Around 120 dogs participated in a research study, conducted at
the Kennel Club International Agility Festival, which aims to get a
clearer picture on how agility dogs jump.
The research, which recorded high-speed videos of dogs jumping
recorded by members of the Kennel Club Dog Health Group's
Activities Health and Welfare Sub Group, was undertaken and
facilitated by a large team, including Gary Doyle (University of
East London), Dr Jacqueline Boyd (Nottingham Trent University), Dr
Anne Pullen (Nottingham Trent University), Becky Gibson (Kennel
Club Charitable Trust sponsored summer student), vet Rachel
Mowbray, chiropractor Emma Fretwell, Natasha Wise and Steve
This was one of a number of data gathering exercises conducted by
the group during the International Agility Festival weekend.
Why do it?
Whilst there are a few scientific studies that have examined how
dogs jump and have started to build an information base, there is
much that is still not known.
One area that has raised debate is jump heights. To properly
address this debate, it is important to know how dogs are
jumping. The effects of changes in heights can then be
assessed on the analysis of data. It is hoped that when completed,
this study will provide the Activities Health and Welfare Sub Group
with a clear idea about what further research is necessary to
inform decisions about, for example, appropriate jump heights for
all dogs, and guidelines for best practice in training and
conditioning dogs taking part in agility competitions.
What was done?
Approximately 120 dogs of all heights and grades took part, one of
the largest number of agility dogs ever used for a data gathering
exercise of this type. Dogs were asked to complete a line of 3
jumps at a spacing of 3.6m (KC minimum distance), a line of 3 jumps
at a spacing of 4m (FCI minimum distance for small dogs) and a line
of 3 jumps at a spacing of 5m (FCI minimum distance for medium and
large dogs). This was done at their own pace and the handler reset
the dogs after each set of 3 jumps.
As the dogs jumped they were filmed by high speed cameras.
These cameras were recording at 240 frames per second, meaning
every second they took 240 separate pictures. As a normal
video camera (in sports mode) will work at 50 frames per second,
the amount of information is nearly 5 times greater. This is
the kind of equipment needed to capture such fast moving
What happens now?
Over the next few months, the data from the video recording needs
to be analysed frame-by-frame, for all dogs, for each set of jumps
using Dartfish, a computer-based video analysis. As the study
was fortunate enough to capture data from so many dogs, this is
going to be a rather time consuming process.
What will be examined?
A number of factors such as speed of jumping, angles of take-off
and landing and differences between the 3 jump spacing.
What will this achieve?
This will contribute to the understanding of how dogs jump and how
jump spacing affects these factors. The Kennel Club will publish
what it finds to the agility community, as well as to other
locomotion scientists at conferences and through journal articles
aimed at both scientific and applied audiences.
The information will also contribute to ongoing discussions about
jump heights, distances between jumps and other agility related
What was not done?
Dogs who took part jumped at the heights they would use in
competition. A reasonable question is why we did not alter
the jump heights and examine the effects. It is rare that a
dog is trained to jump more than one height and hence jumping an
unfamiliar height would influence their jumping pattern.
Handlers were also advised to tackle the set up as they would in
training/competition and no repeat of attempts was allowed in order
to obtain data as representative of 'normal' conditions as possible
and to avoid habituation of dogs to the study set up.
What happens next?
The data analysis part now starts, for which the videos will be
edited and analysed. Preliminary data will be presented to
the Kennel Club Dog Health Group's Activities Health and Welfare
Sub Group at its next meeting in December and all subsequent
data/outputs will be made available publicly as soon as practically
The Kennel Club would like to thank all those who participated in