language/voice.
I tend to put off my dogs because I get annoyed
at myself for my errors and they pick up on that
and think they've done wrong so get confused about
what was the right thing to do. I try to make sure I
have the same happy demeanor regardless of whether
I've just stuffed up a course completely and I if I praise
and reassure even when we do the wrong course the dog does better.
Apex Boxers Achievements in Agility
Kiri and Rosie have done pretty well in all breeds agility competitions considering I don't attend events regularly. I present their achievements below, partly to boast (and it is something to be proud of!) and partly to show that it IS possible for Boxers to beat other breeds in open competition - all these results are from all breeds events, and we're often the only boxers there! In results below, top three placings appear in red.
CLEAR ROUNDS & other results for Rosie – Apex Lady in Red ADX JDX GD SPD AAD BAAD (Her mother Kiri's results follow below).
Jul 2003-2nd place 0/35.53 (SCT45s 130m)-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Oct 2003-First Boxer in the world to complete the Clean Run-Ultimate Weave Pole Challenge
Feb 2004-3rd place 0/52.47 (SCT60s 161m)-Novice-Otago CTC-Ribbon Trial
Feb 2004-2nd place -Novice-Masters Games
Apr 2004-4th place 0/40.25 (SCT52s 141m)-Novice-Otago CTC-Ribbon Trial
May 2004-9th place 0/42.97 (SCT52s 124m)-Starters-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Jul 2004-4th place 0/56.30 (SCT62s 165m)-Novice-Otago CTC-Ribbon Trial
Jul 2004-4th place 0/35.82 (SCT48s 120m)-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Oct 2004-2nd place 0/33.020 (SCT52s 125m)-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Nov 2004-2nd place 0/41.35 (SCT60s 147m)-Novice-Otago CTC-Ribbon Trial
May 2005-3rd place 0/40.551 (SCT48s 121m)-Novice-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Jul 2005-6th Place 0/38.810 (SCT45s 120m)-Novice-Otago CTC-Championship event
Jul 2005-2nd place 0/30.837 (SCT50s 135m)-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Aug 2005-2nd place 0/29.13 (SCT60s 126m)-Starters-Southland DTC-Championship event
Aug 2005-9th place 0/30.88 (SCT46s 105m)-Starters-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Apr 2006-5th place 0/47.087 (SCT56s 137m)-Novice-Otago CTC-Championship event
Apr 2006-4th place 0/41.986 (SCT52s 138m)-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Jun 2006-1st place 0/40.84 (SCT55s 83m)-Novice-Otago CTC-Ribbon Trial
Jul 2006-2nd place 0/29.596s (SCT50 121m) -Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Jul 2006-6th place 0/33.048 (SCT68s 134m)-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Aug 2006-3rd place 0/28.787 (SCT42s 98m)-Starters-Southland DTC-Championship event
Aug 2006-4th place 0/38.332 (sct46s 128m)-Starters-Southland DTC-Championship event
Aug 2006-2nd 0/35.188 (SCT55s 137m)-Novice-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Aug 2006-1st place 0/30.959 (SCT50s 121m)-Starters-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Sep 2006-3rd place 0/31.482 (SCT50s 134m)-Starters-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Sep 2006-3rd place 0/42.659 (SCT44s 126m)-Novice-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Sep 2006-6th place 0/36.189 (SCT45s 112m)-Starters-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Sep 2006-6th place 0/34.135 (SCT50s 130m)-Starters-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Oct 2006-22nd from 108 dogs 0/35.145 (SCT44s 125m)-National Dog Training Assembly-Championship event
Oct 2006-26th from 118 dogs 0/37.980 (SCT55s 140m)-National Dog Training Assembly-Championship event
Oct 2006-19th from 149 dogs 0/37.470 (SCT50s 140m)-National Dog Training Assembly-Championship event
Oct 2006-24th from 118 dogs 0/34.452 (SCT46s 125m)-National Dog Training Assembly-Championship event
Oct 2006-RUNNER UP-Beginners Individual-Southern Flygility Group NZFDA tournament
Oct 2006-SEMI FINALIST-Open Individual-Southern Flygility Group NZFDA tournament
Nov 2006-1st place 0/34.070 (SCT52S 136m)-Novice-Southland DTC-Ribbon Trial
Nov 2006-RUNNER UP-Intermediate-Southern Flygility Group NZFDA tournament
Nov 2006-1st place 0/28.268 (121m)-Senator Class-National Agility Competition Regional Heat
Nov 2006-3rd place 0/39.451 (SCT54s 137m)-Novice-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Nov 2006-2nd place 0/32.029 (SCT50s 135m)-Starters-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Nov 2006-1st place 0/32.642 (SCT60s 136m)-Starters-Southland DTC-Championship event
Nov 2006-1st place 0/33.951 (SCT55s 133m)-Novice-Southland DTC-Championship event
Nov 2006-1st place 0/27.419 (SCT60s 117m)-Starters-Southland DTC-Championship event
Jun 2007-2nd place -Combined Elementary Agility-Kioloa ADAA event
Jun 2007-2nd place -Intermediate Agility-Kioloa ADAA event
Jun 2007-1st place -Combined Elementary Agility-Kioloa ADAA event
Jun 2007-2nd place -Combined Starters Agility-Kioloa ADAA event
Jun 2007-1st place -Intermediate Agility-Kioloa ADAA event
Jul 2007-3rd place -Combined Starters Agility-P.I.C.S.I-ADAA event
Jul 2007-1st place -Combined Starters Jumpers-P.I.C.S.I-ADAA event
Jul 2007-2nd-Combined Elementary Jumping-P.I.C.S.I-ADAA event
Jul 2007-3rd place -Combined Elementary Jumpers-P.I.C.S.I-ADAA event
Jul 2007-3rd place (from 50 dogs) 0/34.3 (SCT 43s)& qualifying cert-Novice Jumpers-ADCNSW-ANKC all breeds event
Jul 2007-3rd place (from 70 dogs) 0/46.83 (SCT 69s) & qualifying cert-Novice Agility-ADCNSW-ANKC all breeds event
Jul 2007-9th place (from 60 dogs) 0/46.21 (SCT 69s) & qualifying cert-Novice Agility-Deer Bush DTC-ANKC all breeds event
Aug 2007-Rosie awarded Agility Dog Assoc of Australia title: BAAD
Aug 2007-Rosie awarded Agility Dog Assoc of Australia title: AAD
Sep 2007-3rd place (from 34 dogs) 0/43.23 (SCT 67s) & qualifying cert-Novice Agility-Sutherland Shire DTC-ANKC all breeds event
Sep 2007-Rosie earns her first Australian National Kennel Council title: AD
Sep 2007-2nd place 0/21.21 (SCT 35s) & qualifying cert-Novice Jumping-Sutherland Shire DTC-ANKC all breeds event
Nov 2007-6th place 0/23.49 (SCT 35s) & qualifying cert-Novice Jumping-NSW Spring Fair-ANKC all breeds event
Sep 2007-Rosie earns Australian National Kennel Council title: JD
Nov 2007-3rd place 0/55.29 (SCT 63s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Agility-NSW Spring Fair-ANKC all breeds event
Jan 2008-2nd place 0/23.75 (SCT 32s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Jumping-Hawkesbury DAC-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-9th place 0/31.40 (SCT 36s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Jumping-Dogs NSW Agility Cmte-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-5th place 0/27.70 (SCT 38s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Jumping-Hawkesbury DAC-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-2nd place 0/29.714 (SCT 35s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Jumping-ACT CDC-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-2nd place 0/57.92 (SCT 70s; with Greg Collins & Ag Ch Kellie) & qualifying cert-Novice Strategic Pairs-ACT CDC-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-1st place 0/30.86 (SCT 34s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Jumpers-Canberra Royal Show-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-Rosie now eligible for her ANKC Excellent Jumping Title (JDX)
Feb 2008-2nd place 0/49.71 (SCT 65s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Agility-Canberra Royal Show-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-2nd place 0/29.6 (SCT 35s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Jumpers-Canberra Royal Show-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-1st place 0/47.56 (SCT 56s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Agility-Canberra Royal Show-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-8th place 56.52, 42pts & qualifying cert-Novice Gamblers-Canberra Royal Show-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-11th 0/40.25 (SCT 51s) & qualifying cert-Open Agility-Canberra Royal Show-ANKC all breeds event
Feb 2008-3rd Place (with Jo Ford & 'Cilla')-Novice Strategic Pairs-Canberra Royal Show-ANKC all breeds event
Mar 2008-7th place 0/50.63 (SCT 66s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Agility-Newcastle ABDTC-ANKC all breeds event
Mar 2008-1st place 0/58.35 (SCT 71s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Agility-ACTCA-ANKC all breeds event
Mar 2008-Rosie now eligible for her ANKC Excellent Agility Title (ADX)
Mar 2008-4th place 48.42 (SCT 61s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Agility-ACTCA-ANKC all breeds event
Mar 2008-3rd place 0/47.56 (SCT 56.07s) & qualifying cert-Excellent Agility-ACTCA-ANKC all breeds event
Mar 2008-3rd place, 45pts & qualifying cert-Novice Gamblers-ACTCA-ANKC all breeds event
Mar 2008-1st place 46.59 (SCT 77sec) & qualifying cert. (with Greg Collins & Coolie Ag Ch 'Kellie')-Novice Strategic Pairs-ACTCA-ANKC all breeds event
I fell behind in adding information here and my certificates are packed away somewhere after our move to Victoria. Rosie earned her SPD and GD titles and earned other placings (including a 2nd place in Excellent Strategic Pairs at the AUSTRALIAN AGILITY NATIONALS!!!) - that was the last trial I attended as non-dog parts of my life took priority for a while.
CLEAR ROUNDS for Kiri – Apex Sings the Blues ADXAS
DATE-PLACING-EVENT-CLUB-Type of Competition:
Mar 2002-2nd-Starters-Wanganui DOC-Ribbon Trial
Apr 2002-6th-Starters-Kapiti CTC-Ribbon Trial
Apr 2002-6th-Novice-Horowhenua ODTC-Championship event
Apr 2002-10th-Novice-Horowhenua ODTC-Championship event
Apr 2002-13th-Novice-Horowhenua ODTC-Championship event
Apr 2002-7th-Starters-Horowhenua ODTC-Championship event
Apr 2002-12th-Starters-Horowhenua ODTC-Championship event
Apr 2002-11th-Starters-Horowhenua ODTC-Championship event
May 2002-5th-Starters-Zone 3 Benefit Show-Championship event
May 2002-9th-Novice-Zone 3 Benefit Show-Championship event
May 2002-11th-Starters-Zone 3 Benefit Show-Championship event
Jul 2002-2nd-Starters-Otago CTC-Ribbon Trial
Jul 2002-3rd-Novice-Otago CTC-Championship event
Jul 2002-2nd-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Jul 2002-5th-Starters-Otago CTC-Championship event
Jul 2002-5th-Starters-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Aug 2002-1st-Starters-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Aug 2002-3rd-Novice-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Sep 2002-5th-Novice-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Sep 2002-2nd-Starters-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Sep 2002-5th-Novice-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Oct 2002-Clear Round-AD Trial
Oct 2002-Clear Round-AD Trial
Oct 2002-4th-Novice-Mid Canterbury COC-Championship event
Nov 2002--AWARDED AD TITLE-NZ Kennel Club-
Nov 2002-3rd-Open--PAL National Agility Competition
Nov 2002-Clear Round-AD Trial
Nov 2002-6th-Novice-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Nov 2002-6th-Novice-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Nov 2002-3rd-Novice-Southland DTC-Championship event
Feb 2003-3rd-Open--PAL National Agility Competition
Feb 2003-Clear Round-AD Trial
Feb 2003--AWARDED ADX TITLE-NZ Kennel Club-
Feb 2003-2nd-Novice-North Otago DTC-Championship event
Mar 2003-1st-Novice-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Apr 2003-Clear Round-AD Trial
May 2003-6th-Senior-Taieri CTC-Championship event
Jul 2003-1st-Novice-Otago CTC-Championship event
Jul 2003-1st-Senior-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Jul 2003-6th-Intermediate-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Jul 2003-5th-Senior-Otago CTC-Championship event
Aug 2003-Clear Round-ADX Advanced Trial
Nov 2003-Clear Round-AD Trial
Dec 2003-1st-Senior-Otago CTC-Ribbon Trial
Apr 2004-4th-Senior-Taieri CTC-Ribbon Trial
Apr 2004-8th-Intermediate-South Canterbury DTC-Championship event
Nov 2004-3rd-Intermediate-Otago CTC -Ribbon Trial
Apr 2005-7th-Senior-Otago CTC-Championship event
May 2005-Clear Round-ADX Advanced Trial
May 2005--AWARDED ADX ADVANCED BRONZE TITLE-NZ Kennel Club
Aug 2005-Clear Round-ADX Advanced Trial
May 2006-Clear Round-ADX Advanced Trial. NOTE, this is at age 9.5 years!
May 2006--AWARDED ADX ADVANCED SILVER TITLE-NZ Kennel Club
- Feb 1999--Starters--PAL National Agility Competition
- Feb 1999--Starters-Zone 3 DAC-Championship event
- Feb 1999--Starters-Zone 3 DAC-Championship event
- Dec 2000--Starters - PAL National Agility Competition -
- Aug 2001-16th-Starters-Horowhenua ODTC-Championship event
- Sep 2001--Starters-National Dog Show-Championship event
- Oct 2001-7th-Starters-Central Hawkes Bay DTC-Championship event
- Feb 2002--Open --PAL National Agility Competition