Agility Rule Clarifications Back »

Elizabeth Droke, the Agility Committee Chair for the South Dakota 4-H Dog project, shares these reminders and clarifications about the agility discipline.

Reminders from the Published Rulebook

  • Female dogs in season are not permitted to compete at any level (county, regional, or state).
  • If a dog comes into season during county achievement days, arrangements can be made to show at another county when the female dog is not in season.
  • Intact male dogs will be run at the end of their respective class (last) at the state show.

Jump heights are based on the dog’s height at the top of the shoulders (withers).

A dog should be measured by a project leader when beginning agility, so that the dog and handler practice jumping at the correct jump height.

A dog found to have jumped at a lower than required height may be asked by the judge to rerun the course at the correct height.

Dog’s Height Height of Jump
Under 10 inches 4 inches
10—14 inches 8 inches
14—20 inches 12 inches
Over 20 inches 16 inches

The following changes are being implemented at BOTH the county and state shows.

1. NO Jump height exemptions or exceptions will be allowed, because the jump heights are already lowered to accommodate for the various breeds. This is for the safety of the dogs.

  • If your dog is struggling to jump the correct jump height due to joint issues, age, or weight, then for the long term health and safety of the dog it should not be competing in agility.
  • A veterinarian’s note indicating that a dog with one of the above issues is approved to do agility will NOT be accepted. We have been given ‘notes’ on dogs that are clearly not capable (and show it by refusing, limping, bunny hopping, breathing hard etc) of going over jumps or the A-frame.
  • The main goal of the dog project is to teach responsible dog ownership. Forcing a dog that is struggling to compete or is refusing to do obstacles is not being a responsible owner.

2. Muzzles fall into the category of a head halter and are not permitted on dogs when running agility.

  • As stated in the rules, dogs that are reactive to either humans or other dogs may be excused if show personnel or the judge deem safety is an issue.

3. Pause Table Performance

  • From now on, performance on the pause table will be either a sit or a down, the handler’s choice.  The sit or down must be performed for the same count of 5.
  • Judging of pause table performance
    • These changes are being made as many of the shows, including the state show, are outside and a tabletop can heat up. It is also being made to help stop behaviors by  4-Hers that are not consistent with being a responsible dog owner.
    • Physically touching the dog to put it into a sit or down will result in immediate excusal and a white ribbon. Handlers are NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH the dog. There have been too many instances, including at the state show, of handlers jerking their dog’s legs out from underneath them or pushing/throwing the dog down on the table. This is unacceptable behavior for 4-H and will no longer be allowed in agility.
    • Count is 5 and 4 and 3 and 2 and 1 and go. The count begins when a dog either sits or lays down.
      • On/Off Leash – if dog gets up, the count resumes where it was left off
      • Advanced/Excellent – if dog gets up, the count restarts from the beginning.
    • Lack of a sit or down will result in a table fault of 25 points.
    • The handler will have 3 attempts to get the dog into a sit or a down. This will be judged as physical and/or verbal cues asking the dog to sit or down.
    • EACH tug of the leash for those on leash will result in a 5 point fault, in addition to any other faults.
    • Getting onto the table and off before the count has begun = 5 point fault
    • Leaving the table before the judge has said Go = 5 point fault
    • Change of position from a sit to down or down to sit = 5 point fault
    • Faults are additive, there is no maximum.
  • Examples: These are only table faults and do not include possible time faults that may occur. That is calculated at the end with other obstacle faults that may have incurred to get the total number of faults incurred.
    • Example #1: On Leash
      • Dog gets on table, handler uses one tug/jerk on leash to get dog to sit, dog remains for count.
      • Faults = 5
    • Example #2: On Leash
      • Dog jumps on table, then jumps off and handler uses two tugs/jerks on leash to get dog to down, dog remains for count.
      • Faults = 5 (on and off) + 10 (2 tugs on leash) = 15 faults
    • Example #3: On Leash
      • Dog gets on table, handler tugs on leash 3 times trying to get dog into a down. Dog does not lie down.
      • After the 3rd leash tug and no down, judge will ask handler to move on.
      • Faults = 5 per leash tug = 15 + 25 for no down = 40 faults
    • Example #4: Advanced or Excellent
      • Dog gets on table, handler gives two cues to sit (combined hand signal and sit command are one cue), dog sits and remains for count.
      • Faults = 0
    • Example #5: Advanced or Excellent
      • Dog gets on table, handler gives three cues to lie down and dog does not lie down.
      • Judge asks handler to move on.
      • Faults = 25 for no down
    • Example #6: Advanced or Excellent
      • Dog jumps on table and jumps off, handler gives two cues to sit, dog sits and then lays down, remains for the count
      • Faults = 5 (on and off) + 5 (change of position) = 10

4. Time allowed for whole course

  • Times remain as indicated in the rule book.
  • IF the judge deems the temperature/humidity may be a factor involved on the day of the show, times can be flexible. Up to 20 seconds can be added for On/Off Leash and Advanced. Excellent is more about obstacle training and some advanced handling so time is not a big factor. Three attempts per obstacle still applies though.
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