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The Overview from USDAA
USDAA Spotlight
By Kenneth Tatsch

USDAA PresidentNew provisions describing course design concepts have been added to the regulations for each of our tournaments in 2013. We had seen the concepts drifting over the past few years and even more recently, blurring at times; so our intent is to re-establish the "flavor" of the tournaments in their original concept as intended. Watch for courses that meet the following definitions in the coming year.

The Grand Prix was designed to present the best of the best meeting challenges seen in the masters titling class. Being a "Grand Prix" (as in racing), it should place more emphasis on speed than we might otherwise expect to see in titling. This is largely accomplished with the absence of the table, and keeping the flow moving, such that errors in mishandling and/or loss of responsiveness may occur when working with speed.

In the Grand Prix, the flow should generally be maintained such that the dog’s momentum would carry them into the approach side of the next obstacle in sequence, even if ever so slight. The most controlling maneuvers in Masters Challenge that provide flow disruption (i.e., managed back-side approaches and tightly controlled maneuvers resulting in some types of "zigzag" patterns) run counter to the Grand Prix concept and therefore should be excluded.

The Steeplechase was derived from the equestrian world and was designed as a spectator attraction featuring speed, along with the dynamics of the two most impressive obstacles—A-frame and weave poles—when working with speed. The design concept requires constant flow with dog running in full stride with a design that encourages speed, while testing the handler's response control to effect changes of direction while working full throttle. Control challenges that serve to detract from the speed element must be excluded.

The Team events were introduced in the early 1990s to introduce European design standards for a variety of class offerings, providing a test of all-around consistency and endurance through five distinctive classes that make up USDAA’s core titling program. (The current titling program for these classes was put in place in 1994.) The Team event was originally judged by individuals I had met in attending seminars in Great Britain, which drew judges from around the world. This brought us an almost "anything goes" approach in course designs, introducing varied course spacing and designs, along with control challenges that helped to balance the playing field between large and small dogs.

USDAA tournaments continue to be a major draw at most events. The variations in course types between the tournaments provide something for everyone in head-to-head competition. We hope these clarifications will help both handlers and judges enjoy the Tournament experience even more in 2013.
Event Report: BARK-NH's October Trial
By Lo Baker. Photos courtesy of Val Duff

A fun weekend was had by all at BARK's recent trial held in Manchester, New Hampshire, on October 12-14, 2012. Judge Tami McClung's courses were well received (thank you, Judge McClung!). She always seemed to find a place to really let the dogs open up. I heard from numerous competitors about how much they enjoyed her challenging and fun courses. Tami is giving Lynn Sigman a run for her money in the nesting courses department. Our chief course builder, Paula Recco, and the rest of the volunteer course builders were getting the courses built so fast, Tami barely got a break to eat her lunch!

Judge Tami McClung tested the competitors with her challenging courses.

Thanks so much to Val Duff, trial secretary extraordinaire. The score table was covered by Seth and Chris Dunn and Kathy Clement. Thank you all for getting out the score so fast and doing such a great job. Thanks to Chris Frado as the ring manager. She had a slightly difficult time filling some worker spots and offered up some of her own personal dark chocolates as an incentive! Thanks to Sue Paterson, Gail D’Avolio, and Val Duff for helping with the clean-up and loading and unloading the truck. It is always the few that stay behind to help with the grunt work. Can’t do it without all of you. Thank you! Thank you!

A special photo was taken for friend and competitor Sandi Bixler from Manchester, New Hampshire, who has been in the hospital in Bangor, Maine, for weeks. She suffered severe injuries after a bicycle accident while vacationing in Acadia National Park. She loved receiving the photo!

Get Well
Competitors posed to raise the spirits of injured competitor Sandi Bixler.

Thank you to all the volunteers at BARK this weekend. You help to make a fun, relaxing trial environment. I love hosting in one ring. Even though somehow I seem to miss seeing some of my students' runs!

Congratulations to the following teams that achieved titles this past weekend at BARK:
Raef and Noreen Scelzo Agility Dog Champion Platinum at 6 years young!
Jazz and Dave May Agility Dog Champion Bronze
Zer and Grace LaRouque Agility Dog Champion Bronze
Tee and Judy Davis Agility Dog Champion
Wik and Kathy Clement Relay Champion
Electra and Paula Miloglav Recco Performance Relay Master
Jade and Paula Miloglav Recco Performance Standard Champion
Pyro and Ann Leffler Performance Dog
Rik and Claudia McGuire Master Jumpers Gold
Kaleigh and Lynn Thibodeau Performance Standard Master and Performance Relay Champion
Chime and Paula Miloglav Recco Starters Performance Snooker
Maddie and Elizabeth Shell Advanced Performance Jumpers
Sophie and Lenore Giacalone Advanced Jumpers
Pearl and Dana Chenier Master Agility Dog
Zeeva and Sue Ferguson Advanced Pairs
Play and Val Duff Starters Jumpers
Striker and Seth Dunn Advanced Agility Dog

Agility Dog Champion Tee

Tami McClung with Judy Davis and new Agility Dog Champion Tee.

See you soon at our next trial! For more photos from this trial please click here.
Training Corner: Front Cross vs. Shoulder Turn
Shoulder TurnBy Tania Chadwick

Check out these 180° turns focused specifically on the shoulder turn versus the front cross. With the shoulder turn, you are turning in the same direction as your dog, exaggerating the movement of your shoulders at first to pull your dog in. Your dog will remain on the same side of you when you do a shoulder turn. For the front cross, you are turning in to your dog, pulling your dog in front of you so that he runs in front of your feet. With a front cross, your dog will start on one side of you and finish up on the other.

If you most often do front crosses (they are quite popular!), force yourself out of your comfort zone by giving the shoulder turn a chance. If your dog is turning wide off the jumps, reward him at the place you want him to be. And if you aren’t skilled in front crosses, start practicing now! They are great for tightening up turns too.

It’s important to have as many tools as possible in your agility handling tool box. It pays to learn how to comfortably do both types of crosses because you never know when one will come in handy.

The first figure shows what your dog’s path should look like (shown in black) while you are using a shoulder turn. If your dog has wide turns (see the path indicated in orange), try rewarding your dog in each spot that the red “R” appears.

At jumps #2 and #4, the handler in the diagram is doing a shoulder turn. At jump #3, the handler must first do a rear cross (crossing behind the dog as the dog is taking the jump) before executing the shoulder turn.

The second figure shows what your dog’s path should look like while you are doing the same sequence with front crosses. Notice that you don’t have to do a rear cross at jump #3 because the front cross at jump #2 puts you on the correct side to continue through #3 to #4. You’ll have to use a shoulder turn at #3 to move on to do a front cross on the landing side of #4 because you don’t need to change sides there.

To see more exercises to practice your turns, click here.
Personality Profile: Elicia Calhoun
By Deborah Davidson Harpur

Elicia Calhoun has been involved in dog agility since the early 1990s. She learned about the sport while on a quest to audition for a TV show featuring dogs. A very short time later, she was at her first competition and was on a quest to earn her first Grand Prix qualifying score. Later, agility would become her livelihood.

Elicia Calhoun
Elicia and Tobie on course at the 2011 Cynosport World Games. Photo courtesy of Contact Point Photography.

Elicia is a well-known competitor who has represented the USA for several different agility organizations. There is very seldom a year where one of her dogs has not made at least one of the final events at the Cynosport World Games, be it Grand Prix, Performance Grand Prix, Dog Agility Masters, or in the Veterans Showcase. She teaches seminars throughout the world and loves spending time with her dogs.

Besides her active agility life, which includes competing, writing books, and making agility videos, she is very active with several charities.

Despite some physical limitations, some of which she has had for years (including a steel rod in her spine) and some of which are more recent, she is known for giving it all on the agility field and for her positive outlook on life. It was a pleasure to learn more about Elicia and I hope you enjoy her insights and interview, which is exclusive to the USDAA website.

Deborah Davidson Harpur: How and when did you first become involved in the sport of dog agility?
Elicia Calhoun: It actually all began while I was in my senior year at Cornell University. Several of my roommates and I were watching a TV show called That’s My Dog and we joked about how after college I would get [my dog] Jettie and I on the TV show and they would join me so that I could win a year’s worth of dog food and we could get on TV. After I graduated in 1993, I was working in Houston, Texas, and I wrote to the TV show to find out if they were doing auditions. Although I missed the auditions, the coordinator for the Houston area told me about this sport called “dog agility” and that she was offering classes. After speaking with her on the phone, she encouraged Jettie and me to come to class to see what the TV show was based on with the idea being that if I practiced the skills in the sport of agility, I would be ready to go on the auditions. By the time I left that evening, we were hooked and we were doing obstacles like the A-frame and jumps. And basically two weeks later, I was assisting in classes and two months later I was driving from Texas to Florida to go to competitions. The rest is history!

You have several charitable organizations. Can you tell me a bit about them?
National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF) and the Suni Fund (,

The NCCF is a nationwide, contribution funded, non-profit corporation dedicated to finding improved diagnostic methods to detect cancer in dogs at an early stage, better treatment for dogs with cancer, and ultimately, a cure for canine cancer. The Suni Fund donations [named after Elicia’s well-known canine agility partner that died from cancer] go directly to the NCCF's Hemangiosarcoma research.

Anything else agility related you’d like to share?
The one message I’d like get people to really understand is that life is way too short not to live it fully! Agility is just one way of doing this, but it does exemplify so much of how we live our lives…. Dig deep and find the courage to put yourself out there and experience it! Cherish every moment and accept being human, for we are made to learn from our mistakes. Embrace the fact that we have our best friends to experience these learning curves, who love us in spite of us being human. So we aren’t doing this alone and we have nothing to fear.

I have created the following mantra through experience:

Run every run with conviction! You make the decisions, you make things happen! Run every run as if it were your last!

For more from this three-part interview, click here.
Body Slams and Touch-Free Cuddling
By Pamela S. Hogle

Not all dogs like to be petted. Certainly, not all dogs like to be petted the same way.

With that in mind, and being admittedly slower than our dogs on the uptake, I recently made a realization about an ongoing battle I have with our German Shepherd Wylie.Pretty Sunny It's likely, though, that only I see it as a battle; he might see it as a series of very small victories. Here’s the story.

Wylie can be pushy. He wants attention. He likes roughhousing and hard body contact. He body slams other dogs when he’s playing, he crashes into people and dogs, he steps on our feet…. Whenever I am petting Golden Retriever Jana, he comes over and pushes his nose, head, or entire body between my hand and Jana. I push him away. He comes back. I put up an arm to block him. He crashes into it. I order him to “Go settle… somewhere else.” But it doesn’t work. He keeps coming back.

I was musing about this ongoing conflict one evening recently and suddenly realized that Wylie is, in fact, getting exactly the kind of “petting” that he likes. Maybe not much of it, a few seconds at most, but he is getting what he wants. While I am sure he would prefer that I stop petting Jana and focus my full attention (and both hands) on him when he interrupts my “Jana time,” he might believe that some attention is better than no attention. When I do focus on him and pet him, I don’t massage him and use the gentle strokes Jana likes; I thump his side, and we roughhouse a bit. He likes that. So my shoving him back isn’t a correction, but more of a reward.

This realization ties nicely in with my strong belief that we (humans who live with dogs) should try to see things from the dog’s point of view sometimes and figure out what matters to the dog... more specifically, to each individual dog. When we understand a dog’s motivation, a lot more of that dog’s behavior makes sense.

Not only do our dogs deserve to be petted (or not petted) in the ways that feel good to them, each needs to be understood and appreciated for who he or she is. In doing so, we humans have a better chance of understanding our dogs’ behavior and perhaps avoiding or resolving conflicts.

Read more of this article here. The full article first appeared here and has been reprinted with permission.
Upcoming Events Calendar

Watch out for these events with entries closing this month:
Dates Host Group Event Location Type
11/24 Paws & Ques Williston, FL Match Only
11/30 -12/2 SureFire Dogs Training Center Westborough, MA Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
11/30 -12/2 All 4 Fun Agility Club Gray Summit, MO Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
11/30 -12/2 KineticDog Barto, PA Tournament Classes Only
12/1 - 12/2 Contact Zonies Tempe, AZ Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/1 - 12/2 Contact Sports Agility Reisterstown, MD Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/1 - 12/2 Low Country Dog Agility SC Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/1 - 12/2 4 PAWS Agility Holly Springs, MS Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/1- 12/2 DASH - Dog Agility Sports of Houston New Caney, TX Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/1 -12/2 Wasatch Agility Farmington, UT Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/6 Carolina Piedmont Agility Yadkinville, NC Tournament Classes Only
12/7 - 12/9 Pals & Paws Jacksonville, FL Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/8 - 12/9 The Bay Team Santa Rosa, CA Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/8 - 12/9 Contact Point Agility Club Fillmore, CA Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/8 - 12/9 Keystone Agility Club Barto, PA Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/8 - 12/9 Hill Country Agility Kerrville, TX Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/14 -12/16 Blue Ridge Agility Club Fletcher, NC Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/14/12 Branchwater Training Center Reisterstown, MD Intro Program Only
12/14 - 12/16 BARK-NH! Manchester, NH Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/15 - 12/16 Pawsitive Partners Dog Training Center Indianapolis, IN Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/16 Canine Academy Atascadero, CA Intro Program Only
12/27 - 12/30 Sirius Dog Agility Training Center Perry, GA Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/28 IncrediPAWS Zanesville, OH Tournament Classes Only
12/28 - 12/30 Saguaro Scramblers Tucson, AZ Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/28 - 12/30 Greater St. Louis Agility Club Glen Carbon, IL Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/28 - 12/30 Dog Gone Fun TX Belton, TX Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/29 - 12/30 Mid-Atlantic MADness Jessup, MD Tournament Classes Only
12/29 - 12/31 Contact Agility Club Hamden, CT Titling Event w/Tournament Classes
12/29 - 12/31 Penn-Ohio Agility Edinboro, PA Titling Event w/Tournament Classes

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

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