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Agility Dog Training Classes

Agility Dog Training Classes in Washington, D.C.

Agility is a sport where a person directs a dog through an obstacle course. Each course is completed in a set time — usually under one minute. The obstacles vary depending on the agility game and are run in numerical order. The person directing the dog is called a handler and, at trials, an exhibitor. The handler and dog together are referred to as a team. 

Every dog has the potential to learn agility. It's a myth that only purebred dogs are permitted to take part in the sport. HRA agility alumni include rescues, mixed breeds, and dogs with disabilities. 

Dog owner walking agility course with dog Dog owner walking agility course with dog

Benefits of Agility Classes

Agility provides a dog with physical exercise and intellectual stimulation. The sport’s approach to teamwork has the added bonus of deepening the bond between a person and their dog. 

Most dogs want a job, and agility can be a great supplement to other training. 

  • Restless dogs who never seem to tire are mentally exhausted after an hour of agility practice. 
  • Couch potatoes can often be enticed into action by agility’s exciting energy—and, of course, training treats. 
  • Young or timid dogs gain confidence. 
  • Older dogs succeed at navigating age-appropriate obstacle courses. 

Dog Agility at the Humane Rescue Alliance

Humane Rescue Alliance offers what no other agility program in Washington, D.C. can, including: 

  • Instructors experienced in teaching all levels
  • A full set of competition-grade equipment, including weaves, tunnels, tables, and hoops
  • Three contacts 
  • Single-double-triple-panel-tire jumps 
  • Professional flooring 
  • Strict protocols for keeping dogs safe, sound, and fit 
  • Weekly run-thrus 

Dog jumping through agility hoop. Dog jumping through agility tunnel.

Agility Requirements 

  • Basic manners course completion 
  • Proof of rabies vaccination 
  • Bordetella, distemper parvo vaccines 
  • Signed liability waiver 
  • Respect for staff, students, and dogs 
  • Agility For Fun: 6-month age minimum 
  • Advance courses: registration is based on successfully completing previous HRA levels or at the instructor’s discretion. 

view our agility class schedule 

Agility Instructors 

Whether taking class just for fun or with the ambition to compete, HRA agility instructors are here to educate the DC-area dog community. 

Chip Gerfen

Chip Gerfen and his dog.Chip Gerfen is an agility eight-time world team member, international medalist, U.S. Gold Medal award winner, and UKI judge residing in Takoma Park, MD. For years, Chip trialed his super star Mini American Shepherd, Trudi, in USDAA, UKI, and AKC venues across America and Europe. He is now training his young dog, Dylan, in agility. 

Trudi is Chip’s first agility dog and he distinctly remembers what it felt like to know nothing about the sport. He works hard to demystify agility for newbies and to train more advanced teams to excel. 

“The sense of bonding and connection with our dogs lies at the heart of what makes agility a profound experience,” he says. 

Kristina Maze

Kristina Maze and her dog with their agility award ribbons.Kristina Maze competed coast-to-coast with her dog, Kingsley, in CPE and AKC venues. During his career, Kingsley was Washington, DC’s only champion-titled agility dog and for two consecutive years, the highest-ranking 12” preferred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the country. 

She’s taught at HRA for two years and with the expanded agility program, looks forward to training more gifted dogs and people eager to learn the sport. Kristina also leads the inaugural HRA Agility Crew‚ö°District of Columbia. 

“You will never have as much fun with your dog as when you run agility. Those moments when you both click as a team are pure joy,” she explains. 

Evann O’Donnell

Evann O'Donnell and her dog.Evann O’Donnell first tried agility after a trainer recommended it for Roxie, her active HRA puppy. Now full grown, Roxie channels her energy into the dog sport and has earned three agility titles. 

Evann shares her enthusiasm for agility with her students, especially newbies. A popular instructor, her HRA classes regularly sell out. Her favorite part of teaching is watching a person’s relationship with their dog grow as their training skills improve. 

A highlight of any class, she says, is “that moment when you've guided your dog at top speed through a course they've never seen before and it feels like you've flown a jet through a china shop!”  

Janine Castorina

Janine has competed in agility for several years and has been a dog trainer for over a decade.

She discovered agility after a friend suggested it for her hyper husky-cattle dog, Hermes. Hooked, she soon began assistant teaching Introduction to Agility classes. Although agility is her first love, Janine also takes her pack to obedience, rally, and tricks classes. An active volunteer for a local dog club as well as dog rescues, she advocates for positive reinforcement training.

Teaching agility continues to be a uniquely gratifying experience. “The students and their dogs are great and watching them progress in the sport and grow as a team is so rewarding,” she says.  

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