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USDAA Message
By Kenneth Tatsch

USDAA President

The 2014 Cynosport World Games in Morgan Hill, California, is rapidly approaching. The Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center is a beautiful location for the event, with a great artificial turf field to hold six competition rings and ample natural turf for kenneling or other activities. Historically, weather is about as good as it gets, with clear skies and daytime temperatures in the low to mid-seventies. If you haven't checked out the site, please visit and view the Location link.

Special activities this year include the competitor dinner at the local Guglielmo Wineries, with brief tours and social hour, opportunity for winetasting, and a catered dinner. Other activities include the familiar SplashDogs dock jumping, Lure for the Cure, and for the first time, World Cynosport Rally trials and Barn Hunt Association sanctioned trials, not to mention plenty of shopping opportunities.

Putting on such an event requires more than 100 volunteers, and we are always thankful to those who step up to assist with Cynosport. With an event this size, it is no wonder that it is a year-round planning project. We are always on the lookout for key volunteers who are creative and able to serve on the Organizing Committee and contribute to the planning of the event. If you have an interest in working on this committee, please contact Andy Hartman or myself at

We look forward to greeting everyone to the event, whether live and in person or on our webcast through If you are still contemplating whether you will make the trek to California, we encourage you to do so. USDAA's Cynosport® World Games hasn't been in the far west since 2001, so it is indeed a rare and, what we believe to be, great experience, for both competition and social opportunities. The test schedule for the event can be downloaded from the usdaa calendar of events or from under the "Competitor Information" link.

Watch the USDAA news page and social media for more information as the date approaches.

Event Report: BARK-NH's July Trial
By Lo Baker

What a fun weekend we had at BARK's USDAA trial July 18-20! Thank you to judge Janet Gauntt for amazing courses on which competitors could test their skills. Not only is Janet skillful at designing the best nested courses, her music playlist was greatly appreciated also!

Thanks to the best crew ever: Val Duff, Kathy Clement, Sandi Bixler, Chris Frado, Bruce Thibodeau, Sue Paterson, and Amanda Dionne. Thank you for making BARK's reputation for hosting fun trials a reality.

BARK would like to celebrate the following teams that achieved titles:

Chris Holm and Tuuli...Gamblers Champion Silver
Sue Ferguson and Zeeva...Snooker Champion Bronze
Claudia McGuire and Skye...Relay Master
Bruce Thibodeau and Jason...Relay Champion
Bruce and Lynn Thibodeau and Jason...Masters Performance Dog
Lynn Thibodeau and Kaleigh...Performance Snooker Champion Gold
Linda Kasperek and Major...Master Agility Dog
Tracy Bergeron and Seun...Starters Relay and Agility Dog
Cassy Lamothe and Kit...Performance Dog
Mary Steedly and June...Performance Snooker Champion Bronze
Zoey Trenkle and Snoopy...Starters Performance Jumper
Kimberly Smith and Sadie...Starters Snooker, Starters Jumper and Agility Dog

Congratulations! See you at the next BARK trial in the fall!

Read more.

Linda Morris and her Border Collie, Major, who earned their MAD title at the trial. Photo courtesy of Val Duff.

Training Corner: Gamblers Strategy and Practice
By Elizabeth Dott

This training exercise is all about Gamblers. Let's talk about different strategies and training ideas to help you become successful playing this fun game. Here's how to break down a Gamblers course.

Divide your Gamblers course.

Separate your opening section from your gamble while learning and training to play this game. Think about what your dog's strengths are. If your dog has a great dogwalk but slow weave poles, during the opening, spend your time on what will achieve maximum points for you and your dog. For instance, if the weave poles are 7 points and the tunnels are 3 and your dog has a slow weave pole performance, sometimes it takes much less time to quickly do two back-to-back tunnels for 6 points and add in another jump that will earn you the same amount of points in far less time then slowly doing a set of weaves. Use what your dog does well to your advantage.

Know how many obstacles your dog is capable of doing in your allotted opening time.

Count up how many obstacles your dog can do in a 30-second opening, and do the same for a 25-second opening. An easy way to do this is have a friend time you to see how many obstacles you can effectively do in your given opening time. Once you understand how many you can do, try to put a plan together that will put you very close to what obstacle you wish to end on before the buzzer goes off. This makes all the difference in the world in doing the gamble effectively so you do not feel rushed or have to race from the other side of the ring to get your dog into the first gamble obstacle.

Pick something that flows.

This can be tough sometimes on a Gamblers course, but it can be done. The more the plan you create flows, the better time you will make in the opening sequence and the more points you will achieve. Be sure to know exactly what obstacles you want to finish up your opening sequence on close to the time you think your buzzer will ring.  A big mistake people make (myself included) is they panic when they hear the buzzer and they will send their dogs into the gamble at a bad angle which makes the gamble harder to successfully complete. Be sure to line your dog up so he flows nicely into the gamble at the angle you want for maximum chance of achieving the end results you are looking for.

Know the judge's rules.

One cool thing about Gamblers is that judges can change the rules a bit and get creative with the game. Be sure you listen to the briefing and know all the rules the judge has set forth. For example, does the judge allow back-to-back contacts and/or consecutive contacts, is there a special bonus send, or is the 7-point obstacle a combination of several obstacles?

Once your plan is in place, then think about the gamble.

Check out this sample Gamblers course:

There are multiple gambles (or distance challenges) on this practice course. The tunnel/A-frame/three jump challenge can be done two ways and is numbered accordingly. There is also a bonus gamble for an extra 7 points available. If the handler sends her dog behind the dogwalk but stays on the "course side" rather than going with the dog, that team gets an extra 7 points.

When I trial, I look at the gamble first to see what and where it is so I can build a plan around it. In training, you can work your gamble in sections. In this course, I began at the A-frame and targeted my dog out to his toy after the first jump after the A-frame. When he understood how to do that, I put him on the end of the A-frame and targeted the next two jumps after the A-frame. When he understood that, I added my toy after the third jump and targeted my dog using all three jumps. After that, I put the whole gamble together.

Once you have worked everything in parts, run the whole Gamblers course. Be sure to have a friend time you so you get a realistic picture on how this gamble would go at an actual trial.

Read more and see video instruction on this course.
The West Valley Dog Sports Celebrates 25 Years
By Annie Dechance

On July 12-13, West Valley Dog Sports celebrated their 25th anniversary of holding USDAA events! The weather was perfect for the celebration in Camarillo, California, and nearly 180 dogs participated in the festivities.

Two of the group's original members, Kathy Lofthouse and Clydine Crowder, are still competing and attended the event. Two other original members, Karen Moureaux and Sharon Kihara, are still involved in dog agility but were unable to attend this year.

During the general briefing, before competition started, an announcement was made congratulating West Valley on their accomplishment. An anniversary cake arrived just in time for an afternoon sugar fix, along with a surprise for competitors.

The cake was delicious and pretty!

After Round 1 of the Steeplechase qualifier was complete, competitors gathered around the hospitality tent to see USDAA President Kenneth Tatsch cut the cake. He displayed some of the original paperwork from West Valley's first trial.

Paperwork from the first West Valley trial, including the handwritten course, accumulator score sheet, competitor list, and more.

Tatsch provided some interesting statistics:

  • Only three jump heights were offered: 12", 21" and 30"
  • All three jump heights competed against each other
  • Only a Grand Prix course was offered and it consisted of two rounds; competitors needed 20 faults or less to qualify
  • The course had 12 obstacles, was 125 yards long and the standard course time was 60 seconds; both courses were something less than a figure of "8"
  • The winning score was 12.60 faults
  • 19 different breeds competed; the three most popular breeds were Rottweilers, English Springer Spaniels and Shetland Sheepdogs
  • No Border Collies were entered
  • The results from the first trial were first place, Sandy Moore and Graf (30"); second place, Scott Brown and Magik (21"); and third place, Carol Roe and Rainie (21")

There were other celebrations during the event as well. On Saturday, two competitors earned their ADCH titles: Eileen Hawthorn with Dazzle and Evy Criswell with Drew. What a great way to help celebrate a silver anniversary!

Congratulations again to West Valley Dog Sports! We look forward to celebrating more milestone anniversaries with you and other "pioneers of agility" who help shape our great sport.

Read more about this event.

Canine Agility: Is There a Strong Correlation Between Paw Preference and Agility?
By Claudia Bensimoun

How can you tell if your dog is going to be talented in agility? Scientists at the University of Bari in Italy are suggesting that you just may try asking your canine companion for his paw. A dog's paw preference has been linked with his learning ability, focus and performance during agility trials.

In the past, it has been demonstrated that human brain function lateralization exists. Until a few years ago, it was believed that right/left brain lateralization only could be found in human brains, but studies have shown this to be untrue.

In right brain/left brain theory, a dog’s left visual field would stimulate the right brain hemisphere and the dog’s right visual field would stimulate the left brain hemisphere. This new study resulted in many interesting discoveries of exactly how the canine brain works.

In this study by Dr. Marcello Siniscalchi, 19 dogs participated in several tests with their trainers. The dogs were rewarded with food treats, and also took part in a few agility tests. They used A-frames, jumps, and colored weave poles during testing. The dog’s trainers were given research questionnaires to fill out in which they had to answer questions about the dog’s temperament or personality traits. The results demonstrated that there was a strong correlation between paw preference (preferring using one paw rather than using both paws equally) and agility.

Stacy Bols and Krusher. Photo courtesy of Melissa Sheehan, True Colors Photography

Dogs with stronger paw preferences showed a greater inclination for agility training. They were more focused on their training, less distracted, and had better agility skills. In addition, when the trainers gave the dogs food and information from their left side while training, the dogs seemed more distracted, emotional, and most of their agility and training performances were not as good as when directed from the right side. "The most relevant finding was that agility-trained dogs displayed longer latencies to complete the obstacles with the owner located in their left visual hemifield compared to the right. Interestingly, the results showed that this phenomenon was significantly linked to both dogs' trainability and the strength of paw preference," says Dr. Siniscalchi via Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition.

Read more.

Upcoming Events Calendar

Watch out for these events with entries closing in the coming weeks:
Dates Host Group Location Closing Date
08/22-08/24/2014 PDC Barrie, ON 08/13
08/29-08/31/2014 Branchwater Training Center Reisterstown, MD 08/13
08/23-08/23/2014 Raise the Bar Agility, LLC Ashland, VA 08/15
08/30-08/31/2014 ARFF Agility Club, Inc. Westford, MA 08/15
08/29-09/01/2014 The Bay Team Prunedale, CA 08/15
08/30-09/01/2014 Minnesota Agility Club Ham Lake, MN 08/17
08/30-09/01/2014 Southeastern Agility Gainesville, GA 08/17
08/29-08/31/2014 First Dog Sports Phoenix, AZ 08/18
08/30-09/01/2014 Puerto Rico Agility Team Bayamon, PR 08/21
09/05-09/07/2014 Carolina Piedmont Agility South Congaree, SC 08/22
09/06-09/07/2014 KineticDog, LLC Barto, PA 08/25
09/06-09/07/2014 Derby City Agility Club LaGrange, KY 08/25
09/12-09/14/2014 Riverside Canine Center N. Smithfield, RI 08/25
08/30-09/01/2014 Boone County Dog Sport Poplar Grove, IL 08/25
08/29-08/31/2014 All Dogs Can Agility Lapeer, MI 08/25
08/28-08/30/2015 All Dogs Can Agility Lapeer, MI 08/25
09/06-09/07/2014 Front Range Agility Club (FRAC) Longmont, CO 08/29
09/12-09/14/2014 Top Notch Canines LLC Phoenix, AZ 08/29
09/12-09/14/2014 Teamworks Dog Training, LLC Youngsville, NC 08/29
09/13-09/15/2014 Costa Rica Agility Team Alajuela, A 08/31
09/20-09/21/2014 Playing Agility With Style Greenfield, MA 09/02
09/12-09/14/2014 Over Rover Training Center Cato, NY 09/02
09/12-09/14/2014 Boise Agility Runners & Climbers Caldwell, ID 09/02
10/03-10/05/2014 Low Country Dog Agility Charleston, SC 09/02
09/13-09/14/2014 Flexible Flyers Agility Group Barto, PA 09/02
09/12-09/14/2014 Cream City Canines New Berlin, WI 09/03
09/13-09/14/2014 Front Range Agility Team Castle Rock, CO 09/03
09/20-09/21/2014 Two Rivers Agility Club of Sacramento Woodland, CA 09/05
09/05-09/05/2014 Canine Sports of Indiana Sellersburg, IN 09/05
09/19-09/21/2014 North Alabama Canine Cruisers Huntsville, AL 09/05
10/15-10/19/2014 United States Dog Agility Association, Inc. Morgan Hill, CA 09/05
09/20-09/21/2014 Mid-Atlantic MADness Finksburg, MD 09/06
10/03-10/05/2014 Contact Agility Club Hamden, CT 09/07
09/19-09/21/2014 Happy Hounds Agility Team Prosper, TX 09/08
09/27-09/28/2014 Stockade Agility Glenville, NY 09/09
09/20-09/21/2014 Happy Dog Agility Moorpark, CA 09/10
09/19-09/21/2014 Agility Workout Society of Mid-Michigan Lapeer, MI 09/10
09/20-09/21/2014 Happy Tails Agility Club Macedon, NY 09/10
09/27-09/28/2014 All Dogs Gym Agility Manchester, NH 09/12
09/26-09/28/2014 K9 Sports of Tennessee Franklin, TN 09/12
09/26-09/28/2014 Dog Gone Fun TX College Station, TX 09/12
09/26-09/28/2014 Redhot Rovers Auburn, WA 09/13
09/26-09/28/2014 Splash & Dash K9 Sports Latrobe, PA 09/15
09/27-09/28/2014 Canine Sports Zone Middleton, WI 09/15
09/25-09/25/2014 TNT Dog Center Midland, MI 09/18
10/03-10/05/2014 Top Notch Canines LLC Phoenix, AZ 09/19
10/03-10/05/2014 Travis Agility Group Belton, TX 09/19
10/04-10/05/2014 Artful Dodgers Agility Group Millersville, MD 09/20
10/03-10/05/2014 All Colorado Agility Team Fountain, CO 09/21
10/03-10/05/2014 Canine Combustion Dog Agility Club Canton, MI 09/22
10/04-10/05/2014 DrivenDogs Agility Somis, CA 09/22
10/04-10/05/2014 Columbia Agility Team Ridgefield, WA 09/22
10/04-10/05/2014 On The Run Canine Center Ham Lake, MN 09/22
10/11-10/12/2014 Just Jump It, LLC Reva, VA 09/22
10/03-10/05/2014 Casa de Canine of Greater Kansas City, LLC Independence, MO 09/22
10/03-10/05/2014 IncrediPAWS Zanesville, OH 09/22
10/10-10/12/2014 Keystone Agility Club Barto, PA 09/24
10/04-10/05/2014 Valley Agility Sports Team Turlock, CA 09/24

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

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