Eagerly awaited agility regulation changes, which will see significant changes to grade progression and jump heights over the next few years, have been announced by the Kennel Club in response to the findings of consultations with the agility community over the last three years.
A number of changes to the ‘H’ Regulations for Agility have been approved which are being made in order to address issues that the Agility Liaison Council has identified and considered during its current term of office.
Three Panels, set up by the Agility Liaison Council, have over the last three years considered a number of separate issues which are important to the agility community, and have made recommendations for changes to the ‘H’ Regulations based on their findings.
The Equipment Panel
The Equipment Panel considered various elements of the obstacles that dogs are currently required to negotiate. From its recommendations, the Board approved the following regulation changes:
The regulation change below has been made to reflect the fact that pipe tunnels are manufactured and sold in metric sizes. Additionally, the revised regulation clarifies that only a single curve is permissible in the configuration of the tunnel in a test.
Amendment to Regulation H(1)(B)4.(11)
Pipe Tunnel—This obstacle should have a diameter of a minimum of 609mm (2ft) 600mm (1ft 11.6ins) and should be a minimum of 3.048m (10ft) 3m (9ft 10.1ins) in length. The tunnel may only curve in a single direction.
(Deletions struck through. Insertions in bold)
(Effective 1 January 2019)
The below regulation has been made in order to align the height of the dog walk with international competitions.
Amendment to Regulation H(1)(B)3.n
- Dog Walk—A walk plank of approximately 1.372m 1.2m measured from the ground to the top of the plank, with firmly fixed ramps at either end…
(Deletion struck through. Insertion in bold)
(Effective 1 January 2019)
The Use of Whistles
It had been proposed that a regulation be introduced to exclude the use of whistles in standard classes. The introduction of this regulation was not recommended for approval, as it was felt that there are sufficient processes in place to request judges not to use whistles. Shows wishing to restrict the use of whistles at their show could indicate this in the judges contract.
The Grading Panel
The Grading Panel considered the issue of quick progression through the grades which has resulted in minimal entries in the lower grades, with extremely high numbers of entries in the higher grades.
Following its research, the Grading Panel recommended regulation changes that would serve to slow progression. These changes are explained below.
Up until now, any experienced handler bringing out a new dog would need to start competing with that dog in Grade 3, due to there being two ‘protected’ grades (Grades 1 & 2) for new handlers.
It was felt that due to the low numbers of competitors in Grades 1 and 2, there was no necessity to continue to offer two protected grades. Therefore, from 1 January 2019 experienced handlers with new dogs will enter Grade 2, while new handlers and dogs would continue to enter at Grade 1.
Scheduling of Progression Classes
Currently, shows are able to schedule as many progression classes for each grade as they wish, giving dogs multiple opportunities to win out.
The new regulations will provide for shows to schedule a maximum of four standard classes for any dog on an individual day of competition. This will reduce the opportunities available for any one dog to win out at a show, thereby slowing down progression.
Scheduling of Graded Classes
In the regulations as they currently stand, a show may schedule a Graded class for any number of grades, which allows for, at its most extreme, a Graded 1-7 class. This allows up to seven dogs to win out of their grade from this one class, in a test which may not be grade appropriate for some of the dogs entered.
In order to combat this, the regulation has been amended to restrict the number of grades in a Graded class to a maximum of three. This will reduce the number of dogs that can win out from one class, and will therefore slow progression.
However, a show may still schedule combined classes that include as many grades as required.
In addition to changing the scheduling of classes to tackle progression, the regulations have also been amended to increase the amount of wins or points needed to progress.
Currently, dogs can progress up to Grade 4 with wins or points from jumping classes only. Under the new progression criteria, dogs will be required to have wins in agility classes as well. The number of wins required to progress has been increased for each grade, including Championship eligibility. Progression from points will require at least 50 points from agility classes.
Height Classification Panel
The Height Classification Panel considered the jump heights that dogs are currently expected to negotiate in a test. It looked at whether any changes were needed to protect the welfare of dogs, while also considering the practicality of scheduling multiple heights at a show.
Currently, dogs jump at 65cm, 45cm or 35cm at full height or 55cm, 35cm or 25cm at lower height, depending on what height they have been measured in to. The Lower Height Option was introduced in order to allow owners to compete at a height they felt was appropriate for their dog.
As of 1 January 2020, jump heights will be changing and an extra height will be introduced.
The changes that have been approved will see the jump heights being lowered to 60cm for Large dogs, 40cm for Medium dogs and 30cm for Small dogs. A new height of Intermediate is also being introduced which will be 50cm.
The Lower Height Option will no longer be available, and therefore all dogs must jump one of the four measured heights.
While many members of the agility community may have wished for this change to take effect from 1 January 2019, it was considered necessary to defer the implementation of the new height regulations until 2020.
This ensures that as soon as shows are able to start scheduling Intermediate classes, there will be dogs able to compete in them. As one of the aims of the current changes to agility is to slow down progression through the grades, it was felt that it would not be prudent to introduce a new height that would have small class entries to begin with.
How does this affect your dog?
Any owners/handlers who wish to run their dog in the Intermediate height will be required to get their dog measured to determine if it falls in to the new height category. Measurements may be undertaken from now and any dog measured into Intermediate before 1 January 2020 may continue to compete in Large until 1 January 2020.
If any dog competes in Large from 1 January 2020, it will not have the option to be measured into Intermediate in the future.
New dogs competing from 1 January 2020 will be required to undergo the measurement process to determine in what height to compete.
The Lower Height Option will remain available until 1 January 2020.