Agility Competition Etiquette ~ by Karen Coggan

When dealing with anyone at any ADAA event, we should all remember that we are all volunteers and are not being paid for our time in any way. Therefore, we should all possess competition etiquette or good manners.

I shall start with competition entries. When filling out your entry form details, please ensure you mark on the correct event number with the correct height of your dog. If you are in a pairs or team event, please ensure to write down the name of your other partner/s. Many a time competition secretaries will receive entry forms from different people with different partner/s names on them.

For example; Jo Bloggs who owns Carter is paired up with Millie Johnson and her dog Alex on his form, however on Millie’s form she has paired up with Chelsea Black and her dog Oprah. The competition secretary then has to take time out to try and establish which one is actually correct, and then try to match up the lone dog.

So in short, please take care when filling out your entry forms and think of the poor soul who has to spend hours putting this information into a readable format for competitions. This saves time on competition day, due to errors being minimised. Also, by getting your entries in early or on time, allows the competition secretary sufficient handling time to prevent such problems.

From here, we go competition day. It is now 2.30pm and the competition starts at 3.00pm. You are about 30mins drive away and you have not left home yet. What do you do? Common sense should prevail and you should be making a call either to the mobile number on the schedule, or to another member of your club who you know is at the competition, to notify the host club that you are running late. Or, if you decide you are unable to attend on the day of competition, again the same policy should apply, call and advise. Many a time I have sat on the Scribes table and have been chasing competitors for their run, only to be advised that no one has seen them yet that day so they can only guess that they are not turning up. By letting the clubs know as far in advance as you can, it alleviates the problem of searching for competitors on the day if you already know they will not be there. It also gives the competition secretaries time to reshuffle running orders if need be.

The same common courtesy applies to withdrawing dogs on the day. If you do need to withdraw your dog, speak to someone from the host club, or to the scribe table during a course change. The Scribes/Scorekeepers are willing to help you, so long as you help them by not interrupting them whilst they are watching a dog run. The hardest events to watch and keep score on are Gamblers, Snooker, Teams and Pairs events, and any game that requires adding up by the table. Usually, there will be one person in the ring with the judge writing down the figures, and the person left sitting on the table has to add up the scores. These are checked later by a third person, however, if left alone, it makes it a much easier job to get it right first time, again alleviating errors, and making sure that the correct handler gets the correct points, especially when there is a desperate need for a Quali card.

If, at any time, you are not sure of whom to approach at a competition, check with one of your own club members. Many of us have been around the traps for a while, and will do all possible to make your competition day as hassle free as possible. I have had cases in the past where competitors did have to pull out a dog and were not sure who to speak to so they left the competition without letting anyone know. In the end it was left for the table to try and find them. Needless to say this is very distracting and frustrating for those trying to keep an eye on the dog that is running, as well as trying to find a lost competitor.

Still on competition day, on arrival at the competition if the ring is a not already set up, jump in and lend a hand. Many hands make light work and the sooner things get built, the sooner the competition starts, the sooner we get home.

Check the running order boards and keep an eye on the ring changes. Make sure that you are lined up ready to go with your collar off etc. If you have to move up or down the order, ensure that the table is aware of the change and that they are marking the results for the correct dog.

Keep in mind your judges. They stand out in the middle of the ring regardless of the weather, and concentrate for several hours on end. Without them there would be no competitions, therefore no agility. They do it all in their own time, and are the only job satisfaction is watching the dogs go clear. Remember to take time to thank them for a job well done.

Check with the host club if there is any other way you can help on the day, i.e. scribing, score keeping, marshalling, assisting judges with ring changes etc. If you do not run a dog and just come to watch, the scribe table is a great place to learn and watch at the same time. This is how I spent my first two years at agility and I have had the time of my life, making new friends by working with different people, picking up running tips by watching the dogs compete, and being able to give encouragement and congratulations to competitors. If everyone sat at the table for just one event, the clubs would not struggle to find helpers, and competitors would find a new appreciation for the sport and maybe learn a thing or two. By lending that extra helping hand, the night will run faster. The club you are at may not be your home club, but by helping out at other clubs, they will in turn help you. What goes around comes around.

At the finish of competition, jump up and help pack up the equipment. This is usually the time when the judges and the organisers of the host club are busy preparing for your presentations. By assisting at this time, it shares the burden of having to pack equipment away and makes the packing process go faster. If everyone who attended every competition put away at least one piece of equipment, it essentially should take about 5 minutes to pack up one ring. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It is a lot to think about and a lot to take in. Coming up in the next few months are many double-header competitions, especially in South East Queensland, and preparations for the Grand Prix in October. If we all try to put my suggestions into practice, is should make for much smoother competing days, and enjoyable times for all with their dogs and agility friends. Not only that, but we would have more time to socialise after the events of the day are over. What a wonderful world it could be.

Karen Coggan

Karen’s girl – Allie AAD – enjoying a comptition.