It’s been 7 years since I last brought out a puppy measuring into large height. And 5 years since I last brought out a puppy at all.

But just the past month I’ve started competing with my youngest dog, Clyde. He’s currently a little over 2 years old.

A couple of the courses we have run so far have been really fun. Some have left me with my heart in my mouth. Others have been so risky I’ve opted not to run.

Risk is an inherent part of agility. But for safety courses for novice dogs should always have these 5 features: 

  1. Entries to contacts which allow the dog to straighten up well before the up plank, especially the dog walk. Novice dogs do not necessarily anticipate equipment early, especially as it may not look like their training equipment. They can easily lose balance and fall. If in doubt, put a tunnel before the contact, with the tunnel exit taking the dog on a straight line to the dog walk up plank. Or a weave, with the weave exit finishing on a straight line to the contact.
  2. The aframe approach should not allow the dog to gain too much speed. This avoids excessive force going through the dog as he drives onto the up ramp.
  3. Very well secured tunnels which are straight or on loose curves only. If there aren’t enough bags supplied for the tunnel, remove it from the course.
  4. Timing gates should be set as close as possible to the start and finish obstacles.
  5. Fast approaches to bounce jump scenarios should be avoided. Where minimum distances between jump obstacles have to be used it should be when the dog is already decelerated, for example at the start of the course.



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