USDAA Please Require Four Paws on the Ground Before Calling an Off Course

06 Jan 2020Steve Schwarz

In recent years USDAA has been moving faster to update their rules to meet the requests of competitors. I’ve got a proposal I’d like them to consider.

First off, I’m not a “rules maven” so please forgive me if I don’t use exactly the correct rule book terminology. My layman’s understanding is, currently, if a dog is on a contact and starts the down contact (level plank on DW or the teeter tips) they have committed to the contact. If the dog then touches the down side contact area they have successfully completed the obstacle.

So far so good.

My clarification is around when the dog can be considered as leaving the obstacle. In AKC and other organizations the dog has left the obstacle when all four feet touch the ground. Some USDAA judges consider the dog as leaving the obstacle when any foot touches the ground. That brings up this scenario:

The dog is in contact with the board, has touched the yellow, (for the teeter the board touches the ground), and then the front feet touch the ground. Then the dog’s rear feet leave the board, without touching the ground, and then land back on the board.

There are some judges who are calling this a fault (I believe they are calling it an off course).

Has Snap! Left the Teeter?
Has Snap! Left the Teeter?

Here’s video with slow motion describing the situation (in the video pretend the board hits the ground before his front feet touch the ground so it is not a fly-off):

Yes, I don’t like Snap!‘s high speed slide into 2o2o position but when he’s amped up he’ll do that.

My point is only (some) USDAA judges will call a fault for this contact performance (I’ve seen it called on the Dog Walk and A Frame also). I’d like USDAA to state that this contact performance is not a fault/off-course so their judging aligns with the other organizations.

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