Agility is a sport we do with our dogs. As with any sport, there will always be risks. Our dogs do this sport for us and it is OUR job to keep them safe!
There is one organization that prides itself on being more difficult than others. Under this veil of pride, is an A-frame that is set higher than any other organization here or in Europe. Why is that? Why won’t they listen to their competitors who are begging them to lower the A-frame to conform with the other, more reasonable organizations? The dogs hit harder on the way up as well on the way down on the higher frame. I refuse to put my dogs on that high piece of equipment so they don’t get my entry. I am sure they don’t care what I think, but they should at least consider the dogs’ safety and the more important competitors’ opinions!!!
Serpentines and wraps are extremely hard on fast large dogs! Serpentines cause dogs to load all of their weight on one rear leg to push off. That is a lot of force on a large, heavy dog! Wraps are horrible! Dogs are going all out, then asked to wrap tightly around a standard and come back in the direction from whence they came. This puts HUGE torque on the dog’s body and legs. The only thing worse is a wrap from the backside of a jump! The dog is completely stalled out and then has to hurl its body over the jump. Where is the common sense in this sport?
But the BIGGEST safety issue in all of agility is the dog walk! I have seen so many horrific falls from the dog walk it makes me sick. WHY OH WHY is the dog walk four feet high? WHY OH WHY is the dog walk only a foot wide? WHY OH WHY do judges put HORRIBLE approaches to this VERY dangerous obstacle? This should NOT be considered a training issue. There are novice people who have no clue how to teach a dog to load onto the dog walk safely. There are handicapped people like me who can’t always get there to help their dog when judges put in a terrible approach to contacts.
WE are the adults! WE ask our dogs to do agility. It is up to US to make sure that we keep our dogs safe! Our dogs do incredible things for us. We need to use our heads and not set them up for a fall or worse! Angled entries onto the dog walk need to be removed from agility! Even better, the dog walk should be lowered to three feet or LESS. It only needs to be high enough to put a tunnel underneath (but not for wraps up it!).
The video below is sickening. Turn up the sound for the full effect. This little dog was never the same after this fall and ended up having to retire from agility.
As if the height and width of the dog walk were not bad enough, some judges still design a wrap out of the tunnel up the dog walk! WHY IS THIS LEGAL??? ANYONE with an IQ higher than their belt size should know how dangerous that is! My first agility dog had to retire at SIX years old because of damage done to her back due to falls from the dog walk! I didn’t know how to help her. Even if you do know how to help a dog to get on straight, wraps out of a tunnel make it extremely difficult for a very fast dog to set themselves up for success.
Even worse than a wrap out of the tunnel up the dog walk, is setting the tunnel exit to angle towards the dog walk up ramp rather than straight! WHO DOES THAT??? That sends the dog past the up ramp so they have to come back to load, making their approach to the dog walk even more crooked!
That was the case recently. The result was a bad fall for our dog ending in a rear leg injury.
Here is that fall in regular and slow motion. It could have been a lot worse had she been a large dog. The dog walk was very close to the wall shelf and had she fallen on that, she really could have been hurt badly, OR WORSE! As it was she hit the dog walk support leg (which should really be padded!).
I BEG judges with all my heart to PLEASE stop putting in wraps out of tunnels up the DW!!! If the organizations are too stupid to figure out just how dangerous they are, then it is up to YOU to help keep our dogs safe! I have begged AKC to lower the dog walk but there is a vocal minority who want it to stay where it is. Evidently, International competition dog walk practice is more important than our dogs’ well-being.
PLEASE stand up for our dogs! When others make fun of you for wanting the dog walk lowered or certain safety issues addressed, DON’T LISTEN TO THEM! THEY ARE WRONG!
STAND UP FOR YOUR DOG!
Helen Grinnell King