Author Topic: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors  (Read 8349 times)

Sharon Nelson

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SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« on: April 24, 2013, 01:07:24 PM »
Hi, judges and competitors.
    This is a note to all competitors and judges that we will immediately addressing a current issue that is becoming more and more of a common problem.  It has always been assumed that a competitor is in "control" of their dog when the lease is removed.  In the past we have not had to address issue, as it was a rarity to see competitors use methods that made a judge wonder about the control of the dog at the start line as the leash is removed.  But the concerns are getting higher as we see more and more instances of handlers releasing dogs and the dogs have crossed the start line and the leash has not yet been placed on the ground.  We now also have several instances of unsafe runs when the leash gets tangled in the dog's hair or the handlers fingers as the dog bolts across the start line and they have yet to be completely "freed" from the leash.

    We have never had to fault handlers for a lack of control at the start due to a dog's bolting as the leash is removed but we have now had many instances of dog's crossing the start line and the handler is still holding the leash or have attempted to drop it, but it has not hit the ground before the dog crosses the start line.

    The control at the start line is one of the first tests of "teamwork" of the team during the run.  For a handler to not be able to control their dog while the leash is removed and safely placed on the ground will hereby be addressed by judges at trials.  The judge may give a 5 fault penalty for the leash not hitting the ground before the dog crosses the start line to an elimination if the judge feels the dog is totally out of control during the removal of the leash.

    This is not "new" and control at the start has not previously been such an issue as it currently seems to be.  With the many instances of dogs crossing the start line before the leash has been safely removed and put on the ground we are now going to have to address this issue.

     Handlers, be sure that you can safely remove your dog's leash and that the leash is "on the ground" before your dog crosses the start line.  You may not hold your dog by the scruff or use any harshness to attempt to control the dog while the leash is removed.

Sharon
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MoabDiane

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 01:18:50 PM »
Glad to see this addressed.

And hoping that by accidentally hooking my bracelet on my dog's leash before it was removed....thus delaying our start, while said dog sat ever so politely and unmoving...wouldn't be faulted! LOL!

(and thanks to Sue for helping me unhook it and the other Sue for detaching it before handing me my leash at the end - whew!)

diane

Sharon Nelson

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2013, 09:51:20 PM »
Glad to see this addressed.

And hoping that by accidentally hooking my bracelet on my dog's leash before it was removed....thus delaying our start, while said dog sat ever so politely and unmoving...wouldn't be faulted! LOL!

(and thanks to Sue for helping me unhook it and the other Sue for detaching it before handing me my leash at the end - whew!)

diane

Nope you wouldn't have been faulted!  And it was a great demonstration of a dog under control while you were accidentally "attached" to the dog's leash by your bracelet!  Awesome example of control at the start!

Sharon
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Chelle

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 07:50:56 AM »
I too am happy to see this addresses as I have witnessed many near crashes at the start line or near the first obstacle. It will also hopefully curtail the frantic leash flinging at the leash runner...Thank you Sharon
Chelle Schumann

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 09:48:51 AM »
I am curious as to how this rule applies to competitors with small dogs, who carry their dog into the ring and remove the leash while the dog is being carried.  They then proceed to place the dog on the ground and “GO”.  That in my view does not demonstrate any type of control at the start line.  I know it is done for motivation, but…..
Brenda

Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 12:57:51 PM »
I am one that does NOT do a sit/stay with one of my dogs at the start line.  It is simply too stressful for her.  In order for me to get a good run out of her, I am playing with her, engaging her and getting her excited before we start the run.  It is NOT for lack of control.  I could put her in a sit/stay and walk fully across the arena and she would sit there, but would she then run the course with fun and a smile on her face?  Absolutely not.  It is VERY stressful for her to sit there like that.  Oh she would do the course, but she would be tentative and looking around the entire time.  She would absolutely NOT enjoy herself.  She is a very nervous dog and it simply doesn't work for her so I have adjusted my training and our runs to do what is good for her.   And please don't say this is a training issue with her.  It is in fact just her nature.  I used to do a sit/stay with her at the start line and a stop at the bottom of all contacts.  It was so demotivating that I actually contemplated retiring her at age 4.  Now that I have stopped forcing her she into a situation that she is uncomfortable with, she has blossomed into an great agility dog (she has always been a great dog!)

I can easily enough get the leash off of her and fling it behind me, but does it hit the ground before she crosses the start line?  I wouldn't know, I guess it would depend on how far I throw it to get it out of our way.  It would definitely be on the ground if I simply dropped it, but then I might trip on it myself.  As far as the leash runner getting hit, IMHO, they shouldn't be that close to the dog at the start of the run to get hit by the leash.  Leashes can't travel that far when thrown as they are not that heavy.

As far as carrying a small dog into the ring handing off the leash and putting the dog down, is this really any different than someone who has to call the dog back to them and catch them in order to get a leash on the dog? 

Are they also going to start faulting those runs where the handler cannot get the leash back on the dog after the run? I seem to witness more issues with a dog not returning to his owner to get a leash on then issues with the leash tripping up the dog or the handler.

This is such a subjective area that it seems it would be a difficult call....

Audri, Lily, Cee Cee and Toto, Calypso

Lin Battaglia

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SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2013, 03:18:53 PM »
Thank you Sharon. We've seen this grow dangerous and it's time to make a change. Teams working safely together with a solid start line stay are beautiful to watch.

LinB

Amy McGovern

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2013, 06:05:10 PM »
This is a question, not criticism.  But I need to understand because I am another one without a start line stay because of dog motivation issues.  While she can do it, she shuts down (and this is the girl who runs super fast and fun otherwise!).  Why do I need to force it?  She is also a little dog.  So I walk in carrying her and we drop (gently!) and run.  Is that going to be faulted?  While I agree one needs control on the start line, I'm concerned if we all have to do stays.

-Amy and the schnauzer pack
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Lin Battaglia

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SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2013, 07:50:20 PM »
If I'm understanding this correctly, what Sharon is talking about are the dogs that pull out of their leashes, away from their handlers and take off before the leashes hit the ground or before they are actually released.?

Wild Terriers

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SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2013, 09:16:50 PM »
I also have noticed a big increase in the frantic start - I wouldn't think this rule would effect people who drop and run - that is a whole lot different than the competitor who is clinging to the dog with one hand while taking the leash off with the other hand - I may be wrong, but it doesn't seem to me that this will be a terribly subjective rule - the times I am thinking of - it's pretty obvious that there is concern that if the physical restriction of the leash is removed that there is no confidence that there will be any control - for example the ones who take off the leash but immediately grab the scruff of the neck.  It doesn't seem to me that this rule is trying to take any of the various ways we choose to start a course - with or without a lead out,wait, stay, or GO away from us, but just to prevent some of the more frantic panicked starts. . .   Just what it seems to me.

Karen
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Arlene Courtney

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SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2013, 10:34:30 PM »
The situation that is being addressed is the case where a dog bolts as the handler is trying to remove a leash.  The leash typically gets jerked out of the handler's hand and can wrap around the dog's legs or other body parts or tangle around the handler's legs causing tripping.   I have seen dogs dragging leashes over and through equipment which is a serious accident just waiting to happen.  I have also seen handlers almost hog tied by the leash around their legs while the dog is frantically racing down the course often in a totally reckless manner.  In no way is this going to interfere with anyone who "drops" and runs as long as you place the dog on the ground and don't truly drop or propel the dog forward (this has never been allowed).  Dogs don't have to have a start line, but they should be under control from the time they enter the ring until they leave the ring which means the handler should be able to get the leash off  without the dog bolting onto the course.  You can certainly motivate your dog at the start line, but the dog should still be under control.

Just my $.02 for what it is worth.

Arlene
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Ben Philibert

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2013, 05:36:13 AM »
A couple of quick comments....

Audri; Dogs are already faulted for being out of control at the end of the run.  Handlers who's dogs run out of the ring at the end or who can't be quickly and safely leashed up already may be faulted.

Amy; This is not forcing a 'stay' at the start line this is enforcing a safe start line.  What you are describing does not sound to me like a problem, the dogs that would be faulted for this will probably be very obvious.

And everyone, yes, this is a subjective call.....  there is never going to be a way to remove all subjective calls from agility no matter how many rules you try to write down (and believe me other venues have tried to write a rule for every single situation they feel will ever happen).  There will always be situations that require the judge to think, make a decision based on their experience and familiarity with the rules and make a call......  And believe it or not, we are human and we may even make a bad call or miss a call........

Let's all remember, as much as we love this sport, it is still just agility.  Nobody is going to die if a bad call is made, no one is going to be blown up it a bad call is made......   Life is WAY too short, let's all just enjoy it.....

Ben Philibert from just south of Boston.....


Ben Philibert

Kyle

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2013, 07:19:50 AM »
Reading Sharon's post carefully, she is actually saying two things, not just one.

The first is that the leash has to have hit the ground before the dog crosses the start line. That's easy to handle if you "drop and run" - as you carry your dog towards the line, remove the lead and drop it on the ground right behind you one second before you "drop" the dog. If you drop it right behind you, you probably shouldn't trip on it (unless you take a step *backward*, and why would you?) and the leash runner won't be hit by your thrown leash. Gravity should probably handle the part about the leash hitting the ground before the dog crosses the start line unless you haven't judged how closely you put the dog to the start line to begin with. Same thing with the bigger dogs - if the leash needs more time to hit the ground before the dog crosses the start line, just set your dog back from the line an extra 1-2 feet and just drop the leash right behind or off to the side. If you toss, throw or try and hard ball the leash to the leash runner, it's going to require more time to fall....

The second thing Sharon mentions is a safety issue - a dog being out of control during the removal of the leash. We've all seen dogs who have been leaping up and down, lunging forward and backward just trying to *go*, with their handlers struggling (forever) to remove the leash - that's just plain unsafe and doesn't make the sport look good to spectators and visitors.

That's just how I see it - two different issues that needed a solution. I'm sure there's a million ways each of us can think of to solve individuals' problems with the new explanation's requirements.

-Kyle
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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2013, 09:59:52 AM »


The second thing Sharon mentions is a safety issue - a dog being out of control during the removal of the leash. We've all seen dogs who have been leaping up and down, lunging forward and backward just trying to *go*, with their handlers struggling (forever) to remove the leash - that's just plain unsafe and doesn't make the sport look good to spectators and visitors.

That's just how I see it - two different issues that needed a solution. I'm sure there's a million ways each of us can think of to solve individuals' problems with the new explanation's requirements.

-Kyle
[/quote]

My dog is jumping up and down (usually 2-3 feet in the air) and possibly barking in excitement at the start line because I am getting working to get her excited.  At 35 lbs she is not small enough to do a drop and run.  She also does rolls and various other contortions all in fun.  Again, she is a VERY NERVOUS dog so I do whatever I can to get her excited and take the stress out of the start of the course.  I have a new leash that has a different clip that makes getting it off easy, but I also have other leashes that I use.  As far as setting the dog back further, that doesn't always work based on how the course is set up.  I try to set her up back at least 3-4 feet so I have a good running start with her, but in some of the smaller venues that I compete in, it is not always possible or you are actually out of the ring itself.   

Simply dropping the leash on the ground with a dog that is a "release and run" is not the answer either because it could easily tangle in the feet of the handler or the dog.  With a motivationally challenged dog there is no time to nicely put the leash on the ground to the side.  My other option would be, get her excited,  take the leash off, put it on the ground then take some additional time to work to keep her excited.   This would take no more time than someone putting their dog in a sit/stay and then walking out to their position.  I am just taking my time back at the start line instead of walking out. 
Audri, Lily, Cee Cee and Toto, Calypso

TheQuestKnight

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Re: SPECIAL note to all judges and competitors
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2013, 11:33:03 AM »
My wife and I both currently run and have run dogs that have NO start line stay (all BCs); but they are pretty good about waiting to leave us in their dust until their leash is fully off and on the ground.

That said, there have been times with all 4 dogs when they bolted prematurely and got themselves, us or all parties concerned, tangled up . . . and we SHOULD HAVE BEEN FAULTED or 'E'd ; but we were not for whatever reason.

We trial VERY infrequently now due to our dogs' ages and the lack of reasonably close trials; but we work on impulse control DAILY in a variety of situations here at home and with agility equipment here at home . . . and our dogs behave quite well.  However, that doesn't translate all that well when they are on an adrenaline rush at a trial.

Our biggest concern is NOT whether we get faulted or eliminated, our biggest concern is the PUBLIC'S perception of how our "trained" dogs are behaving.  John & Joan Q. Public don't see the score sheets and don't understand the judge's signals, so there is a very real chance that they walk away with the impression that NADAC is tolerant of such behaviors, which is NOT true!!!

I do not believe that this is a new policy in any way; but I do believe that it is a policy that has, over time, lost it's "teeth" in eforcement.  Fact of the matter is that I wish that this policy had been STRICTLY enforced back when we were all getting tangled up . . . a specific fault or 'E' at that time would have made us take notice . . . and we would have devoted as much or more time and training into start, as well as finish, line behaviors as we did with all of the obstacle and path stuff . . .

Al & Barb Ceranko, Dred, Gael & Pelli in OH . . . Flurry & Kali, probably still getting tangled up at The Bridge 
Castle Camelot: Al, Barb, Dred, Gael & Pellinore . . . and from The Bridge Grill & Pub,  Kali, Flurry, Promise, Chico, Romulus, Trix and Tony.