Dog Agility

Run Clean... Run Fast... Have Fun!

 

Get Over It...

Under it, around it and through it! Agility is a teamwork sport where the dog and handler navigate a course with a variety of obstacles, under various conditions to race for their own best time while performing the obstacles safely and accurately. It requires conditioning, concentration, strategy and focus... plus the ability to think on your feet!

English Setter Mutley jumping thru a tireWe're addicted… it started out very innocently. In 1994, my sister-in-law Vicky took Pat to the Grand Opening of a pet store in the Chicago area. Her dog club was doing a dog agility demo. The idea was to show how any dog could do agility and would enjoy it. They used our English Setter, Mutley in their demo. Mutley did enjoy it and so did Pat. He came home very enthusiastic and started training agility with Mutley. It looked like fun, so I also gave it a try. Once we were both hooked, Pat handed Mutley over to me and adopted his own agility partner, Doberman Pinscher named Raven. She had a tragic accident and unfortunately died, way too young. But "when one door closes..." with a grieving but open heart, we found our extraordinary Doberman, Second Chance Diamond "Dax". Mutley and Dax boldly took us where we'd never been before (geeky Star Trek reference)...

* Mutley Photo courtesy: Tien Tran

Dax coming out of the Weave PolesAgility is my favorite canine sport, it is so much fun! The most common misconception about agility is that it’s all about the obstacles. Wrong! In reality the obstacles take the shortest amount of time and are easiest to teach. It takes a dog/handler team their entire career to fine tune their communication and develop the kind of partnership required to become a truly great team! What happens between the obstacles is the most challenging, dynamic part of the sport. The courses change each time and the handler only gets 10 minutes to walk and strategize a successful plan for any course. What an adrenaline rush! Then if things don't go as planned, you need to improvise and quickly think on your feet while running the course!

There are many different venue choices that offer a diversity of challenges, height categories, classes, levels and some even offer unique obstacles. All the venues have their own strengths and weaknesses so it comes down to personal enjoyment!

* Dax Photo courtesy: Tien Tran

We mostly do AKC agility. Before Entles were allowed in AKC, I did a lot of NADAC, ASCA and some USDAA. Over time AKC agility became our personal preference because it's much more convenient, less expensive, and offers the best mix of rules, courses, games and challenges. In our area, AKC trials are offered almost every weekend within a 2 hour drive, many being in our own "backyard" at Camp Bandy or the Oshkosh Kennel Club.


Entlebuchers and Agility

Bayla flying over the A-Frame

Entles are capable of being an awesome, competitive agility breed! They are not built physically as ideal for the sport as a slightly more square, lighter breed is... but they are still a strong, fun, competitive, above average choice! Ours and other Entles consistently earn placements when qualifying even at the highest levels. Kai and Data clock in on average at close to or over 6 YPS in Jumpers and just as respectable in Standard. Kai placed 3rd at the 2016 AKC Invitationals.

The Entlebucher weight to height ratio does place them toward the upper-end of the mesomorphic (middle/moderate) body type. They do not have endomorphic (heavyset) body frames, like their larger Swiss cousins the Greater Swiss and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Since "form follows function", the Entle's historic drover herding qualities clearly call for stamina, agility and balance over extremes or exaggeration of proporton- especially in the amount of bone &/or weight. Bigger is not better!

* Bayla Photo Credit: Great Dane Photos

Weight to Height Body Ratios

The book, Jumping from A to Z by Christine Zink & Julie Daniels cites that; "The heavier a dog is in relation to his height, the more effort will be required during locomotion, and the more stress there will be on the musculoskeletal system". The book cites through research and observation, "dogs with a weight:height ratio of less than 2.5 will generally enjoy the longest, healthiest jumping careers. Dogs with a weight:height ratio of 2.5 to 4 can expect average or better jumping careers with a proper conditioning program. And dogs with a weight:height ratio of over 4 are in the danger zone for jumping, they should be trained with great care & jump at full height only under the best conditions". Weight:Height ratios are a structural factor that influences any dog's athleticism & abilities.

Bayla agility jump
Fun with math -illustration examples:

A female Berner could be 24" tall and weigh 86 lbs. (86 divided by 24 = 3.5)

Our female Entle Kai is 17.5" tall and weighs 46 lbs (46 divided by 17.5 = 2.6)

A tall male Berner by their standard, at 27" could weigh upwards of 110 lbs (110 divided by 27 = 4.05)

A tall male Entle by our standard, at 20.5" should not weigh more than 70 lbs (70 divided by 20.5 = 3.4)

A dog with more bone can support a little more weight in general, but there comes a point where the dog's structure will pay the price. If you do agility or any dog sports, work with a breeder that understands the needs and physical demands of the sport. If you do agility with an Entlebucher it is extremely important to keep your Entle in lean, muscular condition to prevent injuries and minimize the wear and tear on their body. Continue to educate yourself about structure, health, and fitness. Read, learn and develop a solid conditioning program for your Entle so they can perform better and stay healthier throughout their career and life. We have found the FitPaws products and educational resources invaluable in helping us develop and maintain our Entle's core strength, minimize their weaknesses and maximize their strengths. For more articles, illustrations and books on this subject refer to my links below.

Entlebucher Data weavingThe Entlebucher height standard puts them in the AKC 16" or 20" regular division. Bayla was a taller female and just over the 18" cutoff; she measured into the 20" division. Kai is under the cutoff and jumps 16", I'm sure Jaylah will too. Bayla was always very athletic but at a disadvantage jumping upward. Kai has a big advantage standing taller at the withers than her jump height. Data measures into the competitive 20" height division and he is almost level with his jump height. There have been great advances in jump training methods and we are more experienced, knowledgeable and proactive when it comes to health, fitness, and conditioning!

Competitive jump heights are not more important than overall sound structure, solid temperament and good health but it is something to consider when looking for an agility Entlebucher. Most males will end up jumping 20" regular or 16" preferred but many females will measure into the 16" regular height division (12" preferred)... it's a definite advantage!

* Data Photo Credit: Great Dane Photos
 

Favorite Agility Links

Clean Run Agility Magazine Premiere resource for agility fanatics
Say Yes! Dog Training Susan Garrett website
LoLaBuLand Experience Silvia Trkman website
Canine Sports Productions Christine Zink website
Jumping Series Excellent 4 Part article series by Suzanne Clothier
Googility Search Engine dedicated to all things dog agility related
FitPaws USA Canine fitness, rehab, and performance products and services
Dogwise.com Vast resource of books on agility and dog training
J & J Dog Supplies Vast resources; supplies for many sports
Agility Nerd Fun, informative blog site with courses and videos
Crash Test Toys Great motivational training toys
The Liver Lady 4 Paws Up! Our K9's recommend enthusiastically
Agility University Innovative online classes and resources

Venues

AKC Agility- American Kennel Club agility information
NADAC Agility- North American Dog Agility Council
USDAA Agility- United States Dog Agility Association

Data agility jump Kai agility jump
* Data Photo Credit: Cathi Winkles
* Kai Photo Credit: Jessica Vanden Langenberg


•  These links are not meant to be subject complete. They are all companies, businesses or resources that I use/enjoy and proudly share.

 

 

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