Some agility terms you need to know


According to the agility rules - refusal is a long hesitation (indecision) of an animal in front of an obstacle, turning back after approaching it, running past an obstacle, which is going to be performed, or performing an obstacle against the agility rules. The refusal line should be designated as a line, crossing the upper boundary of the ascending (contact) zone of an obstacle, except for the cases where the refusal line, according to the standards, is located differently. The refusal line remains invisible (inactive) as long as the judge decides that the dog has begun approaching this obstacle.

As to the contact obstacles there are the following rules: The refusal plane is limited to the top edge of the contact zone on the ascending plank. Fig. 1 shows the refusal plane of the contact obstacles. (Skipping the refusal plane should not be counted as an infraction.)

Agility Refusal Clarification

  • For the A-frame and Dogwalk: jumping off the obstacles prior to touching the descending plank with a paw is considered a refusal. If the dog has left an obstacle before beginning to descent the down plank, it will be counted a refusal. However, once a dog has touched the down plank with any part of one paw, then left an obstacle before reaching the contact zone; it is a missed contact, not a refusal.

  • On a seesaw: If the dog has left an obstacle prior to the pivot point a refusal will be incurred. Once a dog has passed the pivot point, touching the surface with any part of one paw, then left an obstacles prior to the contact area, it is counted as a missed contact, not a refusal. Leaving the obstacles when descending, with all four paws, before plank has touched the ground, constitutes as an early fly-off. If the dog decided to jump off the plank before it reaches the ground, and, thus, skipping the contact area, it will be penalized for one fault.

When does the refusal zone become active? And whether the refusal will be counted if a dog spins around the obstacle, hesitates, or deviates from the path?

The refusal plane of a jump

The refusal plane of a jump (barrier) crosses its plane. It becomes active only once, when a dog starts approaching the obstacle. On the Fig. 2 there are cases, in which this zone becomes active. The refusal is considered only when a dog has crossed the refusal plane (line) immediately at the obstacle.

Agility Refusal Clarification

The distance between two obstacles is divided into 3 sections:

  • 1st section - dog landing or completing the previous obstacle. A refusal cannot be counted until the dog is in this first section of a distance.

  • 2nd section - a space in the middle between two obstacles. Only a significant deviation from the line on the way to the next obstacle can be considered a as refusal.

  • Section 3 - final approach to the next obstacle. In this section any circling, indecision or deviation off the path is counted as a refusal.

On the Fig. 3 there is a slight deviation in the middle section in the first case with alignment at the barrier (3), which is not a refusal, in the second case there is a refusal with a significant deviation.

Agility Refusal Clarification

Continuous hesitation means "a long delay, which the judge announced long in time.

Front Cross

When handler changes from one side of a dog to the other or initiates/maintains a turn in its path, being in front of the running dog, turning into it. Performing this change, handler should always keep running ahead of a dog and even after the change he has to stay beside or ahead of an animal. To avoid a collision, handler should not stop or slow down the run, staying at a distance from the dog’s path.

Blind Cross

Handler outruns and effects a change of sides by rotating away from the dog or taking his eyes off the animal at this moment. For the successful implementation of the blind cross, handler should have a small head start, being a few steps ahead of the running dog. Otherwise, dog may provoke a fall, pushing handler on his knees.

Rear Cross

It is a handling manipulation, which allows a handler to change sides or initiate/maintain a turn in the dog’s path, running behind the running animal. At the rear cross handler must remain behind the running dog even after the maneuver. This change is frequently used on the zig-zag paths.

Reverse Flow Pivot

(“Lead Out Pivot” or “Layering”, if obstacles are tightly clustered) – when dog runs or jumps out from under the handler’s arm in the specified direction. In this change handler may change his position relative to the dog. To execute this maneuver successfully, handler should be with a well-trained animal, performing his commands and gestures thoroughly, and should control his speed making this pivot, to avoid trampling on the dog. Reverse Flow Pivot is very effective on turns, when you need to change the direction in seconds.

In general, all these changes allow handler to stay on the shorter (inner) path of the course. They substantially reduce the course travel time, save strengths, help to keep the dog at a reasonable distance and save against the extra faults.

To make a clear run, you have to analyze the course within the moments before the competition.

In order to save time:

  • try to memorize, to learn by rote the order of obstacles on the ring in the course of their sequence. Size up the course - if it is simple, spacious, dense or overdone, long or shortened, contains difficult turns between the obstacles or not. You will need to draw straight lines between each pair of obstacles, curves (if the course is zigzagged), turns in the opposite direction, for 270°, and pinwheels. After a careful study your subconsciousness will eventually go over and guide you through the route correctly.

  • define the places where you need to show the dog the next maneuver in advance, allowing it to adapt the speed for its implementation. Your main purpose is to show the change of direction so that the dog could turn, then "land", not the opposite.

Pictures source: Refusal Clarification for WAO