When’s a Contact not a Contact?

Imagine a dog running down a dogwalk and exiting with three feet, leaving one on the contact. Then that foot on the contact rises up into the air a little and returns to the contact without ever touching the ground. Would this be an off-course? I’m interested specifically in AKC and USDAA policies.

AKC: On page 50 of the judges guidelines, it states that a dog is considered to have exited a contact obstacle when he has left the obstacle and all four paws have touched the ground. According to an AKC representative, that means that the scenario you describe would not be an off-course because all four feet did not touch the ground before the lone foot came to rest on the contact obstacle.

USDAA: According to a USDAA representative, as long as the dog has not exited the ramp this kind of rear foot contact would be incidental and would not be a wrong course. But, if the other three paws touch the ground prior to any paw touching the contact zone, the performance would be faulted as a missed contact.

What about on the seesaw? If the dog leave the contact with three feet before the board hits the ground but maintains contact with one rear paw until the board hits, is this a fly-off? Does it impact the call if the foot that remains in contact with the board lifts off the contact and comes back down on it without touching the ground first?

AKC: An AKC representative says, “That would be a call a judge would need to make at the time while watching the performance,” the Judges Guidelines on page 51 state that a dog exiting the plank before its elevated edge hits the ground is a fly-off. The dog must still be in control of the plank and have touched the contact zone at the same time or after the plank touches the ground.

The foot lifting on and off the board does not impact the scoring of the performance unless it appears to factor into whether the dog is in control of the board or not. The representative says, “It’s a gray area so there’s going to be some calls for some of the dogs depending on how their performance is received.”

USDAA: for the first scenario, a USDAA representative says: “the key is the weight distribution and whether the judge views that the dog has ‘control’ of the plank as it falls to the ground.” If a dog is controlling the seesaw and the foot is pushing the plank to the ground, there would be no fault. Otherwise it would be a fly-off.

When you add in the foot coming up off the board and then reconnecting with it, it would be a fly-off if it occurs before the plank hits the ground. If it happens after the see-saw touches down, then it is subject to the criteria described in the dogwalk scenario.

(c) Clean Run 2010