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Getting Started

Image by Claudie-Ann Tremblay-cantin

What is NALA?

NALA is the National Agility Link Association. It offers a competition covering 11 months of the year, and a magazine, which is produced every month except July.

The competition is carried out at lots of different sites across New Zealand. Whangarei Dog Training Association runs the competition as part of its club activities.

NALA can be used as a gateway to attending agility ribbon trial and championship events. It provides the opportunity to have a go at real competition courses in a small supportive environment where you can learn the ropes. It's particularly useful for transitioning a novice dog from a training-only environment into a competition environment.

It also provides an opportunity for people to learn how to get involved in the running of the competition, from setting up the course, scribing (recording results) through to getting a taste of judging

What to do

Come Down to Watch

If you would like to come along as a non-competing watcher and see what it's all about before joining up, please Contact Us to find out when we're next running NALA. This is a great way to figure things out without the added stress of handling a dog.

Minimum requirements

These requirements exist to ensure that you and your dog are able to participate safely in NALA competitions. If you have any doubt or questions, please Contact Us and we will endeavour to assist.


  • Your dog must be at least 18 months old

  • Must have completed at least a basic level of agility training

  • For Junior Link (handlers 20 years and under):

  • Should be able to sequence 9-12 obstacles (jumps and tunnels only).

  • For Standard Link:

  • ​Should be able to sequence 13-18 obstacles.

  • Must be confident and safe when navigating the A-Frame or dog walk. One or both of these will be present in 2 out of every 3 courses. Note that accommodations may be available for teams that have not yet had the opportunity to learn the dog walk or A-Frame, see below.

  • Weave poles will be present in 2 out of every 3 courses, but the judging requirements are relaxed compared with standard competition. NALA is a good place to start the transition from weaving at home or club to weaving in the ring.



So you are ready to try NALA:

What to do

What do I need to bring?

  • You and your dog.

  • Somewhere to safely contain your dog when not competing. e.g. a crate. Dogs must not be tied out to a stake or similar.

  • A bowl and water for your dog.

  • Reinforcers for your dog. Treats, toy, whatever it is your dog works for.

  • Water and sunscreen for you.

What do I do when I arrive for my first time?

  • Try to arrive in plenty of time so that you can exercise and toilet your dog.

  • Setup your crate, secure your dog (and vehicle).

  • Introduce yourself to us! We'll be the people dragging heavy dog sports equipment around. We may not be able to tell the difference between you - an aspiring NALA competitor - and a regular member of the public that's out walking their dog - so please do approach us.

What do I need to know about competing?

As with any sport or group activity there's some etiquette and/or rules to be aware of. This is not an exhaustive list, but represents the things you're most likely to encounter on your first visit.

  • Don't let your dog approach anyone else's dog without checking with their handler (from a distance) first. Not all dogs enjoy having a strange dog in their face/sniffing their butt.

  • No food (human or dog) is allowed on the course until after competition has finished for the day. This includes food in containers - e.g. treat pouches/containers. Food rewards may be used off the course at the end of a competition run, but not on the course and not mid-run.

  • When competing, your dog's collar may not have any dangly things on it. i.e. no council tags or other tags. A plain D-ring (where you attach the lead) is permitted. Dogs are permitted to run without a collar.

If you are unsure about something - anything - please ask. We will be very happy to answer.

What usually happens at NALA?

  1. People will arrive, walk and toilet their dog, then secure their dog.

  2. We get the equipment that we need to construct today's course out.

  3. One person has a course map and they use this to place markers on the ground indicating where equipment should go. There will be typically be another person with them carrying the markers.

  4. Everyone else picks up equipment and move it to the markers.

  5. The course is numbered, then checked and measured. Larger pieces of equipment are then pegged to secure them.

  6. Then we all "walk the course". This is pretty much what it sounds like. The humans walk around the course, starting with the first obstacle, then the second, third, and so on. Each person will make a plan for how they're going to tell their dog where to go. Most people will walk the course multiple times to make sure they remember where it goes and to rehearse their plan without their dog.

  7. Then we take it in turns to run the course with our dogs. We will have people in charge of recording the results, as well as someone who is reponsible for judging (scoring) the runs.

  8. The course is then renumbered for the Veterans and Juniors Link, and this course is walked and run.

  9. Then the course is renumbered for the current month's Game. We do a quick rules refresh and then we walk and run this.

  10. There's usually a short time (10-15 minutes or so) for some quick training - food is allowed to be used on the course during this time.

  11. Finally we all help to put the equipment away.

The whole process takes about 2.5 - 3 hours from start to finish.

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