Change is good, right?

refJust when you thought you had it all figured out…AKC releases their 2009 Committee Regulations.  What does this mean?  It means they’ve done all the hard work of finalizing changes that they want to implement, and it only needs the approval of the Board of Directors.  In other words, they are more than just recommendations, they are just about “sealed and done”.  How will it affect you?  For those of who just want the basics, I’ve narrowed it down to the changes that will affect the most people who compete (Judges and clubs that host sanctioned trials will want to read the requirements the full report by clicking on the “read more” link below.  The AKC direct is at the bottom.)

Keep in mind these changes are not immediate.  It will take 2 years for implementation of many of these changes.  Stay tuned for current updates as we hear about them.


Rules Changes:


1. Position-less table – count/time starts once all four paws have touched the table (and the dog remains on the table top).  Neither a sit nor a down position is required.


2. Clubs may offer full refunds to exhibitors who have to cancel, after the trial has closed, but prior to the date of the trial, provided the club can fill any canceled entries from the wait list.


3. If a dog is officially measured by a VMO or Agility Field Rep for a jump height card and that measurement places the dog into a lower jump height class, entrants in the Regular classes may move down effective immediately.


There’s more! (click on the blue link below)

4. Initial move-up deadline shall be on the Tuesday preceding the trial not later than 6:00 pm for all events that start on a Thursday through Sunday.


5. If a dog gets tangled up in the closed tunnel fabric, gets hung up going through the tire, or falls off the on the ascent side of the dog walk, A-frame, or seesaw; the handler has the choice to immediately retry the obstacle once and then leave the course…


6. The A-frame shall be set to 5 foot 0 inches for the 4 and 8 inch height divisions, and remove 5′ 7″ requirement of A-frame for 26″ jump height. (This is not a change to the A-frame size, only to the height of it in trials).


7. Weave Pole Performance: Novice: Weave poles need to be completed in three attempts or less, or a failure to perform fault will be called.  Handler will then move on to the next obstacle.  Weave poles must be restarted from the first pole (no longer restarted in the middle, where the dog popped out).  Open & Advanced: Dogs will be allowed three (3) Refusals and/or Runouts and then a failure to perform fault will be called.


8. If a dog gets tangled up in the closed tunnel fabric, gets hung up going through the tire, or falls off the on the ascent side of the dog walk, A-frame, or seesaw; the handler has the choice to immediately retry the obstacle once and then leave the course, or to not retry and continue the course.


Equipment Changes:

1. Spacing between weave poles must be 24″ measured center to center with a +/- 1/2″ tolerance. Clubs will have 24 months to implement this change from when this regulation change becomes effective.  (Note: USDAA is the only organization that doesn’t currently allow 24” weaves, and the other organizations still all allow 22” spacing).


2. Tire Jump heights have been lowered:  26 and 24” jump heights set at 20”, and the other heights are 1 division lower than their jumping height.



For the full report of changes, click here:



13 Comments on “Change is good, right?


  2. It was nice to read the comments on the weave pole change. I just got a new puppy (Muffin, toy poodle mix)and I was concerned about the longer length. I am glad to know that it will not be more difficult for her. Right now we are just working on potty training and not biting (even playfully–I have too many wounds already). I can’t wait until she is a year old and can start agility.

  3. I’m glad to hear what some more experienced handlers had to say about the extension of the weave pole distance. I have a small dog and my first concern was that she would probably be popping out more often. I’m glad that that doesn’t seem to necessarily happen and I am happy for the bigger dogs – anything that is safer is better. This sport should be all about having fun without putting any unnatural or unnecessary strain on our canine friends.

  4. I agree with the #2 rule above. Two days before a trial I had a dog die with a tumor that ruptured in his stomach. Had him at two vets one and two weeks previous to the trial. Asked if there was any possible way to get a refund and the answer was “no”. The trial generally has a waiting list a mile long. Trial secretaries are very hardworking people and this does put a lot more on their plate.

  5. Pam,
    one of our classmates who is currently competing suggested that AKC adopting the changes in the weave poles and the table to make the requirements more in line with the international competition. As she said, in an international competition the top 8 dogs were seperated by less than 1 second.

    Not that I’m going to compete internationall, but I can see where agility organizations will most likely eventually become pretty standard.

    Ovbiously as the sport matures and grows, the dogs and handlers get better/faster, so now you have dogs that are MACH3 & 4, which I’m sure AKC didn’t think of right off the bat.

    In any case, my husband and I and our dogs are having fun and exercise and have entered our first trial at the end of the month. Wish us luck.

  6. Thanks for sharing this Terry. I’ve been reading all the ‘reports’ that have been coming in, and they all confirm what you observed, that small dogs seem to adapt easily to the increase of space. Trainers are observing that small dogs are not popping out of the poles any more often than before. In fact, I seriously wonder if dogs will pop out LESS. It’s just a hypothesis, and we may never know, but maybe some pop-outs (or skipping of poles) is done because dogs tire of the tight spinal bending and feel a need for relief. Anyway, it is all interesting, and no matter how we look at it, it does appear that AKC is going to make this change. Affordable Agility is almost done changing over their weave poles, though we will have the 22″ spacing as well for USDAA, who I don’t anticipate will make the change, at least this year for sure, maybe not even next.

  7. At our agility class last night, our instructor had a new set of the 24″ weave pole. All the dogs in our class did them with no problem, the Golden Retriever who abviously had more room, as well as my Welsh Corgi – he didn’t have to twist so much which is better for small dogs with long backs.

    I don’t think there will be any problem with going from the current 22″ we usually see to the 24″ and actually think the times will be faster.

  8. I would like a rule that does not permit ANY PERSON on the floor during a run. During one of my dog’s runs a “chute fluffer” person came on the floor while my dog was on the A-frame, my dog saw it, got rattled and jumped off the top of the frame. Luckily, she did not get hurt. My dog is an Australian Shepherd (Herding Breed) who is very visually stimulated.

  9. I believe that they probably figure a “fall” off the down side would be more of a missed contact. The purpose of this ruling is not to train the contacts in the ring but to help your dog overcome the fear after an accident on the equipment.

    If you have issues with this, NADAC competition allows you to train a missed contact and finish the course. No excusals.

  10. I agree with both of you- I would like it to be a fault, not a ‘okay you’re done now’. If the dog falls off, it’s bad yeah, but you should be allowed to retry if he’s okay! I don’t want him to be scared of it, next time he faces the obstacle. “I fell off and then I couldn’t play anymore… I don’t wanna get on it, mom!”

  11. I agree with 3TailsWaggin. It would be nice if they would let you put your dog back on the obsticle regardless of the end that the dog bails off. It would be nice to let them see that the obsitcle is not a monster while in competition. I always prefer to end on a positive note…

  12. “or falls off the on the ascent side of the dog walk, A-frame, or seesaw; the handler has the choice to immediately retry the obstacle once and then leave the course…”

    I am so glad to see this! But I wish they got rid of the “ascent side” and just made it for any fall off. IMO, as long as a dog is not hurt after a fall, he should be allowed to perform the obstacle again just to end it on a positive note. Especially in the novice classes!