Contest-Pause Tables for Four Paws

June’s contest is here!  The AKC is changing their pause table requirements to four paws on, no position required, as of September 1st, 2010.

What’re your thoughts on this position change? It seems almost like a celebration in mediocrity to me. While downing on the table may be overkill, since it’s difficult to tell with some dogs if they’re down, or just crouched (Greyhounds, Dobies, and similar body types spring to mind.) it seems too easy to just have to jump up and stand on the table. A position on the table showcases your dogs’ impulse control and focus in a unique way, and doing away with that aspect of agility, no matter how difficult, feels like a cheapening of the entire sport. I know it can be difficult to find out just before a trial which position your dog has to assume. That makes things harder.

Am I alone in this? Maybe I’m just behind the times. Will this change make agility more fun for you and your dog? Even if you don’t compete in AKC, I’d like to get your feedback.  Does the venue you compete in require a position?

Comment with your answer and you could be this months’ winner!  The prize is a Doggie Drencher from Affordable Agility, sure to help cool off your speeding bullet. The winner will be selected by random drawing on June 30th.

The winner was Janet!  Congratulations! Stay tuned for more contests.

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  2. Scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your comment/answer.  Or, if there is no box, click on the “comments” in the upper right corner.

51 Comments on “Contest-Pause Tables for Four Paws

  1. We all got into agility knowing that our dogs would be required to either sit or down on the table. Well in order to make its flavor of agility more palitable, the AKC has opted to go more vanilla by making the table positionless.

  2. As far as I’m concerned, this is a terrible decision. It’s just one more thing that favors the fast dog over the precise one. We’ve never had a problem with the pause table: I use “bench sit” or “bench down” and my dog goes into the proper position immediately – not hard to teach. There should be more to agility than just running fast!

  3. I’m new to agility but it seems to me that safety should be the primary concern. Fairness should follow closely. I’ve observed that judges don’t always seem to start counts at the same time, so maybe an electronic table counting from the first contact will improve fairness. My dog is quite fast and has skidded off of tables without rubber surfaces – she had to learn to collect and control the ascent. So it seems to me that there is still value in an elevated table for a ‘pause’ even if there is no ‘down’, rather than just pausing on a spot on the floor as some people are commenting.

  4. I am actually one of those that is thrilled! I mainly run standard poodles & greyhounds & it seemed like every time we had a down it took the judge a very long time to realize that they were actually down (conformational position thing). I wish they would bring back some of the more fun obstacles like the sway bridge, the open water jump, the cross over, the crawl tunnel, or the window jump. Those obstacles show training, control and commitment. Over even better yet for those of us out here in the VERY hot desert would LOVE to see the doggie drencher made a an “offical” obstacle! I am just thrilled to have fun & run with my canine friends, it doesn’t matter even if we only have a few jumps & a tunnel, AGILITY IS FUN! Run fast, run clean, have FUN! 😀

  5. All of the comments are well taken! For myself and my dog I feel that any talent or obedience that your dog can learn on or off the agility run is benefical. Everybody wants a well trained dog no matter what. So table or no table, just add this particuliar obedience skill to the repatra of your dog and if you and your dog are ever asked to complete this manuver you will have it in your hind pocket. Its a plus!

  6. So many great comments. I’ve heard that this is to reduce trial time since so many individual teams have issues with getting the dogs to do the required task. In a trial with 500 dogs, if half of them have a 20 second delay, that’s 8 minutes more for the judge to stand on their feet, for the trial to take longer on a hot afternoon when everyone just wants it over, etc. I think if they hook a timer to the table, that would be great, but how will the timer know when all four paws are on? IMO, I agree that it somehow takes an element of the challenge of agility out of the picture, which is bad. But overall, I think people just do not like change, and over time they will learn to deal with this. What if AKC wanted to add a completely new obstacle? People would complain then too. If the game never changes (becoming easier OR harder) then it will beome boring.

  7. Personally, at my level which is very low, Novice and Open I am very disappointed. My goal is to create such a strong bond between my dog and myself that it focuses on my commands no matter what, even when extremely excited and running like a bullet:) However, that said I understand the controversaries at the much higher levels of competition where tenth of seconds count. So, I agree with an earlier post that they need some kind of counter or timer on the table where human error can not cost someone time. Sounds very complicated to fix but those are my thoughts.

  8. Just starting out in Agility,but I think the resting/pause table is a good idea. Let the handler regroup and slows down the dog for 5 seconds. I have two year old aussie and he is quick. I vote for no change.

  9. I’m new at Agility, but it seems to me that making the pause table position an option is sort of like saying “you don’t have to touch the contact zones” or “you can pick which exercises or obsticles you want to do.” I’ve worked hard getting my dogs to concentrate and show control. Mine can do either the sit or the down so we are prepared for both. It will certianly be easier for the big dogs like mine to just stand there instead of lying down and then having to get up to a fast start. I like having the table, since it gives me time to catch my breath.

  10. I think this is a good thing, for large breeds it will be easier for them to stand and faster to get off the table, I will still have to teach the down for the other venue. I just wish they had some form of electronics for the count instead of a human, they never count the same every time.

  11. I have never had a problem with either position on the table; and, because I can’t run fast as a gazelle like some of the younger handlers…I like the table because I have time to lead out before the next obstacle. I will probably use ask my dog to stand on the table when the new rule goes into effect. Will be easier for the dog to gain speed if it does not have to rise from a sit or down.

  12. I can certainly understand why the decision was made to change the table rule, as this will definitely speed up the trial. It will eliminate the amusement of watching handlers do their “Down, Down, Down” dance and chant. I do think it will now give more advantage to the ‘crazy fast’ dogs and take an advantage away from more well-trained obedient dogs and their capable trainers. Overall, not a change for the better.

  13. It is easy to see each persons perspective….however, I do agree that agility is a team effort. One that the dog must be very in tune with the handler, a well trained dog should be able to do the table either up or down. In every trial there is a time when your dog has a problem with the double or the seesaw or some other obsticle, will we change all of them just to keep peace? I think many handlers look at the sport as just going as fast as you can, and some dogs are more capable of going fast than others so then do we take the timing out? Every sport must evolve but where do we stop?
    My boy is still a beginner competing in novice standard and open jumpers, but, I find the table a challenge. And when he does it right it is awesome, if not I still love him. And always will. It’s not always about me.

  14. Seems like a cop-out to me. We’ve trained an automatic down on the table as long as we’ve been doing agility. Started in USDAA, so that was the default. Made it work with All Americans, high-strung bird dogs, and border collies. Wasn’t hard to add a sit when I eventually tried AKC. Reckon they should drop the table all together if this is the path they are going down.

  15. I honestly don’t know why AKC (or other venues) has a table in the middle of an agility course at all. I’ve always thought a table right in the middle of an agility course to stop your dog with a sit, stand, or down for 5 seconds was ridiculous. If you want to have your dog do obedience, then enter an obedience trial. I train the table and my dogs are good at it, but it takes away their momentum when trying to get up speed on the course. I am glad that AKC is making it “handlers choice” at the table, but I would be estactic if they took the table away all together. When you watch the AKC international championships, you don’t see a table. I wonder why?

  16. I support the AKC’s endeavor to make the sport more efficient and also to recognize the real reluctance of some breeds like terrier types to lie down or to sit especially at the height of prey drive. On the other hand, the new “non” requirement will cause a lot of slide offs, fall offs, and run offs if dogs do not have a trained and predictable table performance. No one says we CAN’T train an automatic sit or down. I train the latter and will continue to do so. Nothing to lose!!

  17. For purely selfish reasons, I have been waiting for this change before entering my JRT in AKC standard again. In NADAC we don’t have to deal with the table and she is so much happier during her run because everything that happens on the agility course is a positive experience. We stopped doing AKC standard because she was just not having fun when, in the middle of a fun time with me, I suddenly “punished” her by asking her to stop and lay down.

  18. I like the idea of the change. I mainly compete in CPE where the table is only used to stop the clock and was dredding the move to AKC because of the table. I will be interested is seeing how this changes strategy.

  19. I think for most dogs just standing still for 5 seconds takes a lot of control. From a spectator perspective it will likely look like a faster game rather than watching handler after handler say “down….down….down….DOWN…DOWN!!!”…and then after they hop up again watching the handler repeat the entire thing AGAIN. So, great for spectators and likely happier dogs. So should we as handlers really care?? I don’t. Oh…the second part of the question is CPE and no they don’t require a down.

  20. I’m very happy that my dog is no longer required to down on the table: she is a cancer survivor and I think the table down is a very uncomfortable position for her. Zosia has no hair on her elbow due to radiation treatment 17 months ago. I don’t mind having her sit, or even stand, since she is a master level dog. For our newer agility dogs, the control of a sit is more desirable, so that’s what I will do. Ultimately it is up to the handler to communicate and perform with their dog, so leaving it flexible is fine with me.

  21. My dog and I are very new to the sport, so we are still competing in the beginner levels in CPE, USDAA, and AKC. My own impression is that it cheapens the sport, because downing on the table is a test of control and I like that. I may be biased because my dog is pretty good at it.

    However, I can understand why they want to make the change. If an electronic timer is used, it will trigger with any contact on the table and not having a human do the count when a dog is in down/sit position will be more accurate. I think that matters a lot to people at the high levels of the sport.

    I also noticed from watching videos of international competition that dogs from outside the US just stand on the table, so I assume AKC is also trying to be more in line with international rules (same as going to the 24″ spacing on weave poles).

  22. As good as my dog is on the table, it’s really a momentum-breaker to stop at a table. Other organizations we compete in don’t use it except as a finish line (CPE). Also, with a “human” doing the counting, the cadence may be a little different for each dog so it’s not an accurate picture of time, especially when the competition stakes are high. I personally prefer eliminating the table, but if a behavior on this obstacle is required, it should remain a sit or down, preferrably a sit.

  23. I don’t agree with the new ruling on the table, as it seems to just make things simpler, and taking away a challenge. I know the table stresses some dogs and handlers, but so can other obstacles if not trained enough and positively. May as well take the table out if nothing more is required than just getting on the table. Some may find it more of a challenge to get a dog to stand and stay on the table for 5 seconds than to go through the discipline of sitting or downing and staying on the table.

  24. I am sorry to see a rule change to that extreme. True it will make my life easier since we have trouble with the down on the table if the judge looks scary, but just to say do what you want it seems that they are taking away a training aspic of agility. Agility is supposed to be fun but sometimes there are bumps in the road that you have to work through. Who is going to bother to train a table position now? Ok, so maybe we will finally Q in Open Std come the fall if the weaves don’t get us first.

  25. I think the reason for the table change in AKC is that the electronic table count is on the way here in a few years. WIth that it just will sense when the the dog in on the table and not the position. I would expect most people will still ask for a postion since a stand might encouraqge jumping off prematurely. As to my positon, I think it should have been eliminated in excellent and kept in open and novice. It is not used in the national competitons. It owudl speed the trial up quite a bit.

  26. I think that the change has been made to make timing runs more accurate. The table is the only place in an agility run that is subjective. The judge is a human, not a stop watch, his or her count could vary by a second or more from dog to dog with no intent to do so. This can really affect a team chasing a MACH. I will never be in that postion but I think that the change brings equality to the game.
    Since I play both AKC and CPE it will make it more consistant for my dog. She will know she has to get on the table and get off when I release her. Now she looks at me like do I stay or do I go ;o)

  27. I think we should all teach our dogs to do all positions on the table. I did my first Tea Cup and had to stand on the table – I was very lucky that I found a quick way to get my dog to do this as we had never trained that. We have trained sit and down from the very beginning. All dogs are able to do all three positions so why not train them. Let’s not dumb up agility like we have some colleges for humans just because MORE will then be able to do that. If you can train weaves you sure can train sit, down and stand……….

  28. For very bid dogs this will be a bonus as they can’t just sit in the middle and then down – they have to position themselves carefully in order to be able to down. In training beginners it is a good tool for changing sides on a simple course and therefore I think it should be kept in the competition. I also agree that sighthounds are not happy on hard surfaces in a down – collie owners please don’t be selfish – it’s not all about winning.

  29. Agility should be a working class not just a speed class ( if you want to do speed then try Fly Ball!) The point is to bond with your dog so well that you both become one; a perfect team when you are doing agility; so the pause table is just one of the elements to the dance. I don’t like the weave poles either but, I don’t want to take them out. There must be a challenge to the sport. I believe if the dogs are not asked to sit or down there will be alot more injuries to the dogs that run at top speed and slide or tumble off the table just trying to get a better time. It is after all a pause table…some place to regroup and put a better second half of the course together. If they require no position then for safety sake I hope they elimate it all together in AKC.

  30. Our agility organisation removed positions on the Tables approx 10 or more years ago. Great idea! Agility is no longer seen as a offshoot of obedience and the ever increasing speeds of the game make table positions rather redundant and pointless. Table is becoming an optional obstacle in most classes now, rarely used in Masters level, except by “old school Judges”.

  31. I like the pause table with a sit or down for several reasons. One, it gives me a chance to catch my breath and to think about where we go next. Also, it allows me to lead out again. I also agree that it shows training and control on the part of the owner and dog, and eliminating it will probably become nothing but a sloppy jump up and down. What if the dog jumps up and slides off–does that count?

  32. It doesn’t matter to me. However, it has seemed wierd to stop a fast run to rest. Once in AKC Excellent,if you still need the table to regroup,you have some issues. LOL. It is suppose to show control over your dog but if you dont have it you will never get to EX. anyway.

    USDAA still requires a down on the table in its Standard class but no table elsewhere. NADAC doesnt have the table at all and I dont miss it.

    The table count is impossible to standardize and varies a great deal, which does effect placements and yps.

  33. I believe they should keep it where the judge tells you if it is a sit or a down. Just jumping up and standing on the table is really no challenge at all. Why put the pause table in if that’s all they require. The dog can stand on the floor in a designated area for all the table is worth with this change.

  34. I don’t like this new change. I think that lying down on the pause tables gives the dog a great obedience challenge and also gives the owner a second to regroup. If they were to make this change, they really should just get rid of the pause table altogether, because if the dog just has to stand on it there is really no point.

  35. Just a with people, some dogs are better at some items than others. My understanding was that dogs should be trained to meet the rules, not that the rules should be changed to fit the dogs.

    Unless there is some innate danger with the activity being done on equipment, there is no need to change things.

    Logically, it seems the longer a sport is in existence, the better the dogs performances should be. Using this model, we should be making the courses more difficult, not less.

  36. I have a beginner dog, so for me this will be good. I will probably have her sit on the table so she has something to do and is paying attention to me, but the timing will have already started. I don’t think it will be much of an issue either way–afterall, it is a “pause” table not a “sit” table or a “down” table.

  37. I agree that it “cheapens” the table obstacle. My dog is (was) very good at getting into the sit or down position on the table, so we probably lose some advantage over some other competitors. Since they are taking away sit/down, I am not sure that it doesn’t now make sense to just do away with the obstacle all together ? I have been working very hard with my dog to “proof” the contacts as we have had an issue with these at our past few trials….it would make it easier for me and many others if they did away with the contacts (just kidding). As someone else asked in a previous response, why did they change this ?

  38. If they are going to eliminate the position on the table, they might as well eliminate the entire obstacle, because it’s just a big waste of time and the dog now doesn’t really have to do anything except stand there and bark or zone out. I think that dogs that don’t have sufficient self control to obey a command and retain a position for 5 seconds either need retraining or behavior medication to knock their anxiety level down about ten notches. I also think it is sad that a bunch of whining about something that has nothing to do with the welfare of the dog in the sport (welfare is the case with 24″ weave poles)can cause the obstacle to be watered down to something that isn’t meaningful, if that is what happened that led to this change. My obedience instructors used to say “Train: don’t complain”.

  39. If you are not going to require anything but getting on the table – why not just eliminate the table exercise. I complete mainly in TDAA and we can actually have one of four options for the table – sit, down, stand, or handler’s choice (must announce to the judge before you start). Agility shouldn’t just be about speed, but about control – and the table is a great exercise to show this.

  40. From a handler perspective, having the dog sit or down on the pause table is the true test of whether the handler has control of the dog. Control is very important in having a clean agility run. The pause table exercise also allows the team to pause and reconnect if the dog has become distracted. Fast dogs often need this time to refocus on their handler so they don’t miss the upcoming contacts.

    From another perspective, many young trainers start agility through 4-H dog programs across the country. Having the table exercise requirement is a great asset to leaders as to when kids should be allowed to begin agility training. A child needs to have control of their dog and be able to work as a team through basic obedience exercises in order to be successful in agility. Granted many kids and dogs will find agility more fun than obedience, but obedience is the foundation where kids and dogs learn to work together and respect each other as a team.

    Agility isn’t all about being fast, but about accuracy. The pause table sit and down exercises separate the good teams from the best teams.

  41. Seems like a step backwards. If you can’t teach your dog to sit/stay, down/stay you are getting by too easily. The 1 second(or more if not trained) to do this is added to everyone’s time. I can see a lot more runoffs with not having a real stop on the table

  42. I am thrilled !! Although my dog can do a really fast table in practice, we always seem to have an “argurment” over a down on the table in compeition. Instead of barely making time, I expect to pick up 10-15 MACH points on every Q-ing standard run !! About time !

  43. It’s incongruous with the rest of agility, IMO. Go, go, go, then dead stop. What’s point, really. Probably should have elminated it altogether since it stresses dogs for no good reason. If you love your down or sit, you can still require it of your dog…

  44. The table has been a thorn in my side for a long time. Even the best trained dogs sometimes don’t feel “safe” enough to lie down with all of the activity and other dogs around. A ‘down’ position leaves them vulnerable to attack in their primitive minds.

    I will probably opt for a sit on the table even if it’s not required just because it’s easier for them to launch themselves from a sit rather than a standing position.

  45. One of the greatest assets of agility is to create a partnership between you and your dog. The dog must focus on the handler and that creates a great bond for daily living. It is a fun way to develop that bond and expose the dog to foreign obstacles and situations in the environment. We should not become so competitive that we lose sight of these original benefits that “agility” was really created to produce. The dog needs to do as the handler directs. A position on the PAUSE table may not be the favorite obstacle of the dog, but control and the dog’s willingness to pay attention and follow direction should supercede that of “making it easier”, IMHO. That being said I will add “stand” to her table training so she still has to pay attention and I remain in control of the situation.

  46. Any behavior on the pause box has been discontinued because it takes time for the dog to perform the sit or down. IMO, this is a training issue, but you have the constant whine by people that don’t put enough value on the table. “My dog doesn’t want to stop the game,” but whose game is it?
    Will we start eliminating other obstacles because, “my dog doesn’t want to do them?”

  47. I am sorry they are changing the table rule for a very selfish reason…my dog is very good at it! I do know that some people belive having the dog lie down in the middle of running a course is unfair to the dog…think of having to suddenly lie down in the middle of some sort of difficult athletic competition. For the fastest dogs, the table is certainly an annoyance but it gives the handler a chance to regroup and think before going on! For a dog like mine…stronger on obedience than speed, it is a good obstacle.

    I am not happy about it, but many people are thrilled!

  48. As I understand it from listening to other (who are competing at a much higher level than I), that this change has something to do with international competitions. And, as when competing for MACH points, the difference between 1st and 2nd can be only tenth of a second, so how the judge counts is important. The other thing they talked about is having a timer somehow connected to the table, so the time on the table is the same.

    Like I said, this is just what I’ve heard. Since I’m still at Novice/Open level the change isn’t impacting me.

    Does anyone have specific information from AKC as to why they are changing the pause table?