Leashes and Dog Agility Competitions
There may be some confusion when it comes to leashes and dog agility trials as different clubs and groups have different variations on those rules. What we need to keep in mind is that those rules are in place for the safety of the dog and handler as well as keeping the playing field as fair as possible.
Many competitors use a slip leash which doubles as a reward tug at the end of the run. It may send unfair signals to the dog if the handler was allowed to carry the leash as well as posing a hazard of tripping the handler and causing injury if they were to fall into an obstacle.
In the same manner a collar with tags or a leash could cause undue harm to the dog if it were to become entangled on a contact obstacle or even a tire jump. It is plain to see why no organization or club allows any type of “choke” collar on course.
So we will go over some of the similarities and differences in the main organization rules on leashes and collars, but to be sure always contact the club hosting the competition you will be attending and ask for their rules. A mistake on your part in this area could cost you your entire run.
As far as the leash goes all organizations as of 2012 require the dog be brought into the ring on a leash and under control, it is at this point that the rules start to vary as to whether the dog may run with a collar or not.
AKC and UKC states that it is the handler’s option to run the course with or without a collar left on the dog. However, in AKC if they choose to do so it MUST be a flat buckle or rolled leather collar with NOTHING hanging from the collar. The collar may ONLY have the dog’s name or ID info or generic decorations stitched or painted on it. The UKC states it must be a plain, well fitting collar approved by the judge and that scarves, bandanas, caps, sunglasses, etc. are prohibited.
USDAA, NADAC and CPE have the same rule in this regard. You are not allowed to run your dog with a collar. CPE even goes as far as to say the dog shall be wearing nothing except a small barrette or rubber band to keep hair out of the dog’s eyes. Neither, allow toys, treats or leash play closer than ten feet from the ring. The ring stewards will remove the leash after the dog has started the run.
USDAA has a youth division that allow dogs to not only compete with a collar but on lead as well. In Beginner class they may compete in a buckle collar and lead. In Elementary the dog must be off leash but is allowed to wear a buckle collar, without anything attached. But, the dog must run without collar in the Intermediate and Senior classes.
TDAA has some very interesting rules on the matter. The dog may be run with leash but cannot “drag” the dog through any part of the course and the leash MUST remain in the control of the handler especially on contact obstacles and with the exception of tunnels and tire jumps. Here’s the cute part, in TDAA the dog will not be eliminated for wearing collars WITH tags, wearing adornments, ties, clothing and even mild cursing as long as it isn’t directed at the dog or an official on the field!
MOST of the organizations do not allow electronic training collars real or dummy while many will allow a choke chain or harness. They vary on pinch collars and some do not allow head halters, so be sure you know before arriving as most that don’t allow these types of training devices DO NOT allow them anywhere on the grounds.
This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list of organizations and clubs may have variations to the rules if allowed so it is up to the handler to be sure they know the rules for any given competition BEFORE entering the ring. And remember these rules are in place for the safety of both dog and handler as well as the enforcement of a positive environment for all who attend.
You might want to double check your info on USDAA requirements. The divisions and leash rules listed apply ONLY to the Junior Handler program. For regular USDAA classes, all dogs at all levels must enter the ring on leash and must run without leash or collar.
Thank you for pointing this out, you are correct and we are editing the post now as well as adding UKC.