Dogs will run, leap and navigate their way through tricky obstacle courses during the Taranaki Masters Games next month.

The dog agility competition will be held at the Hawera Dog Training Club in Normanby on March 11 with judging starting at 9am.

Competitor Sarah Clements, who recently moved to New Plymouth from Stratford, says a course will be set up with weaves, jumps, A-frames and other obstacles, and competitors must complete the course within a specific time.

Dog agility competitor Sarah Clements and her dog Tuk.
Dog agility competitor Sarah Clements and her dog Tuk.

"Everybody is given 10 minutes to walk the course without their dog to see where to stand, at which point to tell the dog left or right or however they have trained their dog to know what is next."


If a dog knocks a rail off a jump, they get points and the aim of the competition is to receive no points. All dogs with no points at the end of the competition are judged on the time it took to run the course.

"With great technology there are computerised eyes which read the time from when the dog starts its course to when it finishes. It is fun to watch the dogs go through their paces and it can be a laugh when a dog goes the wrong way, refuses to listen to its owner and stops for a rest on the course.

"One of my jack russells used to always get up to the top of the A-frame and stop to have a look around before coming down the other side."

Sarah says she has four dogs, but two — Toby and Trudy — are retired from agility due to age.

"All dogs have enjoyed their time travelling around New Zealand going to shows, including the national show which is held once a year."

Sarah will compete at the games with Tuktoyaktuk (Tuk for short) who is a blue and white border collie who enjoys weaving and running the course. She also has a fourth dog, Tannah, who is a young border collie still in training.

Dog training starts at an early age and competing starts at 18 months old.

"It can take several months to train your dog and most people still train them regularly in between shows."


Sarah has been competing in dog agility for 10 years and says it is a social sport where she has made many friends.

"When my father was on the Masters Committee and running petanque in the masters I decided that dog agility could be part of this and we have now been part of the Master Games for seven years.

"People come from the Bay of Plenty, Wellington and all over to compete with their dogs as it is a fun event and puts Taranaki on the map."