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The Overview from USDAA
USDAA Message

By Kenneth Tatsch

USDAA PresidentThe backbone of any sports organization is its judging corps, and when it comes to dog agility, USDAA's judges are recognized around the world as being among the best. USDAA typically hosts three or four judging clinics each year in the United States alone. We have also conducted them in numerous countries around the world, including Spain, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Philippines, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Argentina, and Canada.

It all starts with people who have competed in the sport and are intrigued by the many course designs and other aspects of competition. They have fun in dog agility and they want to know as much as they can about the sport and be involved in more than just the competitive aspect. There is no doubt that judging is a rewarding experience, as judges see each and every round and are able to witness first-hand the effects of their course design on handling and training. It is not all fun and games, though, as judging can be very grueling. Unexpected delays, volunteer shortages, and bad weather outdoors or dusty air indoors are just a few of the things that can take a toll, leaving judges wishing they could take Monday off from their regular job to get some rest. Nonetheless, they are back at it again the following week.

I, for one, can say that for every difficult outing, there are dozens of great ones, and in every difficult outing, there is always something positive, and there is ample opportunity to learn.  In many respects, judging is about learning, and learning is a great motivator. I view every assignment as a new learning opportunity.

Whether or not you have had any thoughts about becoming a judge, if you have a creative streak and like digging into philosophical issues and seeing how regulations fit within the framework of a sport, then you should give some thought to attending a judging clinic at some point in the future. The next opportunity for a USDAA judging clinic is June 20-23, in St. Charles, Illinois. Those wishing to take examination should come with experience, as testing is a stringent process that challenges your understanding in all corners. If you just want to learn, you are equally as welcome. And if you can't make the one in St. Charles, check the USDAA Event Calendar periodically for new listings.

On another note, the U.S. team has returned from the IFCS World Cup and European Championships (held in Spain) with eight medals, with a Gold in Jumping and several Silver and Bronze medals in other categories. Congratulations to our team! The Russians, who have been coming on really strong the past few years, were the clear frontrunners in the medal count, most notably sweeping the medals in the 26" and 12" height divisions in a number of classes. See more results and reports on news page. You can watch the action on demand on for a nominal charge.

The IFCS World Cup and Americas Championship is coming up April 25-28. The event will be streamed live on The event also serves as one of two team selection trials, helping us choose team members to represent the United States in the IFCS World Agility Championship in The Netherlands in May 2014. The Americas Championship is going to be very exciting, with lots of great competition among potential World Team members. We hope you will join us on and cheer them on!

Congratulations to the 2013 South Central Regional Champions

On April 5-7, the South Central Regional took place in Kerrville, Texas. Judges Tom Kula, David Bozak, and Rebecca Schnulle presided over the event. Congratulations to all the winners!

2013 South Central Regional Grand Prix of Dog Agility Champions
12"- Courtney Keys & Francine 22"- Herb Blase & Shazam!!
16"- Giuliana Lund & Zuri 26"- Susan Garrett & Feature

2013 Performance Grand Prix South Central Regional Champions
8"- Elizabeth Blanchard & Roxie 16"- Gerry Brown & Raptor
12"- Brittany Schaezler & Trip 22"- Renee King & Cisco

2013 $10,000 Steeplechase South Central Regional Champions
12"- Allison Davisson & Swinger 22"- Stacy Peardot-Goudy & SoBe
16"- Jennifer Thomas & Rodeo 26"- Catherine Laria & Paint

2013 Performance Speed Jumping South Central Regional Champions
8"- Ann Brawner & Piper 16"- Susan Brown & Psych
12"- Elizabeth Evans & Hemi 22"- Renee King & Cisco

2013 Dog Agility Masters Team South Central Regional Champions
Shazam!! Braedan was Amazing: Herb Blase and Shazam!!, Stacy Peardot-Goudy and Maze, Debbie Spence and Braedan

2013 Performance Versatility Pairs South Central Regional Champions
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Bite 'Em: Lucy Long and Vapor, Donna Wasielweski and Siryn

The Performance Versatility Pairs South Central Regional Champions, "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em," pose with their ribbons (and Siryn waves at the camera). To see more of the winners from this exciting event, click here.

Training Corner: Serpentines, Wraps, and Threadles
By Stuart Mah

What's the difference between a serpentine, a threadle, and a wrap? Just the amount of time the dog spends powered down on the turn before getting back up to speed and going on to the next obstacle or sequence. The ability to control the speed (or, in some cases, the power) of the dog to get a specific turn nowadays is important to do well in any competition.

This exercise practices all three:

The sequence starts out with a tunnel to get the dog going. It then goes over three jumps that are done in a serpentine manner (the dog takes obstacles in an S-shaped pattern while the handler stays on one side of all the obstacles performed). The dog needs to be powered down just slightly to be able to get a clean turn but not so long so as to make the dog go slowly from #2-#4. From the serpentine, the dog goes into the wrap portion of the sequence where there are several wrap turns in succession (#6-#10). (A dog "wraps" a jump when he takes the jump and then turns tightly around the jump standard to run back in the same direction he came from.) The dog then goes into a tunnel to pick up the speed again. The final sequence is a three jump threadle (where the dog takes several jumps in succession, each from the same side so that the dog must pull between the obstacles) at #12-#14 and then back to the tunnel.

While the sequence is designed to perform all three maneuvers, each one can be broken down into separate parts. Also, since the setup is symmetrical, the pattern can be set up in any way so that you can change the pattern of the maneuvers. If a particular type of turn needs work, the setup allows you to mix and match to practice something specific without having to change obstacles around.

The goal of the sequence is not to get through the sequence correct numerically. The skill underlying the sequence is the important goal. In this case, the goal is for the handler to be able to finely control the dog's movement by controlling the speed or power. If the handler merely tries to "get through" the sequence correct numerically, then neither the dog or the handler end up learning the skill.

Click here to see another way to number the course.

Event Report: Judging Clinic in Arizona

Each year, USDAA offers judging seminars that serve to provide intensive instruction to those wanting to understand the philosophy behind the rules, how to interpret the regulations, how to apply course design guidelines at each level of competition and style of class, and to test individuals interested in becoming "approved" judges.

Some attendees are there to further their knowledge as a competitor, while others are ready to take the test, and give of themselves as judges to serve as officials so that others can compete.

David Hanson, USDAA judging instructor and senior USDAA judge, pointing out key points on a course presented in the course design workshop portion of the clinic. Photo courtesy of Field Ranch Photography.

Congratulations to Kit Erskine of Vermont, and Heather Chase and Kama Rueschenberg, both of Arizona, for their successful completion of the judging clinic. They will soon be added to the Advanced Judges List as apprentices under supervision.

USDAA's next clinic in 2013, will be in St. Charles, Illinois, June 20-23. USDAA welcomes all competitors who want to learn more about the rules and regulations, course design, course building, and practical aspects of judging, as well as those wishing to test for official judging credentials. See the USDAA Event Calendar for details and availability in your area.

New Studies About How Dog's Perceive Human Communications
By Claudia Bensimoun

Domestic dogs comprehend human gestural communication in a way that other animal species do not, but little is known about the specific cues they use to determine when human communication is intended for them. New research, which included a series of four studies, had adult dogs and puppies being given object choice tasks in which a human indicated one of two opaque cups by either pointing to it or gazing at it. Dr. Juliane Kaminski and her team varied whether the communicator made eye contact with the dog in association with the gesture or whether her back was turned or her eyes were directed at another recipient and whether the communicator called the dog's name or the name of another recipient.

Results showed the importance of eye contact in human-dog communication, and, to a lesser degree, the calling of the dog's name, with no difference between adult dogs and young puppies. These are precisely the communicative cues that are used by human infants for identifying communicative intent. Unlike human children, dogs did not seem to comprehend the human's communicative gesture when it was directed at another human, maybe because dogs view all human communicative acts as directives for the recipient.

Kathryn Clark points out her pet rat, Friday, to her Italian Greyhound, Bella. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Clark.

Read more about this and related studies here.

Upcoming Events Calendar

Watch out for these events with entries closing in the coming month:
Dates Host Group Location Closing Date
05/03-05/05/2013 Over Rover Training Center Cato, NY 04/22
05/03-05/05/2013 MAD CO, LLC Crozet, VA 04/22
05/03-05/05/2013 Canine Agility of Central Minnesota St. Cloud, MN 04/22
05/04-05/05/2013 Run Spot Jump Canton, GA 04/22
05/04-05/05/2013 Nunes Agility Field Turlock, CA 04/24
05/04-05/05/2013 Dog Agility Sport Handlers Costa Mesa, CA 04/22
05/04-05/05/2013 Happy Hounds Agility Team Prosper, TX 04/22
05/04-05/05/2013 Fly Right Over Agility Club Plainfield, IL 04/22
05/04-05/05/2013 Agility Workout Society of Mid-Michigan Waterford, MI 04/29
05/05-05/05/2013 Denver Dog Sports Agility Denver, CO 04/27
05/10-05/12/2013 Touch & Go Agility Club Frederick, MD 04/21
05/10-05/12/2013 Club-Doggie Mesa, AZ 05/01
05/11-05/11/2013 DASH K9 Sports Geneva, IL 05/11
05/11-05/12/2013 ARFF Agility Club, Inc. Amherst, NH 04/28
05/11-05/12/2013 Front Range Agility Club (FRAC) Brighton, CO 04/22
05/11-05/12/2013 Tyler Obedience Training Club Tyler, TX 04/29
05/11-05/12/2013 DrivenDogs Agility Ontario, CA 05/06
05/17-05/18/2013 Low Country Dog Agility Charleston, SC 05/04
05/17-05/19/2013 Canine Combustion Dog Agility Club Canton, MI 05/03
05/17-05/19/2013 Boise Agility Runners & Climbers Caldwell, ID 04/29
05/18-05/19/2013 All Colorado Agility Team Pueblo, CO 05/06
05/18-05/19/2013 Artful Dodgers Agility Group Millersville, MD 04/28
05/18-05/19/2013 New England Agility Team Greenland, NH 05/01
05/18-05/19/2013 Santa Barbara Flyers Santa Ynez, CA 05/06
05/23-05/23/2013 Blue Ridge Agility Club Fletcher, NC 05/13
05/23-05/26/2013 Redhot Rovers Auburn, WA 05/13
05/25-05/27/2013 Orchard Hills Barto, PA 05/13
05/25-05/27/2013 Riverside Canine Center North Kingstown, RI 05/07
05/25-05/27/2013 Think Pawsitive LLC New Berlin, WI 05/13
05/25-05/27/2013 Happy Dog Agility Moorpark, CA 05/10
05/25-05/27/2013 Top Notch Canines LLC Phoenix, AZ 05/10
05/25-05/27/2013 Dallas Dog Sports McKinney, TX 05/13
05/31-06/02/2013 Greater St. Louis Agility Club Glen Carbon, IL 05/24
05/31-06/02/2013 Minnesota Agility Club Lake Elmo, MN 05/13
05/31-06/02/2013 Contact Agility Club Hamden, CT 05/20
06/01-06/02/2013 Bend Agility Action Dogs Prineville, OR 05/20
06/01-06/02/2013 Lucky Dog Promotions Tyler, TX 05/21
06/01-06/02/2013 Flexible Flyers Agility Group Honey Brook, PA 05/20
06/01-06/01/2013 Sugar Bush Farm Stephentown, NY 05/24
06/01-06/02/2013 All Dog Adventures Richmond, VA 05/13
06/01-06/02/2013 Twister Agility & Dog Sports Kellyville, OK 05/15
06/01-06/02/2013 Over Rover Training Center Cato, NY 05/20
06/01-06/02/2013 Contact Sports Agility Campton Hills, IL 05/17
06/01-06/02/2013 The Bay Team Petaluma, CA 05/17
06/01-06/02/2013 DrivenDogs Agility Camarillo, CA 05/20
06/01-06/02/2013 Buckeye Region Agility Group Inc. Powell, OH 05/17
06/06-06/09/2013 Canine Capers Perry, GA 05/19
06/07-06/09/2013 Canine Agility Training Society Keene, NH 05/15
06/07-06/08/2013 Center for Canine Sports, Inc. Garland, TX 05/24
06/07-06/09/2013 Club-Doggie Mesa, AZ 05/29
06/08-06/09/2013 Agility Club of San Diego Bonita, CA 05/25
06/08-06/09/2013 Lehigh Valley Dream Weaver Agility Club Barto, PA 05/22
06/13-06/16/2013 Keystone Agility Club Barto, PA 05/22
06/14-06/16/2013 Top Notch Canines LLC Phoenix, AZ 05/31
06/14-06/16/2013 NOMAD Stowe, VT 05/31
06/14-06/16/2013 Columbia Agility Team Ridgefield, WA 05/24
06/15-06/16/2013 Two Rivers Agility Club of Sacramento Woodland, CA 05/31
06/20-06/23/2013 United States Dog Agility Association, Inc. St. Charles, IL 05/20

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

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