Dog Agility Competition Equipment Malfunctions

dog agility equipment malfunctionsThere are some disadvantages to running a very small dog and very large dogs on standard sized equipment including the fact that it is harder for the small dog to drop a teeter/seesaw.  The smaller the dog the more aggressive they need to be about getting to the front of the teeter to get it to drop.  This can slow the time down for the dog that is close to the 3 pound weight setting that the AKC Regulations call for.  If you have a 2.5 pound dog, the teeter may not fall, what do you do?  And what happens when your larger dog is running into the weaves and a pole breaks or a chute comes off when they go through the collapsed tunnel?  Will you be able to rerun the course?

These are legitimate concerns that need to be address BEFORE you enter the course.  This is why they have a judge’s briefing.  These concerns should be addressed during that talk and if not you should ask questions so you will know the protocol for the event you are attending.  The AKC has guidelines for the teeter/seesaw as well as other equipment malfunctions that you can acquaint yourself with so you will have an idea of what to expect.

The AKC 2014 Regulations for Agility Trial reads, “The plank is balanced so that it hits the ground in less than 3 seconds when a 3-pound weight is placed 12 inches from the raised end. Clubs must provide a 3-pound weight and stopwatch to check this setting. The class judge is required to test the Seesaw’s speed at the beginning of each trial. The club must have on-hand the materials to correct a slow-dropping Seesaw (example: Duct tape/fasteners, weights, etc.).”  But what do you do if it doesn’t drop?

An AKC representative offers this response: “An AKC teeter that is properly calibrated will go down when a 2.5 pound dog is at the end of it.  There are several dogs of that size currently competing.  If the teeter for some reason wouldn’t go down and the dog is at the end of the board, the handler should pick the dog up and politely ask the judge if he or she calibrated the teeter yet on that day.  If the judge answers that it hasn’t been calibrated, they should ask that it be checked and if found in need of correcting, then the dog should be awarded a rerun, using the proper rules for reruns.”

And how about other equipment malfunctions?  AKC Judges Regulations for Agility Trials explains that it is the course builders responsibility to ensure the course is safe and all equipment in proper operating condition.  It is also the judge’s responsibility to inspect all equipment prior to starting a class.  They do not consider wobbly or less than perfect equipment as severe malfunctions, however contact obstacles that fall apart, chute fabric that comes off and weave poles that break or pop off the base are.

Some incidences will require you to finish the course and then rerun the faulty equipment when it is fixed.  Unless harm is done to the dog, you should continue the course unless the judge asks you to stop.  The judge will then instruct the handler to rerun the equipment at a chosen point as long as the team got a qualifying score other than the faulty equipment.  If the malfunction affects the dog or handler greatly, the run would then be stopped at that point.

In those instances the obstacle should be repaired and the dog should be allowed to perform the obstacle one time to re-acclimate itself to the obstacle.  If the team had faults prior to the equipment malfunction that would have kept them from a qualifying score, the judge will ask them to simply complete the course.  If they had a qualifying time to that point they will be instructed to rerun the course.  They will maintain any faults gained on the first attempt and judging would resume at the point where the malfunction took place.

No one wants their dog to get hurt on a course for any reason, but things happen.  If you should find yourself in this situation be sure to keep a level head and work with the crew and judge to keep things running smooth.  Remember, we all are out there to enjoy our dogs.

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