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The Overview from USDAA
USDAA Message
By Kenneth Tatsch

USDAA PresidentEarly next month, we will be taking to the air to compete in the IFCS World Agility Championships in The Netherlands on May 8-11. The Federatie Hondensport Nederland has been working hard to make the event the best it can be. There is no doubt that the international scene has gotten more competitive over the past several years, with the Russian team dominating the IFCS event in 2010 and at the IFCS Agility Championships of Europe in 2013. I’m sure that the standard in other countries continues to improve as well. Adding to the excitement, there will be almost double the entry from 2012 in both number of countries and competitors.

There is no question we would like to to regain the lead in the medal count for the United States. Whatever the result on the arena floor, success should not be defined just by the medal count, but by knowing that we have done our best. I know each of our team members have worked hard to get to the top of their game, and I have no doubt that they will represent us well.

The event will be webcast live on While the Championships will kick off each day as many in the U.S. are heading off to bed (or are already sleeping), those who subscribe to the stream will be able to watch a captured version following the event. If you can, log on and cheer the team on to victory.

Also coming in May, we are pleased to announce that Annie DeChance will be joining the USDAA team as Director of Public Relations and Communications. Communications is a major challenge of any organization. With continuing growth, it is important that we place more emphasis on our relationships and clarity in communications. Annie brings a wealth of experience in communications, public relations, and social media, and will be principally tasked with overseeing and coordinating those efforts for USDAA.

Annie DeChance and her dogs (from left to right) Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Spencer Davis, and Stella.

Annie has been a long-time employee with the cities of Scottsdale and Phoenix in media and public relations. She is an avid dog agility enthusiast and active competitor. She has provided public relations and media support for the Cynosport® World Games since the event moved to Scottsdale in 2004, and continued this effort as the event moved to Kentucky, Colorado, and Tennessee. Over the past year, she has produced the Judge's Call series of videos posted to USDAA’s YouTube channel.

Join with me in welcoming Annie to the USDAA team in May. Feel free to reach out to her at anytime about how we can better serve each of you.

Training Corner: Dot and Dash
By Deborah Davidson Harpur

These exercises are designed to teach handling of straight tunnels and tunnel exits, focusing on letting the dog know which way to exit coming out of each tunnel. There are hundreds of ways to run each numbered course and there are multiple ways to handle each one to get the best results.

My training group started off with a super smooth "intro" course (white circles). It is just 12 obstacles, basically a big zig zag where the dogs could fly. We also ended with this course after doing three other patterns on the same set up.

The dark circles (#1-#14) changed up the pattern and included some harder handling challenges. From #3-#4, at which end of the tunnel are you crossing? Please keep in mind that your safety and the safety of your dog is paramount. Yes, challenge yourself to move a little quicker, but do not get yourself taken out by your dog at the end of a tunnel crossing (like at black circles #3-#4).

The next course we did was the white squares #1-#19. The backsides of the jumps are introduced right away (at #2) along with some figure-8-type of work (#6-#7), with backsides scattered throughout. Yep, we are getting ready for those Master Challenge classes!

Last (not counting the final intro run) were the dark squares. This course has a tricky start, from the front side of #1, to a tunnel, to the backside of a jump that is straight in front of you. Whoooa Nellie! I was reminded why I am working on improving my stamina and fitness level! That section of the course (right at the start) put me off a bit. I had to work on it to make sure I wasn't stressing out and playing catch-up the entire time.

The "dark square course" was so challenging that I ended up breaking that course down into sections and working on that for a day or so. Then I went back to it when my mind wasn't remembering all the previous courses. You might find that works best for you too!

Click here to read more of this article.

Can Dogs Learn from Eavesdropping?
By Claudia Bensimoun

Researchers have been investigating whether animals can eavesdrop (listen in on third-party interactions) for a while now, and evidence of potential eavesdropping has been identified in canines and other mammals, fish, and birds. Eavesdropping between dogs is the acquisition of information from third-party interactions. This allows animals to acquire valuable information by observing or interacting with other organisms.

Researchers found that dogs are an interesting species to study regarding eavesdropping because they have been through a domestication process that is estimated to have lasted at least 15,000 years. Domestication is presumed to have encouraged dogs to have evolved adaptations to human environments. Researchers also believe that the socio-cognitive abilities of dogs, most especially dogs that are involved in "reading" human communicative cues (like service dogs), was the result of the domestication process.

In this study, dogs' eavesdropping abilities were tested. In the first experiment, dogs were able to choose between cooperative demonstrators who were the "donors" (the people who had food) and who always gave food to an approaching third party, the "beggar." The researchers observed each dog's reactions when the beggar either gave positive or negative reactions, via hand gestures or verbal cues. The results in this study demonstrated that dogs approached the donor that had received the most positive reactions from the beggar.

Two more studies were done to see whether dogs' choices were driven by local enhancement. When either of the donors changed places before the choice, dogs chose at random. Nonetheless, in a nonsocial situation, in which donors had been replaced by platforms, the dogs chose at chance levels.

It was found that dogs' nonrandom choices relied on the simultaneous presence of many cues, such as where the subjects stood and several attributes that contributed to the beggar's behavior like gestural, verbal, and eating behaviors. Dogs needed both the gestural and verbal cues in order to reliably choose the positive donor. The study also suggests that if only gestural and verbal cues had been used without any food, there would not have been any effect on the dogs' behavior, thus taking into account that a dogs' degree of sociability and level of motivation for food were important motivators. The researchers concluded that dogs have the capacity to recognize subtle human expressions, which may indicate other people's disposition to share valuable resources such as food, in this case by using multiple cues.

This study indicates that dogs may be able to learn by watching other dogs and people, assuming that the dogs see food being used as a reward.

To read more about this study and see links to references, click here.

2014 IFCS World Agility Championships Team USA Practice
By Rachel Sanders

The 2014 IFCS World Agility Championships Team USA had their first team practice on Monday, March 31st. The team is made up of 12" team members Andy Mueller and Crackers, Daneen Fox and Masher, Ivette White and Zip, Monique Plinck and Tiki, Linda Womer and Sonic, Mike Padgett and Kona (Alternate); 16" team members Stacy Bols and Krusher, Maureen Waldron and Michael, Jenn Crank and Kaboo, Jennifer Thomas and Rodeo, and Giuliana Lund and Zuri; 22" team members Mary Ellen Barry and Maizy, Paulena-Renee Simpson and Graphite, Jeannette Hutchison and Rumble, Kate Moureaux and Smart, and Stacy Peardot-Goudy and Sobe; and 26" team members Lori Michaels and Solei, Desiree Snelleman and Pace, Terry Smorch and Presto, Ashley Anderson and Psi, Jenn Crank and Sonic, and Jamie Herren and Zip (Alternate).

Many thanks to Beverly Melcher, owner of Orchard Hills Training Center in Barto, Pennsylvania, for donating the use her fantastic training facility for the day. Also, thanks to Mary Ellen Barry and Kinetic Dog for buying us all lunch and a special thank you to Susan Crank, Kathy Morgan, Debbie West, and Garison Miseje, who helped out with course building and general ring help.

This year, the practice was not mandatory, but over half the team was able to come and participate. Some of them unfortunately aren't pictured, but we were happy they were there!

The team poses together. Back row: Monique Plinck, Mary Ellen Barry, Jeannette Hutchison, Jennifer Thomas, Linda Womer, Kathy Morgan, Maureen Waldron, Orchard Hills Training Center owner Beverly Melcher, and coach Rachel Sanders. Front row: Kate Moureaux, Jenn Crank, Jamie Herren, and Ashley Anderson. Photo courtesy of Rachel Sanders.

The team worked on a few gambles and ran Jumpers and Standard courses from this year's IFCS judges. It was a super opportunity for all of us to get to know each other a little better. It also gave me the chance to watch everyone's handling styles and handling choices in a relaxed environment prior to heading out to the Netherlands.

To see some of the practice courses used and more photos, click here.

Social Media Update

If you favor Facebook, tend toward twitter, or yearn for Yahoo! Groups, USDAA has a social media outlet for you! Find us on Faceook at and like our page. We share news, have fun contests, share photos, and chat! We've started some fun theme days on facebook as well, so check out Training Tuesday, Talking Point Thursday, and Flashback Friday. For updates and info, follow us on twitter. We're @USDAAEvents. And join the USDAA Sounding Board to get updates and chat with other competitors about USDAA topics via email. Visit for more information. See you on social media!

Upcoming Events Calendar

Watch out for these events with entries closing in the coming weeks:
Dates Host Group Location Closing Date
05/03-05/04/2014 Ace Agility Club Greenfield, MA 04/14
05/02-05/04/2014 Run Spot Jump Canton, GA 04/14
04/26-04/27/2014 Think Pawsitive LLC New Berlin, WI 04/14
04/25-04/27/2014 Dog Agility Racing Team (DART) Moorpark, CA 04/14
04/26-04/27/2014 On The Run Canine Center Ham Lake, MN 04/14
05/02-05/04/2014 Sky Blue Events Indianapolis, IN 04/16
04/25-04/27/2014 Happy Dog Ranch Murfreesboro, TN 04/18
04/26-04/27/2014 Four Seasons K9 Athlete Center, LLC Washingtonville, OH 04/18
05/02-05/04/2014 Costa Rica Agility Team Alajuela, A 04/19
05/09-05/11/2014 Touch & Go Agility Club Frederick, MD 04/20
05/10-05/11/2014 ARFF Agility Club, Inc. Westborough, MA 04/20
05/09-05/11/2014 Canine Combustion Dog Agility Club Canton, MI 04/20
05/02-05/04/2014 Over Rover Training Center Cato, NY 04/21
05/03-05/04/2014 4 PAWS Agility Holly Springs, MS 04/21
05/02-05/04/2014 MAD CO, LLC Crozet, VA 04/21
05/02-05/04/2014 Nunes Agility Field Turlock, CA 04/23
05/02-05/04/2014 Front Range Agility Team Lakewood, CO 04/23
05/03-05/04/2014 Agility Workout Society of Mid-Michigan Auburn Hills, MI 04/23
05/03-05/04/2014 Smart Dog Atizapan de Zaragoza, MEX 04/25
05/03-05/04/2014 DASH K9 Sports Geneva, IL 04/25
05/02-05/04/2014 HOT Dog Sports, LLC Belton, TX 04/25
05/09-05/11/2014 Boise Agility Runners & Climbers Caldwell, ID 04/25
05/10-05/11/2014 K-9 Sports, LLC Salem, OR 04/28
05/16-05/18/2014 Dallas Agility Working Group Ft. Worth, TX 04/29
05/17-05/18/2014 New England Agility Team Greenland, NH 04/30
05/17-05/18/2014 All Colorado Agility Team Pueblo, CO 04/30
05/16-05/18/2014 Virginia Ruff Riders, LLC Palmyra, PA 05/01
05/16-05/18/2014 Canine Agility of Central Minnesota St. Cloud, MN 05/02
05/16-05/17/2014 Low Country Dog Agility Charleston, SC 05/03
05/24-05/25/2014 Hog Dog Productions Millersville, MD 05/04
05/23-05/25/2014 Riverside Canine Center N. Smithfield, RI 05/05
05/22-05/25/2014 Redhot Rovers Auburn, WA 05/07
05/24-05/26/2014 Top Notch Canines LLC Phoenix, AZ 05/09
05/30-06/01/2014 Minnesota Agility Club Lake Elmo, MN 05/11
05/30-06/01/2014 Contact Agility Club Hamden, CT 05/11
05/31-06/01/2014 All Dog Adventures Richmond, VA 05/12
05/31-06/01/2014 Flexible Flyers Agility Group Barto, PA 05/12
05/24-05/26/2014 Dallas Dog Sports McKinney, TX 05/12
05/24-05/25/2014 PDC Barrie, ON 05/14
05/24-05/26/2014 Think Pawsitive LLC New Berlin, WI 05/14
05/24-05/26/2014 Happy Dog Agility Moorpark, CA 05/14

Questions? Mail - USDAA, PO Box 850955, Richardson, TX 75085; Call - (972) 487 - 2200; Email -

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