There’s an exciting new addition to the Canada Day celebration this year that puts a spotlight on our canine friends. Sun Peaks will welcome furry four-legged guests to the resort on Saturday, July 3 for the first ever dog agility demo.
Dog agility is the fastest growing dog sport in North America. To compete, dogs go through an obstacle course with direction from their handlers. The course may include jumps, tunnels, tires, climbing frames and other obstacles.
“In competition, it’s a timed event and the winning dog in each class must run the course with few or no mistakes,” explained Phil Zacharatos. Zacharatos is a dog handler who runs a dog training facility in Kamloops with his wife and fellow dog trainer Mary.
It’s not hard to see why the sport has become so popular. It’s fun for spectators and makes for an enjoyable challenge to both handler and dog.
“Spectators will see many different dogs running, jumping and climbing (which the dogs really enjoy). We will set up a couple of different courses during the day and the dogs will have a chance to run through them a couple of times.”
Agility is an inclusive sport, which means that any able-bodied dogs can do it. For the agility demo, expect to see a variety of dogs—purebred or mixed breed, big or small.
Zacharatos said dog agility can be a great way to solve canine behavioural problems. “There will also be quite a few dogs that have been adopted from a rescue group or the SPCA. These dogs are often re-homed because they’re very energetic and get into trouble without a job to do, so if they’re lucky enough to end up doing agility, a lot of their problems lessen or go away altogether.”
Having a strong dog and handler connection is very important as dogs compete in an open field without a leash. Zacharatos said he uses a combination of a rewards-based training and responsible dog ownership to foster this type of relationship. Part of the fun is seeing the dog’s personality as they perform for an audience.
“Spectators love to see the really fast dogs, such as border collies, executing the course at the speed of light, but equally fun to watch are the dogs that clown around a bit and wander off to meet the crowd.”
The Dog Agility demo will be held 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on July 3.