Does it makes a difference whether a dog has a tail or not in jumping? Well, tailless dogs have a particular jumping style that is different from dogs with tails. It is particularly evident when they have to turn sharply after landing. Aussies, Rottweilers, etc. always take an extra bounce with their rear to make the turn. This, is in lieu of a tail which would normally help the rear end to swing around. (Chris Zink)

Top ten reasons to build your own equipment

  1. Nothing better to do on a lovely Saturday afternoon.
  2. Want to get to know the cute guy at the hardware store a little better.
  3. Needed an excuse to buy the "More-power" Power Screwdriver. (VRRmmrmrmrm)
  4. Paint fumes, paint fumes, paint fumes
  5. I figure if my dogs forget what I look like they'll pay more attention to me on course.
  6. Painting hundreds of square feet of equipment builds the muscles in my signaling arm.
  7. I like to answer the question "You're building this for your *dogs*?"
  8. Just love to countersink!
  9. Wanted to be the first in my neighborhood to have a complete agility course in the backyard.
  10. I've always wondered what a hot pink Aframe would look like.

(Lynda Oleksuk)

Requirements to be an Agility Judge

  1. Insanity
  2. Triple layered thick skin
  3. Ability to tune out the world
  4. Too much time on your hands, or retired or rich or refer to #1
  5. Like abuse, member of a masochistic cult helps to prepare.
  6. If married, a spousal unit that accepts #1
  7. If single, realization you will stay that way, again refer to #1
  8. Frustrated desire to draw, perfect for engineers, drafts people etc.
  9. Thoroughly enjoy being the center of controversy, derision and on rare occasions, respect and gratitude.
  10. Great vision and flexibility, allows you to see the unseeable and be everywhere at the same time.
  11. Silver tongue, refer to #12 and #13
  12. Unlisted phone # and address (for safety reasons)
  13. Great disguises for escaping after the trial
  14. Fast vehicle, refer to #11

(Tom Kee)

Top Ten Reasons for Doing Agility

  1. Needed an excuse to travel
  2. I love watching the sun rise
  3. Wanted to try out my new sneakers
  4. I have more money than sense
  5. Have too much free time for my own good
  6. I love mud
  7. Needed an excuse for my dog running around and barking like an idiot
  8. I look great in a rain poncho
  9. Training for a spot on "That's My Dog!"
  10. Two words...I'm insane!!

(Mary Jo Sminkey)


CONTACTECULE (kon-'tak-ti-kyool) n.the smallest particle of a toenail a judge can see to determine if your dog made the contact.

CRATIFY ('kray-ti-fi) vb. to convert a van or station wagon for canine transportation.

ESTIWALKING ('es-te-'waw-kin) n. trying to figure out a course's obstacle order before the numbers are placed.

FRAMEGAZING ('fraym-gay-zin) n. when your dog stops at the top of the A-frame and looks around at the spectators.

HESITIP ('hez-e-tip) vb. when the dog slows down and leans back on the teeter just before the tip point.

IRREDULAR (ir-'red-ye-ler) adj. a Snooker run that is faulted in the opening sequence.

JUDGE FRIGHT ('juj 'freyet) n. a dog's belief that the judge is an axe-murderer.

MISCOMMANDICATION (mis-ke-mand-i-'kay-shun) Calling out the wrong name for the next obstacle.

NOSTAYACIDAL TENDENCIES (no-'stay-uh-sy-dal 'ten-den-seez) n. the overwhelming desire of some dogs to start the course while the handler's back is turned.

NOWAYZONE (no-'way-zon) n. the area farthest from the Gamble. Refers to your chances of making the Gamble if you are in this area when the first whistle blows.

OTHERLEFTITUS ('uth-er-left-'ti-tus) n. a condition in which the handler is constantly giving the wrong directional command. POOPYLACTIC (poo-pe-'lak-tik) n. the plastic bag used to pick up dog doo.

PREMATURE OEXITATION (pre-me-'tur o-eg-se-'tay-shun) n. the act of leaving the table before the "O" in "GO".

UPULSION (pu-'pul-shun) n. the invisible force a handler uses to make the dog perform an obstacle at a distance.

REPOLE (re-'pol) vb. to correct a weave pole performance without having to start completely over.

RETUN ('re-tun) vb. to perform back-to-back tunnels.

ROLLOCLES ('ro-lo-kels) n. dried-up, week-old bits of dog treats found in your pocket.

SUBCINCO (sub-sin-ko) adj. describing a run with less than 5 faults. In USDAA this describes a run in which all obstacles are performed correctly but over time by no more than 5 seconds.

UNTUN (un-'tun) vb. when a dog reverses and comes out the same side of a tunnel he entered. The act is also known as "tunnel bounce".

WAVE POLES (wayv pols) n. what weave poles become when a fast dog goes through.

WHERETOWHIRL ('hwer-tu-hwerl) n. the spinning motion a dog makes after completing an obstacle not knowing where to go next.

(Mark Friedman)

Here are some ideas for teaching agility to cats!

  1. Pause (coffee) table -- cat must jump up on table and remain for at least 5 seconds while handler yells for cat to get off the table.
  2. Hiss at the crowd -- at a point in the course which takes the cat nearest to the crowd, the crowd will applaud and the cat must let out an audible "hiss".
  3. Scratch in the sand (pause box) -- no explanation necessary (#1 or #2 qualifies)
  4. Sofa Snatch -- cat must find the rubber mouse under this obstacle within 30 seconds.
  5. Climb the curtains -- cat must ascend the draperies, touch the ceiling (tail qualifies) and descend while touching the contact zone on the way down.
  6. Catch the goldfish -- in the interest of saving aquatic lives, the cat must simply make contact with the fish in the bowl (no eating allowed).
  7. Scratch & weave -- cat must weave thru a series of posts, scratching only the last one.
  8. Find the can opener -- at some point during the run, one judge will turn on the power to an electric can opener, and the cat has 10 seconds to locate it.
  9. Drink from the Toilet -- again, self-explanatory.
  10. and finally, the Finish Line -- cat must dash for the cat carrier and handler must close the door.

(Jon Merryman)

You know you're an agility person when....

YKYAAP when: You dress like a lawyer on weekdays and someone who needs a lawyer on your days off.

YKYAAP when: You plan your pregnancy around the show season so you won't miss trials during the eighth and ninth months.

YKYAAP when: You buy clickers by the case, and carry them in your pocketbook, your briefcase, and the console of your car.

YKYAAP you'll drive an hour in a snowstorm to get to class, but God forbid you have to drive 1/2 hour to a friend's house for dinner.

YKYAAP when your six year old brother tells everyone that he's going to be the "ring steward" at your aunt's wedding.

YKYAAP when your friends no longer ask to get together with you on a weekend afternoon because they know you'll say -- "I can't, I have to train."

YKYAAP when you consider a golf course as a waste of a good show site.

YKYAAP when your boyfriend complains that you love your dog more then you love him and you answer: "And your point is?"

YKYAAP when your husband does something nice for you and you say "good boy" and pat him on the head.

YKYAAP when you're trying to get by a co-worker in a restricted space and instead of saying "excuse me" to him/her, you tell them to "keep out" instead.

YKYAAP when one wants to ride in your car because they'll get dog hair all over their clothes...that's ok because then you'd have to rearrange all the crates to make room for them, anyway!

YKYAAP when you pass up attractive social invitations because they'd conflict with your training schedule.

YKYAAP when you don't even want to think about how your car would be paid for, your mortgage would be much smaller, and you might have some savings if you didn't do agility.

YKYAAP when you trade your yuppie mobile for a van, so you can better accomodate your dogs.

YKYAAP when you give directions to your house and say, "It has a tunnel and a bunch of poles in the front yard."

YKYAAP when you pull change from your pocket at work, and treats fall all over.

YKYAAP when someone says, "Does anyone have a screwdriver?" and you hand them a powerdriver.

YKYAAP when the real estate agent asks what kind of house you want and you say "One with an acre of flat land".

YKYAAP when for once you have extra money to buy yourself something, and you get the check out counter and decide that you don't really need that shirt anyway. That $25 could be an entry fee!

YKYAAP when you have the class and show schedules in your head, but frequently miss the kid's piano lessons, girl scouts, or changing the oil in the car.

YKYAAP when your tax refund is targetted to buy an Aframe, not the family vacation.

YKYAAP when your greatest wish for Christmas is a set of weave-a-matics.

YKYAAP when your mood today depends on how yesterday's training session went.

YKYAAP when you leave work feeling stiff, tense, with a stomach- or headache, and all those feelings disappear the minute you get to agility class.

YKYAAP when you hate posing for pictures unless you're with your dog.

YKYAAP when the only way you would spend a lot of money on a trip to Europe was to go to Crufts.

YKYAAP when your idea of a social outing is the Saturday night agility trial dinner.

YKYAAP when you spend more time riding in your car going to agility classes and events than you spend at home.

YKYAAP when the concept of sleeping in on the weekends has long since faded from your memory.

YKYAAP when you known more about canine nutition than human nutrition and it shows.

YKYAAP when you've forgotten what a vacation is, because you spend all your paid time off (re)painting equipment, visiting the vet, going to shows, etc.

YKYAAP when you don't try to figure out your to-date-expenses for the dogs, cuz you don't want to know, and it doesn't matter.

YKYAAP when suppertime is generally at 8PM, and everyone has been home since before 5.

YKYAAP when a bicycle is used mostly to exercise the dog.

YKYAAP when the only thing your friends, colleagues, passing acquaintances can think of when they see you is "How are the dogs?" or "How many dogs do you have now?" or "How did you do at the last show?"

YKYAAP when you get your income tax refund and the first thing you do is head for the hardware store.

YKYAAP when you go on a diet, not to be more attractive, but to be a better handler.

YKYAAP when you don't think that weather is just casual conversation.

YKYAAP when your house is "decorated" with rossettes and ribbons.

YKYAAP when the maroon ribbons have a more prominent spot than the blue ones.

YKYAAP when you drive by ANY field ANYWHERE and judge its qualities as a training site. This includes trips to foreign countries.

YKYAAP when you can't make it to work because of bad weather, but somehow still fit in some training.

YKYAAP when you feel tired all day at work and then go home and train 3 dogs.

YKYAAP when you can pinpoint anything you might need in 2 seconds in the hardware store, but seem to have misplaced this month's electric bill.

YKYAAP when the first bills you pay each month are all trial fees.

YKYAAP when you count how many strides you take in between the cracks in the sidewalk, the shadows of trees, etc.

YKYAAP when you don't have to be asked by your non-doggie family what you want for Christmas anymore, cuz they now get their own agility catalogs.

YKYAAP when your first priority when moving or traveling is to locate the nearest training facility.

YKYAAO when you gladly move Aframes and dogwalks around, but make the kids carry in the groceries.

YKYAAP when you buy so much rain and outdoor clothing you wind up on mailing lists for hunting, fishing and survivalist catalogs.

YKYAAP when the bulk of your grocery order is hotdogs.


You own a Real Agility Dog if your dog:

  • is able to steal food off the dinner table without making the plates clatter in a tell-tale fashion.
  • can manage to squirm his way under the backyard fence through a hole a squirrel could barely fit through.
  • puts his paw on the automatic door lock in your car just as you are reaching for the handle (Doing this in cold weather when the windows are only open a tiny crack & the keys are in the car is a super Q!)
  • has practiced that perplexed look while sitting on the pause table watching you beg & plead for a down, then does an instantaneous down on command after crossing the finish line.
  • races out of the pool & positions himself in close proximity to a maximum amount of people before shaking the water off his coat.
  • performs a complicated choreography of circling while you urge him to "do your business" in the wee hours of a snowy night.
  • turns around on the dog walk, and goes back down to the ground, because he thought he smelled something interesting back there.
  • foils any attempt you make to keep him away from the kitty litter box.
  • plays keep away from you long enough to snarf up the week-old hamburger he found in the park.
  • carries a tree-sized stick through a dense forest, but being unable to maneuver through the house in those torturous, Elizabethan collars.
  • break-dances on that wonderful smell in the middle of the ring.
  • uses that head duck he worked so long to perfect to escape his collar when he realizes he has nothing broken that needs to be "fixed."
  • gets into the closed trash bin to retrieve a favorite toy that someone threw away because it was too "old & ratty"
  • is able to swipe a steak off the grill without getting any of his whiskers singed.
  • goes from 0-60 in a split-second when the cat saunters by thinking he's asleep.
  • sprawls innocently on your bed after a hard day of training or showing, just so he won't have to sleep on that measly dog pad.
  • greets you at the door with a wild tail, happy grin and leaping body when you've had an especially hard day at work, then insists you take him outside to "train agility."

(Tracy Hanna)

(With apologies to Mr. Poe)

Once upon a weekend dreary
A handler plotted, bright and cheery
O'er a hand-drawn chart of the course before.
Certain that she'd found each trapping,
Confident of the run she's mapping,
Sure this time, they'd have a perfect score.
Yawned the Corgi, "Whatever for?"

"What? Do you not remember?
You've got no legs since last November.
These wild and crazy runs I most deplore!
More attention you must be paying.
On the contacts you must be staying."
Grumped the Corgi, "What a bore!"

But for this run, she was ready
Even Rascal seemed more steady.
Wishing for a run that's clean and nothing more.
All the bars up he was leaving,
Through the weave poles he was weaving.
He'd stick the contacts, and the traps he would ignore.
Sighed the Corgi, "More like a chore."

And the handler, she was happy.
Even the time was quite snappy.
Fiercely proud of the dog she did now adore!
Took the ribbons, maroon and blue,
Then they announced; "A title too!"
But the dog was not impressed with the uproar.
Planned the Corgi, "No encore!"

Written on the occasion of Rascal getting his AD at Canine Capers, March 7, 1998, by Ken Shavor


Greetings Fellow Agility Competitors! Here are a few tips for those of you who are just starting out. Before we begin with our advice, we want you to understand clearly that agility is a game and is supposed to be fun. These tips are intended to keep it that way and to remind your handler at all times that this is the way it should be. If you mess this up, s/he is liable to get all serious on you and forget why you both are there.

Part I. Walking the course.

A. Generally your handler will leave you in your crate while s/he walks the course. This is not a problem, because you will have plenty of opportunities to hang around and watch later on. During these opportunities, you should try to get your handler to play ball or frisbee with you - the closer to the ring the better. If s/he has a squeaky toy, insist on it. This is a good way to meet your fellow competitors - especially the ones currently running.

B. The other ringside activity that is fun is to pretend you have totally forgotten who your handler is. That will inspire him/her to bring out the clicker and the bait bag and start playing attention games. This also can lead to interesting new acquaintances.

C. Look for "bumper-looking" sand bags near obstacles such as the chute, tunnels, see-saw and some jumps. (See "Running the Course" below.)

Part II The Start Line

A. If this is a really well-designed course, once you get to the start line you will suddenly see the dog that was standing in front of you just moments before barreling toward you at full speed. There are a number of ways to handle this depending on the conversations you may have had with this dog while you were both waiting in line. Our advice: be creative.

B. Be prepared to have your handler tell you to "Sit" and "Wait." Don't do it! Go along with the "sit" part, but as soon as your handler takes one step away, head for the first obstacle at full speed. This takes your handler by surprise and increases the excitement of the game which, of course, makes it more fun.

Part III Running the Course. (This is where we really excel!)

A. Try, if you can, to grab the #1 Marker Cone before you do the first obstacle. It may be awkward, but it usually can be done without turning back and earning a refusal (only a problem in AKC). If you can't get the first one, you may have to wait for the tire. (Alternatives are bumper-looking sand bags that may be placed near the chute, some jumps, or the see-saw.) If you manage to grab a marker cone, try to get it over your nose. This has great crowd appeal - especially when it emerges from the chute ahead of you. If you get a sand bag, stop along the way at some point to shake it vigorously and try to engage your handler in a game of "Keep-Away" in mid-course. Remember you're here to have fun!! Handlers need to remember this!

B. Table Performance. For some reason, they keep putting the table on the course (except for NADAC most of the time). This is NOT a fun obstacle and it is incumbent upon you to convey this. You can turn it into a game as follows: when your handler says "Table" or "Box" or whatever, do three fast spins in front of it and look up into the air. When s/he says it again, do another three fast spins and look at him/her as if s/he was crazy. (This is especially effective in Gamblers.) When s/he walks right up to it and points at it, jump over it. The second time, run around it. The third time, grudgingly creep up on it, and when s/he says "Down!" go down in front, but keep your butt in the air OR sit and slide down your front, but don't let your elbows touch. There are many variations of the table game. Your goal here is to get your handler to thinking in creative ways - hopefully creative enough that soon the table will be eliminated altogether. Finally - if your handler is trusting enough to start walking away, jump up before the judge stops talking and try to get to the next obstacle before your handler can react. If you make it, you win!

C. Tire performance. This is almost too simple to discuss. First of all, there are at least seven ways you can perform most tires - six of which do not involve actually going though the round part. What you want to aim for, however, is a crowd-pleasing spectacle. This can only be accomplished by crashing the tire, sending pieces of the frame flying in all directions. We are pleased to report that our leader managed to do this in a trial on our very own tire that she had practiced several times a week for several years to very good effect. Before you try this, make sure it is a PVC frame, not a wooden one. Those can smart. (Note: for those of you just starting out - running under the tire is not classy!)

D. Contact Zone Performance. The possibilities here are endless, but our advice is to save your creative urges for the last contact obstacle. By that time, your handler will have relaxed a little. The best way to proceed is to creep down the ramp until your right foot is just a hair above that line and stop dead. When your handler tells you to keep going, look him/her straight in the eye and ask if s/he really means it. Ask again, holding your position. Ask a third time (there's magic in the number three). If s/he becomes really insistent, comply by jumping off. A variation of this is to creep on down to the end and sit on it. Refuse to move until you get your treat for waiting.

E. Dog Walk and A-frame Possibilities. Aside from the contact zones, there are a number of games you can adapt to the dog walk and a-frame. One of our favorites is the "Lookout Game." The idea here is to get up on top and stop to survey the neighborhood. We try to spot interesting games or activities that might be taking place outside the ring. Some favorites are ball and frisbee games off to the side. Sometimes we can spot kids who are running or wrestling or otherwise in need of our supervision. Our leader once spotted a soft ball game on an adjacent field where the players obviously needed assistance fielding balls and went directly to help. Tennis players are also often in need of help to herd their balls back to them. Remember, public relations is an important part of this sport. If you notice that your handler is lagging too far behind, you should grab the opportunity to perform a spectacular dog dive from the top and run back to encourage him/her to keep up. Finally, this is a good vantage from which to check out possible snack sources on the sidelines - kids with hot dogs, stewards with bagels, etc. Mark these locations and plan your snatch carefully.

F. See-Saw Performance. Although the see-saw is not high enough for looking around, we have found several entertaining games to play with it. One favorite is to run up and find the balance point and stand there, shifting one's weight back and forth from front to rear. We call this the rocking dog. When your handler insists that you stop, jump off to the side. Another good one is to go all the way to the end, then pivot and come back in the other direction, making sure to touch the contact zone before dismounting. You may do this several times if you like to play see-saw. The important part is always to dismount from the original entrance side.

Part IV. Care of Judges

A. Sometimes we notice that judges take themselves and their duties too seriously. Remember! We are all supposed to be having fun. So don't forget the judges. Make friends with them! One method which we have found effective is to run over and jump on them half way through the course, giving them a big kiss and asking for a cookie. They seem much more excited about this attention when it is raining. Poor things must be all cold and depressed. You can also use this opportunity to let them know how much you appreciate all the work that went into designing this particular course. (Boy dogs - bless 'em - have a leg up in this department.)

B. You can also be very instructive to judges. Show them a better order for running their course than the one they have devised. After all, since they are designing courses for dogs, you know they will value the dog's opinion of how it should be run and appreciate you all the more for demonstrating this.

Part V. Care of Your Handler

A. It is important to keep your handler motivated on the course so s/he doesn't lag too far behind. This can be done by a technique we call "Cheerleading." Encourage him/her loudly and vocally to pick up his/her pace. Accompany your verbal encouragement with many fast spins to indicate that speed is what you're asking for. (Be careful not to let your "cheerleading" turn into just plain nagging!)

B. One of your duties is to make certain the course is clear of rabbits, chipmunks, ducks and other varmints which may constitute a tripping hazard for your handler. The first time you get out there, put your nose right on the ground and follow any trails that may be there all the way to the end to make sure none of these critters are lurking in ambush. This is one of the times it is best to ignore anything your handler says. You know what is important!

C. Ever so often, it is a good idea to play exactly by the rules your handler seems to think are important. It really seems to give him/her a lift to run quickly through the course without stopping for incidental games along the way. It is good to do this once in a while. A cautionary note here, however. We have observed that handlers who finish the novice classes get much more serious and stop having as much fun. So although we do support giving the handler pretty much what s/he wants once in a while, we do not support graduating from novice classes. The solution ? Simple. Do everything perfectly the way s/he wants it - then drop the last bar. A more crowd- pleasing alternative to this method is to go between the top and bottom bar on the last jump without knocking either of them off. We do admit this takes precision and planning but is well worth it in terms of crowd appeal.

A final note: none of these strategies is meant to be repeated. The key is to keep it original, keep it fresh, and keep it fun! Happy trials to you -

(Fran Seibert)


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