Goin’ to an Agility Match OUTSIDE!!

 This Saturday the Boston Terrier Club of Western Washington is having an AKC all breed agility trial at Lakebay Wa. They are hosting an agility B Match after the trial day is done around 230 pm. We also are having a Judges dinner BBQ/potluck starting around 3pm so bring a dish to share as we have stuff to toss on the grill. We also will have a few vendors if you would like to come early and shop.

The trial and the match are outside on grass with sheep fencing (large open squares of light weight net fencing). Back in March I gave you post about a B Match at Argus with lots of good information so you may want to read that if you didn’t see it the first time.   This modifies the information you need for an outside match. marshal bends in two to weave

First and foremost you must have a recall because we are outside on grass with sheep fencing as a ring barrier. There are no walls, there are no gates, a dog could run out of the ring and the ball field and get hurt or hurt someone else.

Again, the match I am describing is an AKC (www.akc.org) event which means dogs must be under control at all times and on leash everywhere except in the ring and at the warm up jump. If you do not have off leash control you are not ready for a match yet. Dogs may not be on a prong or corrective collar on the show grounds—martingales are okay but dog is expected to run in flat or rolled buckle collar for safety. While flexi/retractable leashes are permitted on the grounds they are not a good idea at trials because you should come to the line on a proper leash and (IMO) when walking your dog at an outside trial there is even more things to get tangled– humans or pop-up shade tent legs or chairs.

This type of match does allow toy rewards but NO FOOD on the course. It is extremely difficult to get crumbs out of the grass and no one wants to lose a Sunday qualifying run to treats that fell out of a pocket Saturday night. Dogs must meet the same criteria for the match as for a trial—they must be over 15 months in good health and have an AKC number (http://www.akc.org/register/?pre=breeder&activity=puppy MIXED BREEDS are welcomed in agility as well as other sports). Don’t forget need to be careful with your verbal corrections—nothing so harsh or loud as to upset bystanders. Again, if there is a serious problem or mishap the club must report it to AKC and punishments can be assigned for serious offenses even for a match.

A match for training purposes is for dogs and handlers that know how to safely engage the equipment on a course but you don’t have to do all the course as designed. It is NOT for LEARNING the EQUIPMENT but for experienced teams to practice skills (start line stays, wraps, contacts, serpentines, weave poles, shorter sequences) in the very different environment of an outdoor trial and for new teams to see where they are on the agility journey. You don’t want to put a dog in this type of match if they have never done the equipment or never been in such a stimulating environment. Why?? Because you don’t want your dog hurt by doing the equipment incorrectly nor do you want your dog to become afraid of the equipment or the environment and, since you are limited in your use of rewards and corrections, you don’t want them to become ring-wise (that is where they know you can’t get after them or bribe them like you do at home when they are being naughty or crazy)

Althea on grass
Althea on grass

We are offering a match for training purposes this weekend at Volunteer Park in Lakebay Wa on the Key Peninsula. It is a lovely park with a couple nice open spaces and a little forested walk. It is a site that has hosted AKC agility trials for years so the club is very happy to be part of that tradition. We expect to START the match around 230pm but with outside trials anything might happen to affect how the trial runs, so be flexible. When you arrive, leave your dog in the car. Get the lay of the land. Get a plan. then potty the dog. The sounds and energy level of outdoor trials is very different from places like Argus but still watch yourself and your dog in the path ways to the rings as folks are running back and forth.

We typically have you (or someone you have do it for you) sign up $5/90 seconds (cash check or worker voucher) during the day of the match (in this case Saturday August 6). You may do which ever      ring(s) you want as many times as you want (at $5 for each 90 seconds) but be aware that can be a long time when you are working on your plan…or trying to get a dog to come to you. You will sign up by jump height and you may jump whatever height you wish. (IMO) jump lower for working on your handling or problem solving or a new place and regular height for conditioning. Also jump lower if the grass is damp or slick—I hear the weather should be in the 70’s.

You may park wherever there is room and there is overflow parking/camping in a field above the trial area. Just follow the road you come in on straight past the ball fields and up the dirt hill.

The Trial Secretary’s table should be not far from the rings so please


don’t drag your dog up to the secretary table to ask questions. You usually sign up for matches by the Secretary Table as well as find out when the measuring official is available. I will be wearing my new brown ball cap with this logo

To be officially measured you need an AKC number (http://www.akc.org/register/?pre=breeder&activity=puppy ) to be sound and over 15 months old. If you would like an unofficial measurement or to get your dog use to the measuring process please ask for assistance as the wicket is expensive and we don’t want it knocked about.

Since this is a public park it is imperative that you pick up any and all pet waste you come across or your dog deposits. There is no off leash area around the rings and the big field also has campers using it so you should not be off leash there either. Also, other folks may not have the recall they THINK they have when their dog sees your dog or your dog sees their tennis ball/Frisbee/stick. Don’t assume anyone wants their dog to interact with yours.

Again if you don’t know about the mental preparation of going into the ring –even to practice—please understand from the perspective of those of us who are running dogs (IMO). Please let us focus on the course and our dog before and after our run. Don’t come ring side and start chatting about our breed or want to tell us how the run looked or ask questions about strategies. We are trying to focus on the job at hand and build the bond with our dog—who is getting amped about running before we go in and demanding praise and cookies when we get out. We may be running to get our next dog so timing is precious. Ask questions or share observations once everything is settled back down for that handler. This is especially important to those who are agility instructors—students might want to film their runs for discussion later but please let them enjoy the time with their dog.

Trialing outdoors can be a great deal of fun but it does offer a different level of challenges. Hope I haven’t overwhelmed you but, the more you know and plan and train, then the better and more successful your agility career will be.

 Safe travels, Theresa and the Cardis


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