Who created canine agility and why?

The creation of canine agility performance and competition is credited to John Varley. Varley was a committee member for the 1977 Crufts dog show in England. He needed to come up with a way to entertain the audience between the parts of the dog show that were being formally judged. Varley and a dog trainer, Peter Meanwell, came up with some jumping-style obstacles for dogs to show their agility and speed.

Though canine agility was first used for entertainment, it quickly spread and today is a popular competition for many dog breeds and dog owners. The early days of canine agility set the stage for the types of obstacles and agility course layouts that are still used today. Obstacles like the A-frame, tunnels, dogwalks, weave poles and jumps were used in the first canine agility demonstrations in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, canine agility competitions are a way to measure dog’s speed and accuracy when completing complex courses made up of a variety of obstacles. Handlers lead dogs through the course with no leash and no incentives. Dogs are challenged to complete the obstacles successfully in the shortest amount of time.

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