Picture of Jenny Damm

Jenny Damm

Thoughts about course design

I have already been writing about this in a previous blog post. But I read a discussion about it in facebook and it worth to be posted again. The text is a bit updated and pictures/course maps are added. 

In the team agility course on Friday it was a totally stupid entry to the chute. Sometimes I really don't understand how judges think when they design a course. It has happend several times in competitions this spring (even for class 1 and 2!!), that the only challenge of the design is how the dog should manage the situation, without getting injured or falling off the obstacles…! For the situation at EO it was the same, no special challenge to have a soft compared to a hard tunnel, it was just a big risk for injuries. What was the point for putting the chute so the dogs were coming from the side in full speed? Don't we all have the accident at junior EO fresh in our minds? And at the seminar in Dorsten I had a student who lost her dog three months ago becuase her dog got injured in the flat tunnel. So WHY on earth even think about a situation like that?? We were several people who complained to some judges, teamleaders and finally a quite important person I thought could do something about it. His answer was: "It's not my course." But I wonder, isn't the most important thing that our dogs can run through the courses without a big risk for injuries because of the course design? However, finally they changed the angle a bit so the dogs came more straight in, but still it was many dogs that got stuck in the fabric when they tried to turn after, as they should do in the course. Watch the video and you will see what happen with the dogs. Maybe fixing the tunnel is not a good idea? Maybe the fabric should be a bit shorter? 

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The course was designed so the dog came from the far tunnel entry of the yellow hard tunnel, over the jump and diagonally into the flat tunnel… Photo: Mette Björne

Here's the video made from this situation, the judge finally turned the chute but watch the video what happens with the exit, especially when it's fixed in the ground like it was…

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In Italy I found a another situation I think is not fair for the dogs, this time it was the entrance of the DW, in a course that except this was really fun. Whatever side you turned your dog over the jump before DW it was a really bad approach. Several dogs fell off or crawled up. Ok, you could push the dog out in a bigger, time consuming circle to get it straight on and in that way also put your self in a bad position for the coming sequense after the DW. But, is that really the point of our sport?! To make extra turns and plan to help the dog and avoid injuries around the course? For me a much more   logical thinking would be "You need to trust your dog in the situation before the DW and on the contact zone to be able to solve the sequense after in a good way." I don't understand the idea… I would like to have a discussion with the judges and hear their point of view about angled approaches to contact obstacles and flat tunnels. 

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I would like to hear the judge's explanation about the situation 15-17, what was his idea? Did he even consider it was a dangerous approach to the DW? Or was his thoughts "How many handlers are willing to help the dog with the approach?" In my opinion it was a pitty with the DW-approach, because otherwise it was really fun and challenging.

I can give you several more situations that I have experienced the last months, but I think it's enough for now. Is this kind of course design what we want and are going to accept in our sport? Will this be kind of a common future challange we as handlers need to take care about? I hope NOT!

I really would like judges to give your opinion about situations like this.