Sunday, January 15, 2012

Obstacle colors on agility equipment

Warning...short rant

I was at a USDAA trial this weekend.  The club had a break away tire--good for them.  However, the tire was striped, dark red and dark blue, with a dark red frame. 

The design of the tire started to get my attention when I noticed a large number of dogs faulting the tire.  So, I watched the ring that had the tire in it.  Depending on where the tire was placed, the faults would rise.  When the dogs were jumping through the tire and the tire blended with the background colors, the faults were even higher.

From a dog's point of view red is seen as brown'ish, blue can be seen in a truer form. So, next to the indoor arena dirt, is this tire really standing out enough for dogs to be able to judge what they need to judge?

Now, I am not a trouble maker if I can avoid it, nor do I want to get involved in political battles, but this became very important to me when one of my dogs head planted into the bottom of the tire (when it was against a non-contrasting background).  He saw it too late!!  He has never crashed a tire in his life.

I do believe that it is the handlers job to train the tire, and I have done that with all my dogs.  None of my dogs typically fault the tire and I tend to handle very conservatively around the tire.  That is to say, no blind crosses, no front crosses if I can avoid it.  So, this commentary isn't about handling the tire.

I am trying to bring this issue to the club's attention!  Put contrasting colors on your tire!

In researching (to make sure my facts were straight) dog's vision I came across several articles which you may find interesting. 

Interesting articles on what dogs see…
Several articles in Clean Run, Jan 2009 and Feb 2009 on dogs and their vision.

What I also discovered and found a little disturbing is that at least in the "bigger" venues (USDAA and AKC), none of them have color or contrasting color requirements on the tire (or any other obstacle).  Really?  Interesting and to their credit, DOCNA did

 Now most clubs and tires that I have seen tend to be contrasting colors, but there is no regulation to govern contrasting color hence making this tire illegal.  Are we confortable with dangerous?

"It should be wrapped in several contrasting colors to make it very visible to the dog"

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