Is Agility Keeping Pace with Technological Advances?

Posted on 01/29/09 16 Comments

Earlier this week John and I had to spend the day in the car running errands an hour or more away from home. Yes of course he drove, I do love me life. As he was driving I was thinking about all of the technological advances that surrounded me in the car. First and foremost with it being -18C outside I was grateful beyond belief for the advancement of heated car seats and couldn’t imagine living in Canada (or anywhere really as I even use these on some summer evenings) without the ability to warm my bottom on a cold day. Next as I spent 10 minutes placing a few orders on my cell phone I tried to remember the days when I had to stop to use a phone at a phone booth. Have you noticed there are far fewer phone booths out there these days? And lastly I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out for one of the worlds best invention of late: the trusted GPS that allows us to be mindlessly lured to our final destination like lemmings running off a cliff. Looking around at all of these recent advancements caused me to question what advancements have we enjoyed in agility in the last 20 years? I think to start with you would have mention how far we have come with our execution of handling. I know my own dogs personally will be forever grateful for Greg Derrett setting me on a path to more consistent and clear handling cues. As someone that lost a National Championship by 0.016 seconds, I for one was thrilled to see the advancement of electronic timing lights at the following year’s USDAA National Championships. Doing away with the cross-over obstacle sure was an advancement if you ask me! Perhaps some would consider my nose tap contact training method and the many msg” versions of it (Wendy Pape coined the msg phrase years ago when teaching her own “modified Susan Garrett”  contact method). CRCD and other computer programs for planning courses and sequences have made life easier for a lot of us as have blogs, Clean Run magazine and the multitude of internet information groups that are available today.  I would hope that one day the 2×2 method of weave pole training would also be included in this list as well.  Then I started thinking about a list of things that have yet to be discovered to make our agility dogs more successful? What about a safe, clean, inexpensive, indoor running surface. Or a safe, breakaway tire (possibly one of the new magnetic tire designs???). Or what about about jump heights that can be changed remotely with the flick of a switch or a collapsable chute material that dogs never get tangled in. A killer revolution would be if someone could come up with a fool proof way of teaching a reliable running contact. Man would that be cool, unlikely but way cool. Any others you guys can think of?


  1. Laura says:
    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 1:00pm

    Susan – just reading through some old blog posts for additional insights and motivation. I got a good chuckle reading this one when i got to the last paragraph and read “A killer revolution would be if someone could come up with a fool proof way of teaching a reliable running contact. Man would that be cool, unlikely but way cool.” It seems that you have done that with your new online course!

    Congrats on doing something ‘way cool’ that even you thought was unlikely!


  2. Dick says:
    Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at 2:45pm

    I’ve heard rumors of electronic contact systems in development. One of them uses lasers somehow. I have to think that long hair (the dogs of course 🙂 and handlers clothing could set something like that off. Has anyone else heard such rumors? I am a bit of a techno-nut as well as an agility fiend and find this topic quite interesting.


  3. Val says:
    Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 2:11pm

    I’d like to see teeters that all tip the same and that don’t bounce back up and whack your dog in the butt when he leaves the board.

    I like the idea about electronic contact zones, too.


  4. Dori says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:36pm

    Both of my dogs LOVE their heated seat after a chilly agility class.


  5. Kerry says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:25pm

    My curiosity has brought me out of lurking mode. Can you please share why you feel coming up with a fool proof way of teaching a reliable running contact is unlikely?

    Today I am thankful for my friend Kim who has loaned me her 2 X 2s so I can begin training my young dog his weavies!


  6. Christine says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 5:23pm

    I want the video camera for all contacts. All dogs all contacts for video proof. I just have to patent the idea and get moving on it!


  7. Daisy Peel says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 4:06pm

    By the way, do ‘msg’ versions of your training methods bring out the flavor better?


  8. Daisy Peel says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 3:58pm

    Solar has not missed a dogwalk contact since the first day he trialled, back in late September. Jester missed one more recently, back in December. That one Jester missed is I believe the only one he missed in all of 2008. If my running dog misses only as much as my 2o/2o dog, and if I consider my 2o/2o dog’s contacts to be very reliable, shouldn’t that imply that my running contacts are just as reliable as my 2o/2o contacts, at least by my own reliability standards? Reliable is a bit of a subjective term.

    There are fools that can outsmart any foolproof system – I’ll never forget that quote, from a NOVA show on Chernobyl several years ago. Even with the 2×2 weave pole training method, which is extremely detailed and concrete, people *still* manage to muff it up.

    In the beginning, I was intimidated by the process of training a running contact, viewed a little as the holy grail of dog agility training by some. Now, having gone through the process once, it doesn’t seem nearly so intimidating. Perhaps several years ago, the thought that one could teach a dog to stop at the end of the contact was just as intimidating to those who had never done it, which, at the time, was probably the majority of those involved in the sport.

    It may seem revolutionary now, but my guess is that a few years from now, maybe even sooner, it will seem mundane to a great many people to train a running contact – more and more people are taking the plunge, and, just as with 2o/2o contacts, those who have the mechanical skills (or perhaps the luck to have a very ethical dog) are successful, and those who do not are not.

    I’ve only gone this route with one dog, and he’s still quite young and inexperienced, and it already seems a bit mundane…the challenge seems as though it was almost too easy, although at the beginning it didn’t seem so.


  9. Kim Collins says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 1:06pm

    I think the contact zones should have sensors so that you can teach and judge any style of contact. They should be like the goals in hockey, when the dog hits it, a light or tone goes off, judges won’t even have to judge the contacts then, just see the light! And for teaching running contacts the dog just needs to figure out that the tone and/or the light is the key to the reward!Would make life easier for those of us who have to judge Regionals and/or National events especially!



  10. Carol says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:13pm

    How about a money tree?! So I can quit my job and do agility fulltime!!!


  11. Michelle says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 11:46am

    It would be nice to have a table that adjusts heights by itself at the flick of a switch so jump height changes take less time.


  12. Andrea says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 11:15am

    I have to give a shout out to the GPS – I got mine at Christmas and I don’t know how I lived without it!!!

    This isn’t a technological advance but how about a way to visually distinguish the teeter and the dogwalk for the dogs.


  13. lenekristin says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:52am

    I do like the new contacts that are touch pads. If the dog hits a contact, a ball is released immediately. Wouldn’t it be great to teach the dog to put the ball back themselves, you wouldn’t have to do anything to get fantastic running contacts, the dog would just run around doing it on their own 😀

    Or what about an A-frame that is so low on weight, you can carry it on your own


  14. Wishy says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 8:31am

    How about a reliable way to *judge* a running contact? Meaning, electronic yellow zones or some such thing that truly proves the dog hit the zone. I don’t envy judges right now who try to determine in fractions of a second whether or not a dog actually hit some of those contacts.


  15. Susan Mann says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 8:28am

    I was also going with teeter, though I don’t think silence is necessary. Perhaps a teeter that can adjust its drop automatically based on the weight of the dog- we have one dog that competes locally that isn’t heavy enough to drop the teeter, he runs out to the end, and if the teeter doesn’t have an added weight, will just stay there up in the air! And a teeter that will absorb the shock of the bang would be nice.


  16. Kristine says:
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:50am

    Someone needs to invent a nearly-silent teeter.


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