Tuesday, November 27, 2012


We all know that dog training DVDs can be pretty expensive. We have a great selection of books and DVDs in the LCDA library, but occasionally I cannot find the book/DVD that I am looking for. While looking for a better price for a tricks training video that I wanted, I found this website:

Bow Wow Flix has an inventory of thousands of DVDs about dog obedience, agility, tricks training, breeding, grooming, etc. You pay a monthly fee of $10.95 and you can rent an unlimited number of DVDs per month. As soon as you are done with one DVD, you ship it back (shipping is free both ways) and get your next DVD in the mail, similar to Netflix. You can cancel your subscription any time you want. So instead of having to pay $60 for the tricks training DVD I wanted, I am now only paying $10.95. I browsed through the agility DVDs and they had a great selection including videos by most of the lead trainers we're all familiar with like Susan Garrett, Linda Mecklenburg, Susan Salo, and Rachel Sanders.


Christine and Rusty

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Does Your Dog See?

As a veterinary ophthalmologist, I am frequently asked questions about the specifics of vision in dogs, especially performance dogs. Vision depends on a number of factors, but there are some important concepts common to all dogs. These concepts are often most easily understood in a comparative fashion to our vision.

Field of vision: Dogs have a wider field of vision based on the more lateral position of the eyes. Compared to humans who have about 180-200 degrees, a dog’s vision field is 240-270 degrees, meaning that their peripheral vision is much better than ours. This allows our dogs to run ahead of us and yet still be able to detect our pace, body position, and arm motions when we are behind and lateral to them. This also gives them much more in the way of obstacle options from which to choose compared to what we are focusing on, so our body position needs to assist in accurately directing them.

Detail vision: The advantage of the wider field of view in dogs results in a compromise in binocular vision. This results in decreased depth perception and a decrease in focusing/accommodation or detail vision. In comparison to the average human with 20/20 vision, the average dog has 20/75 vision (the detail that we see at 75 ft, they see at 20 ft).  This means that from a distance they cannot see facial expressions or an object at rest. So frowning at your dog is not perceived! This loss of detail is outweighed by their ability to see much better in dim light and to detect motion.

Color: Dogs are NOT color blind. They are similar to a human with red-green color blindness in that they do see SOME color. Specifically the canine retina contains 2 cones (versus 3 in humans): one at 429 nm (blue) and the other at 555nm (yellow). They can easily differentiate colors in these wavelengths similar to humans. They lack a red type cone, so red/orange/green are seen as shades of yellow.  From an agility equipment standpoint, blue and yellow are easily distinguished which is why most contact equipment in competition involves these contrasts.  The dark green and yellow are contrasted well enough to be distinguishable.

Night vision: The dog’s retina is rod-dominated, and rods are responsible for dim light vision. They also have a reflective structure within the retina that reflects light (tapetum). Because of this, dogs (and cats) can see much better than humans in dim light. Training at night is much harder for us than for them!

Motion: Rods are also responsible for motion detection. With a rod dominated retina and a wider field of view, dogs are MUCH more sensitive to subtle motion changes than humans are. This is why a flick of the hand can be so distracting and can cause a knocked bar or a sudden pull out of a tunnel. A subtle change in our pace (acceleration/deceleration) is very notable to them as well.

I hope that this improves some understanding of how your agility dog visualizes the equipment and the handler. Even with this abundant knowledge, I still flick my hand or adjust my sunglasses while my dog is weaving.

Anne Cook and Hunley

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Team Competition

Yes, I know - you've heard enough about if you and your dog are a team.  But wait!  This blog is actually about the team event at agility trials.  Rumor has it we will be offering team in a spring trial.  So, you should know a little something about it before you compete in it.

USDAA Dog Agility Masters (DAM) Team/ Performance Versatility Team (PVP)

-Open to any level dog/handler.
-Championship Teams have 3 dogs/3 handlers; Performance Teams have 2 dogs/2 handlers.
-Championship Teams can have only 2 different heights; Performance can be any heights.
-You can enter with a team, or if you don’t have anyone to enter with you can enter as a draw and you will be put with a team.
-You get to pick the name for your team!
-Each dog/handler competes in each of the 5 classes (Standard, Gamblers, Jumpers, Snooker, Relay)
-Courses are Masters level with a few differences - no table in Standard, may be different rules for Gamblers, Snooker may be modified, Jumpers has weaves & long jump.  Judges can get more creative.
-Each person is scored individually and scores are added together for the team; Each class is given a specific number of points.
-Classes are scored under Masters Rules, Time + Faults, ie faults such as dropping a bar/missed contact/refusals are added to your time.  3 refusals, taking an off course, or skipping an obstacle give you an E for that class.
-You don’t qualify/place in individual classes (your individual runs don’t count for titles); Teams qualify by earning over 850 points total in Championship (566 for Performance) or within 25% of the average of the points of the top 3 teams overall.
-Team Qs are needed for your ADCH, Tournament Master title, or to qualify for Nationals (2013 USDAA Nationals are in October in Murfreesboro, TN - you need 1 team Q to enter team at nationals).

There you have it.  Are you excited for team now?  Happy Trialing!