Supporting agility dogs with specialist lifetime cover


One step beyond ABC

When one of Susan Waltman's friends kept suggesting that it would be fun to adapt agility to specific groups of breeds, she finally decided to have a go. She let her imagination run wild and tried to imagine what the dogs themselves would come up with if left to design the game. In the whimsical spirit of the holiday season, here is what she came up with. Can you do better?

Interspecies agility
It would certainly sort those nifty collies out. They would be so busy watching the sheep, and the cats etc. that they wouldn't concentrate on the agility. That would give all the other breeds a chance.

Then just think of the slogans you could use.

  • Chicken Agility - Go to agility on an egg
  • Sheep Agility - Ewe know it makes sense
  • Turkey Agility - A turkey is for Christmas - Get a Life

The possibilities are endless!

So a question for you.  Would a chicken be penalised for using its wings to get over the A-frame if it still touched the contacts? Aileen Clarke

Spotted at a Country Fair in North Yorkshire some years back now... Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs doing Agility!! Now admittedly they didnít whiz round, jumps were set to Mini (yes, that long ago!) the A-frame and Dog (Pig) walk were lowered, but otherwise these pigs seemed quite good and happy going round! Roger Brown.



The confines of the agility course shall be expanded to allow for mad centrifugal 'zooning' particularly in the case of Peebs (Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeens) where points should be awarded for the number of peebs careering round the course at any one time. Extra time points can be awarded for the 'stop and stare' on top of the dog walk. As a peeb, you don't get this vantage point very often! Gillian Jenkins

Instead of wheeling the course, a smelly fox, coon, or rabbit-skin will be dragged along the most efficient path of the course. No penalty will be assessed for going under jumps, provided nose stays glued to the ground (i.e. dog never looked up to see there was a jump in front of him). Agility shall be demonstrated by recovering quickly after dog trips over own ears.

Quail and other ground birds loose on the course for the Pointers to stop and look  at additional points for each bird pointed.  Extra time allowed to convince the Pointer to continue with the course.  Points lost for not finding the bird. Gayle Rickard

Flood the ring with water and introduce some ducks. Several seconds deducted from overall time for every duck retrieved. An added bonus over the past two summers is that this class could have gone ahead without any special equipment!  Kerstin McDonagh

Hunting species
'Tree' the judge at the top of the A-frame. Kerstin McDonagh

Pulling breeds
Will be required to run last in their class and remove equipment from ring or reposition it as part of a course re-build. May require wheels to be added to equipment, though. Kerstin McDonagh

Let's introduce a proper tunnel. Equipment hire companies will now have to supply a JCB as well! Kerstin McDonagh

Pastoral breeds
Border collies, kelpies, working beardies and similar herding breeds will be required to finish each run with the dog rounding up and penning the ring party. The brace version will, of course, include the first dog keeping the judge, scribe, caller et al penned while the second dog completes its run! Kerstin McDonagh

Golden Retrievers
I run two Golden Retrievers. This is their version of an agility course. The dog who can get the most pats around an agility course is the winner. Time must be allowed for having to stop and scratch or roll in an interesting spot. A river to navigate is a must, and no more than six weaves. There must be a grandma in the middle of the course to stop and lean on for a cuddle and tea & biscuits. Isobel Crawford

I would like to suggest some Spaniel friendly changes to agility courses: Firstly handlers would have to run the course carrying a plate of food without spilling any. Spilling the food would not cause elimination but would probably result in hefty time faults.  Contact points to be extended to cover entire contact equipment - most Spaniels do touch contact equipment at some point while flying over it - special rosettes would be given out for all Spaniels with especially flappy ears (this has happened to us once and we really enjoyed it!), weave entries would be from either side - I mean, is it really anything to get uptight about? and weave poles would be strictly limited to maximum of three to prevent onset of terminal Spaniel boredom.

Any Spaniels managing to actually return a bird to hand during the round would automatically win, preferably the bird should be feathered and not thieved from someone's tent. Any food items stolen from members of the audience during the course of the round do not get penalised and the handler does not have to reimburse them. Another special rosette to be given to any Spaniel managing to swim across a river or lake in the course of their round and please do not worry about setting the course in a nice, green spot. Spaniels have 4 wheel drive and prefer to get muddy. Jo Wormald

This form of agility would be open to all three sizes of schnauzers. The dog would be shown the course map ahead of time. No numbered cones would be used. The dog and handler team that correctly completes the course with the handler running the most efficient path would be declared the winner. Alternatively, each dog would have two handlers. One would walk the course while the dog watched. The other would run the course taking the path dictated by the dog. In either event the dog's wrong courses would not be penalised, only the handler wrong courses would be faults. Diana Barber

As a one-off Colliador, Bramble has her own way of looking at things. There would be lots of big jumps to fly over - that's the keen collie half - and plenty of tunnels to steam through - there goes the Labrador. The contact obstacles are okay, but please can she have a big reminder that the see-saw is the see-saw as it's a bit embarrassing to find yourself six feet up in mid-air 'cos you weren't listening. She would like to add a few new obstacles to the course such as a big wooden stile that's for showing off and a ditch. Jumping or swimming is optional but you must finish with mud up to your tummy. And don't forget a sofa. One wet afternoon her 'dad' decided that indoor agility was the way to go. And the weaves? Well, a little pack of canine teenage hooligans with big teeth would be just the job! Lizzie Fotheringham

Doberman Pinschers
An ideal course for my dobermans would need at least six  A-frames, 20 tunnels and a few jumps which must be jumped in a totally random order. The judge would have to be specially trained in speedily moving the tunnels back to their original place before the dobermann returns to it - a  matter of seconds. Oxygen tents would also be useful for the handler at various points around the ring. Lesley Crawford

Poodles will have a choice of two types of competition.

  1. Style and grace - the winning poodle is the one judged to jump with the most grace and poise in the air. The poodle will also need to be beautifully groomed and be wearing the best bling. Posing for photographs whilst competing will not be faulted.
  2. Most entertaining - For poodles who are not quite so in love with themselves. This competition will be won by the poodle who gets the most laughs whilst making the handler look silly! Points will be awarded for tricks such as ducking behind handler and nipping into tunnel, followed by more points for a lap of honour to the laughing audience. Pausing on top of the A-frame for over one minute will score double points. The poodle who trips up the handler when nipping off in the wrong direction will not be penalised for giving handler mouth to mouth resuscitation. Sharon Brewster 

Boxer/Bull Breeds
Handler participation is purely optional as is course design. Numbers are also not necessary. There should be as many people as possible on the course as introductions are so important. People obstacles are more fun than inanimate ones so lots of these please. No collies are allowed within a mile of the competition. One last thing... there should be several photographers placed in strategic places for whom they will pose to catch that special moment forever. Marcia Hocking

The Sighthounds would have tall, skinny tunnels. All jumps at least 36" high with more room between them to pick up speed. There would be lots of spread jumps, some to be taken at sharp angles (just because we can!). Oh yes, and a penalty for touching that yellow stuff going up the a-frame. Who needs up-contacts? The winner will be the dog who lands farthest from the a-frame after launch...

Bonus points to be awarded for each zoomies lap completed within course time. Last obstacle will be the revised closed chute, which is to say, a full-size couch, with blanket to burrow under.

Dogs which go clear on the course will be required to race once round the perimeter of the ring. As a variation on the Power and Speed-theme, only the time from the racing lap counts, but dogs faulted on the course are required to leave the ring without being given the chance to complete the race. Kerstin McDonagh

Toy breeds
Toy breeds would have itty bitty equipment, very close together. All the equipment would be scaled down and much closer together. The table replaced by little old lady in a wheelchair. If dog leaves her lap to complete rest of course, that's a clear round.

Re-introduce the table, but make sure that these tiny tots rest in comfort on a lace-trimmed velvet cushion for 5 seconds. "Killing" the said cushion will result in a time penalty, while running out of the ring with it and refusing to return it to the handler will be an elimination! Kerstin McDonagh

Protective working breeds
These big tough dogs run the course, while making sure that the nasty old judge is never allowed on the same course with mom. Alternately, they use the a-frame as a Schutzhund blind. The judge/decoy shall hide until the dog is pre-occupied with a tunnel or weave poles, then  shall attempt to escape the course area without being caught & detained by dog. Number of collections or challenges on the early part of agility course shall determine how long dog is allowed to grip judge/decoy before being asked to release.

Water breeds
Install the agility course on the bottom of the lake. Dog and handler shall swim the first part of the course together, including weave pole-buoys, then dog shall tow handler to safety atop the a-frame. Handler shall direct rest of course from there, including retrieving dropped scribe clipboard from bottom of lake. Underwater tunnels could be interesting...

From Susan Waltman
No offence intended to any breed or group (not even the poor maligned judges). I'm just acknowledging that formal agility competition in all weather conditions is not exactly the job that each breed evolved to do. I, for one, appreciate our dogs' willingness to play our silly games with us.

Now can you think of any other examples of changes your dog would make?
Send your ideas to Agilitynet.

E-greetings from Mari Hurskainen with tongue in cheek...
Here are some ideas for Terriers I know would love. Obstacles are to be taken in  free order. The handler is not allowed to be anywhere near the course. The tunnel is to be dug under. There will be four rats inside the chute. The dog who kills them the fastest is the winner. Whichever dog manages to bark the loudest with amount of decibels to be judged to be the winner!

Border Collies: The handler and dog team who manage to be the farthest away from each other during the whole course win.

Picture credits: Dog with sock by Kim Blundell;  other characters from Man's Best Friend game produced by  Mo-Net.


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