Epidemiology of Injury Among Handlers and Dogs Competing in the Sport of Agility

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Little is known about the epidemiology of dog sport–related injuries. This study examines injuries among handlers and dogs in the sport of dog agility.


A cross-sectional pilot study captured data on demographics, exposures, and injury for a sample of agility handlers and dogs. Logistic regressions predicted odds of injury.


Survey of 217 handlers and 431 dogs identified 31 handler injuries (1.55 training injuries per 1000 hours, 2.14 competition injuries per 1000 runs) and 38 dog injuries (1.74 training injuries per 1000 hours, 1.72 competition injuries per 1000 runs). Handlers most commonly injured knees (48.4%) and lower trunk (29.0%). Most common diagnoses were strains (51.6%) and sprains (32.3%). Obese handlers had increased odds of injury compared with normal weight handlers (OR = 5.5, P < .001). Dogs most commonly injured front paws (23.7%) and shoulders (15.8%). Most common diagnoses were strains (44.7%) and cut/scrapes (21.1%). Injury was positively associated with dog’s age (P < .05). Handlers more commonly reported positive physical, emotional, and social motivations for participation than competitive.


Despite many health benefits, dog agility poses a risk of injury to both handlers and dogs. Future research on specific mechanisms of injury should drive evidence-based injury prevention strategies.

Kerr is with the Dept of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Fields is with the Dept of Physical Activity and Educational Services, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. Comstock is with the Center for Injury Research and Policy, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH.