How big is a dog agility course?

Are you wanting to get started with agility training at home, but do not know if you have enough space? Wondering how big a dog agility course is?

The quick answer is that a competition-sized course is usually around 10,000 square foot. However, you can train on a much smaller space at home and work on most skills in rather small areas.

Let’s look at what the different competition venues require in terms of space, as well as how to get the most out of your home setup!

Table of Contents

how big is a dog agility course

How much space do you need for a dog agility course?

If you want to set up a whole course including all obstacles, expect to need at least around 5,000 square feet. This is because it will require some space to put up the weave poles, contact obstacles, tunnels as well as a variety of jumps.

In total, a standard agility course contains:

  • 15 or more jumps (these can be simple bar jumps, but also contain a broad jump, tire jump, panel jump, double and triple jump or wall jump)
  • 2-4 tunnels and tunnel holders
  • 1 set of weave poles
  • 1 dogwalk
  • 1 teeter totter
  • 1 A-frame
  • 1 pause table

In order to be safe, you need a minimum distance between jumps and other obstacles. If you put them too close together, your dog will not be able to take off from the right spot and could crash and hurt himself.

If you do not have that much space available, it is actually much smarter to just set up a few obstacles, but with adequate spacing in between them. For a large dog for example, jumps should not be closer than 10-15 feet. Your dog will need this distance to regulate his striding and take off safely.

german shepherd at a big agility field

AKC agility course size

The American Kennel Club is the biggest agility venue in the USA. Their guidelines state that a competition-sized ring needs to have at least 5,000 square feet of usable space for Novice courses, 6,500 square feet for Open and 8,000 square feet for Masters. 

These however are minimum requirements. The ideal AKC ring size is 100 x 120 feet. This adds up to an impressive 12,000 square foot of ring area.

USDAA agility course size

The United States Dog Agility Association is known for its challenging and often spread out courses. Some Snooker or Steeplechase courses may be as spacious as 140 x 140 feet – 19,600 square feet in total!

ASCA agility course size

ASCA is the Australian Shepherd Club of America. They call for a minimum of 8,000 square foot for the ring size. Ideal however are 12,000 or more. Like USDAA, ASCA likes to challenge a dog’s speed and the handler’s distance skills, therefore the trials might be held in much larger areas.

NADAC agility course size

The North American Dog Agility Council requires at least 8,000 square foot of ring size. They state that this is the absolute minimum and 10,000 square feet or more are to be preferred. This organization is known for its very wide and open courses that require excellent distance handling skills. The courses in this venue can be a lot larger than “just” 10,000 square feet and as spacious as 15,000 or even 20,000 square feet.

CPE agility course size

CPE calls for agility ring sizes to be at least 100 x 100 feet. Larger is always preferred. In this venue courses are also spread out and require the dog to navigate obstacles independently.

UKI agility course size

UKI distinguishes between outdoor and indoor venues. In outdoor locations, the course needs to be at least 105 x 105 feet. Indoors there is no specific requirement for the size, however the rulebook states that the course size must be “appropriate for the test”. Furthermore, this organization allows variations on the ring size as long as they are approved beforehand.

indoor dog arena

Making the most of small spaces at home

As mentioned in the introduction, you do not need to have a gigantic 12,000 square foot ring at home in order to practice agility. Most skills can be rehearsed and trained in much smaller spaces. If you have as little as a 10 x 10 foot area, you can practice plenty of one jump exercises and drills. 

It is tempting to try and crowd as many obstacles as you can into a small space – do not do that! Instead, make sure that your dog has ample distance to approach each obstacle safely. Many dog owners with small yards choose to own several different agility obstacles, and only put out the ones that are working on currently. This way they can make certain that their dog does not get hurt trying to run around a crowded course.

In general, your dog will learn more in a small area with fewer obstacles than in one with a lot of obstacles. One very important skill in agility is to send the dog to a jump or tunnel from a distance. Especially for dog and handler teams with a lot of speed difference, this is a crucial skill!

Indoor & outdoor courses

Most agility courses are set up outside. Indoor rings usually have less space available. If you train in a smaller indoor location, you should consider only using the obstacles you will practice the most – usually these are jumps, tunnels and weave poles.

Some agility clubs hold their indoor competitions in horse arenas. These are very spacious and can accommodate even widely spread-out rings.

In the warmer states, outdoor fields are usually perfect. If you live in a location with harsh winters or a lot of rain, an indoor ring may be necessary to get enough practice in.

The Bottom Line

A full-sized agility ring is very large. Most organizations require a ring size around 10,000 square foot, measuring at least 100 x 100 feet. This may be impossible to set up at home. However, you do not need such a big field for your daily practice.

Outdoor arenas usually offer a lot more space than indoor rings.