Improving our sport!

Today’s entry is part of the The Dog Agility Blog Action Day on “Improving Agility Organizations”  to read what others have to say on this topic  visit: HERE

Agility is a great sport with a great community of like minded, dog loving people, so in my opinion there is a lot more right in agility than wrong…but with that being said, there is always room for improvement.

I think in general, the organizations do a fair job at listening to the people about changes that we feel should be taken place, however, it does seem a little slow sometimes.  I compete in USDAA and AKC and love them both, but each venue could do a little better with the following:


jump height cut offs are a bit extreme.  I have a young toller pup who will be between 16-17 inches, as it stands now, she would have to jump 22″ – that is crazy.  I know that this is already a topic they are addressing, so hopefully there will be some changes before Vixen is ready to compete.

Really, just lower the a-frame abit– While I am very happy that they went from 6’3″ to 5’10″…do we really need to have this differ from 5’6″??

Are check -in’s necessary at the beginning of the day? with the exception of team days, when restructuring of a broken team might be needed…won’t you figure out who was here by the scribe sheets?

BTW – LOVE the ability to move down my dog in one class, while I stay in championship in another…and the lateral move!  I will also be taking advantage of veteran’s classes soon…kudos for that ( please expand the program)

Which brings me to AKC…

Why in the world do we need to have a stupid sticker on our shirts to say we are running our dog…it’s not like anyone can see them anyway and they fall off in the sweat or rain or not sticker sticky fabric before the day is even over.  And it’s not like you can’t have someone else run your dog…you just need to switch stickers…it is a hold over from obedience…LET IT GO!  There can still be a number for the day for cataloging purposes…but REALLY we don’t need to where them…I promise you it will be OK!

Speaking of things we inherited from other competitions…

Why can’t we wear clothing that says are dogs names on it.  The judge is going to know are dog’s name before the run is over anyway… many judges we see enough for them to know us and our dogs…and judging agility is much more objective than some other events…so it should be a non-issue.

Decrease the distance allowed between trails at least in areas that have long wait lists.

Add a Veteran’s class….I would love to be able to run with my partner as long as she wants…I could do this longer by jumping her 2 jump heights lower!

Ok – now for some general improvements that may be considered across the board ( not sure if it would apply to only one venue…so I’ll assume it doesn’t)

Safety of conditions :   Recently there was a trial ( happened to be an AKC trial…but could occur in another venue possibly) where the surface of the jumpers ring was NOT conducive to jumping dogs on, and I was shocked that the club booked it and shocked to realize the the judge allowed it, only to find out later that the judge apparently has no authority to refuse to do so.  Yes, I know that this is ultimately up to us as exhibitors decide, but  REALLY why should a surface so obviously NOT correct to run agility on even have gotten to the point of whether individuals thought it would be worth trying with there dog.  I know that this is being discussed in another blog, BAD DOG AGILITY so I encourage you to check out  a sample run from that surface there and see what they had to say.

I don’t want to bash any handler who did try this with there dog…I wouldn’t have, but I know that my dog does not handle surfaces well that are much better than that. I thank them for showing the video so that we can have this discussion and ultimately improving the sport by allowing judges to make a call to deem the surface/conditions unsafe and clubs to witness how horribly inappropriate this type of surface is for dog agility.  I said that this could have happened in any venue…but not as likely from a venue who’s entire reason for existing IS agility. I would like to think that this decision was made by a club member who didn’t know any better because they don’t do agility.

This leads me to something that WE can do/must be responsible for This video was one of 2 that I originally saw…both were veiwed, shared discussed then made private and not view-able for awhile.  I can only guess that the handlers in these videos got harassed for attempting to run on the surface.  I don’t think bashing people for making a choice that you don’t agree with ( and they probably didn’t either after having tried it) solves anything.  It is rude and unsportsmanlike.  Which is something we can all take personal responsibility in doing.

I grew up playing team sports and am used to wining AND losing…and while the vast majority of people handle a bad run well, some people just don’t.  They blame the dog, the crowd, the judge, the ring crew…someone else did (fill in the blank) to cause them to NQ.  I’m not saying I am perfect at this ALL the time, but would like to think I am seen by outsiders as someone who seems to be having fun and loves my dog and shows good sportsmanship to other competitors.  We ARE the sport of Agility and it is up to us to improve it!












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