Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Artificial Turf for Agility

Artificial turf is becoming very popular in the US with dog agility.  Really who can blame us?  It isn't as dusty as the dirt arena's and the surface in terms of the smooth factor can be much more predictable.  After my foot injury last year it was certainly easier on my foot to have that predictable surface.

But, is this surface an improvement over other dog agility surfaces?

I was in a conversation the other day with a non-agility person.  We were talking about a recent trial and I was commenting that I was surprised that my dogs slipped on the artificial turf.  This person mentioned that artificial turf for human sports has not been without controversy in regard to injury.

For human sports such as American Football and Soccer, the risk of injury is much higher than on natural grass.  Also, specifically the risk of ACL injury was higher. 

The following article states why the risk of injury is higher.  again, just mentioning the same information,
Here is video of two of my runs where a slip was caught on film.  Tip had the worse slip of the two.  Slips happen from time to time on every surface, but if I ran my dog on this every day the chances are good that they would get hurt at some point.

 I am not saying that I think this surface is evil.  I am not saying that I will never run my dogs on this surface.  I am simply trying to bring to light the possibility that this surface isn't nirvana and isn't "better" than the other choices.  It is simple different and brings risks of it's own.

For me, it makes me more aware that I should vary the surfaces that the dogs run on (cross training as part of the argument) and be aware to not exclusively run on artificial turf.
In general I do feel like my dogs run better (faster) on these surfaces, but is that a good thing?

I would love to hear people's comments on their experiences.