agility course test

What is the Agility Course Test program?

AKC’s Agility Course Test (ACT) program is designed as an entry point for new dogs and their handlers into the world of AKC agility trials. Tailored particularly for newcomers, the ACT offers a supportive and inclusive atmosphere where both can delve into the fundamentals of agility training. This introductory event provides an easy initiation to the various aspects of agility, allowing participants to become acquainted with the course setup, equipment, and basic handling techniques

ACT presents a structured yet accessible platform for dogs to display their agility prowess while fostering confidence and rapport with their handlers. By emphasizing foundational skills and promoting collaboration between dogs and handlers, the ACT lays the groundwork for future achievements in competitive agility.

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The Benefits Of The Agility Course Test For Dogs

Participating in the Agility Course Test (ACT) offers invaluable benefits for novice agility handlers as they prepare for agility trials. This entry-level event serves as a crucial stepping stone, providing handlers with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and build essential skills before competing in more advanced trials. 

akc Agility Course Test

The ACT allows handlers to familiarize themselves with agility equipment, course layouts, and competition protocols in a supportive environment. By practicing basic handling techniques and navigating through various obstacles like jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, novice handlers can refine their abilities and develop a deeper understanding of agility training principles.

Moreover, the ACT helps to instill confidence in both handlers and their canine companions, fostering a strong sense of teamwork and partnership. Ultimately, the experience gained from participating in the Agility Course Test prepares novice handlers for the challenges and excitement of agility trials, setting them on the path to success in competitive agility.

ACT Levels

The ACT comprises two main categories: ACT Standard and ACT Jumpers. Each category further divides into sub-levels, providing a structured progression for dogs and their handlers.

  • ACT Standard: ACT 1 and ACT 2

The ACT Standard serves as the foundation for beginners, encompassing two levels: ACT 1 and ACT 2. These courses focus on fundamental skills and basic sequencing, making them ideal for novice dogs.

  • ACT Jumpers: ACT 1J and ACT 2J

Starting from February 1, 2021, ACT Jumpers has been integrated into the ACT program, offering additional opportunities for skill development. ACT Jumpers includes two levels: ACT 1J and ACT 2J. These courses are specifically designed as entry-level Jumpers courses, omitting obstacles like the A Frame, Dogwalk, Teeter, or Table.

  • Differentiating Between Levels

ACT 1 and ACT 1J are tailored for beginner dogs to demonstrate foundational skills and sequencing techniques. These courses serve as an introduction to the world of agility, focusing on basic performance skills.

In contrast, ACT 2 and ACT 2J demand a higher level of proficiency and skill. Dogs participating in these levels must showcase an advanced understanding of agility, evidenced by their ability to navigate through a greater variety and number of obstacles.

AKC ACT Virtual Program

The AKC ACT Virtual Program offers participants the opportunity to showcase their dog’s agility skills in a virtual setting. This innovative program allows dogs and handlers to compete from the comfort of their own homes, eliminating the need for travel and providing greater accessibility to enthusiasts worldwide.

Participating in the Virtual Competition

Setting Up Your Virtual Space

Create a designated area in your home for practicing and recording your runs. Ensure that the space is free from distractions and obstacles, with ample room for agility equipment and maneuvering. Consider using markers or cones to outline the course and guide your runs.

Recording Your Runs

When recording your runs for the AKC ACT Virtual Program, use a high-quality camera or smartphone to capture clear and detailed footage. Position the camera at an angle that provides a comprehensive view of the course and your dog’s performance. Record multiple takes if necessary to ensure the best possible submission.

Reviewing and Analyzing Your Performance

After recording your runs, take the time to review and analyze the footage carefully. Identify areas of strength and weakness, noting any errors or opportunities for improvement. Use this feedback to refine your training regimen and enhance your performance in future runs.

Training Your Dog for the Agility Course Test

Preparing your dog for the ACT is the same as preparing for an agility trial. It requires dedication, patience, and consistent training. Start by teaching your dog basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come, as these will form the foundation for more advanced agility skills.

Next, introduce your dog to agility equipment gradually, allowing them to explore and become familiar with each obstacle. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise to motivate your dog and reinforce good behavior.

As your dog progresses, gradually increase the difficulty of the obstacles and incorporate sequences of obstacles to mimic a real ACT course. Focus on building your dog’s confidence and enthusiasm for agility, making training sessions fun and engaging for both of you.


In summary, the Agility Course Test (ACT) program from AKC serves as an essential introduction for new handlers to the realm of AKC agility trials. For many, it represents their initial foray into the world of “dog shows” alongside their beloved pets. The ACT not only aids handlers in navigating the intricacies of show entry, form completion, and course comprehension but also offers valuable training opportunities for assisting in the ring during their dog’s performances. 

Whether fulfilling roles as bar setters or timers, handlers can acquire these skills in a relaxed, supportive environment. It’s worth noting that any dog meeting the age and physical criteria for a standard AKC agility trial can partake in the ACT, provided they lack any AKC agility title and may already have competed in novice classes. 

Ultimately, the ACT plays a pivotal role in preparing both handlers and their canine companions for the trials and triumphs of competitive agility, paving the way for success in the sport.

Common FAQs About the Agility Course Test

Agility is open to all breeds, but certain breeds known for their agility and athleticism excel in this sport. Breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Shetland Sheepdogs are often top performers in agility competitions.

Dog must be 15 months old to participate in the agility course test. Also the dog cannot have any agility titles.

Yes, older dogs can participate in agility as long as they are in good health and physically capable. However, it’s essential to tailor training and competition expectations to accommodate their age and fitness level.

You can search for agility clubs or organizations in your area that host events and competitions. Additionally, online platforms and social media groups often list upcoming agility events and provide resources for newcomers.

Practice regularly with your dog to build their skills and confidence on various agility obstacles. Attend training classes or workshops to receive guidance from experienced instructors and learn the rules and regulations of agility competitions.

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