Tugging for Competition – Bad Dog Agility Academy

Tugging for Competition

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  • Ed Minar says:

    Hand touch is good idea — do you think it helps avoid rushiing down the ending line and possibly skipping obstacles?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      Yes, I think it could help (but there’s no guarantee). Dogs that skip the end obstacles and head straight for the leash (or exit looking for their reward they know has been placed near the exit) need to be proofed against this in the training field. Your dog should be able to do obstacles with toys and food bowls and leashes lying around on the ground, or being thrown through the air, and choose to come to you for some hand touches and their actual reward. Build up to this slowly, although for objects on the ground, sometimes it’s easier to have multiple objects right away so the dog can’t fixate on one object to “steal” as a reward.

  • Ed Minar says:

    Great demo, really helpful (maybe for aspirational goals!). All this is legal in AKC, correct?

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      Yes. There are two areas to be careful about:
      1) What your leash is made of. If you have a leash that has fleece woven through, you are pushing the limits of what a judge will allow.
      2) The time you take, if they are ready for you and you are taking too long to unleash and leash your dog, you are pushing the limits of what a judge will allow.

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      Yes, tugging on your leash as you enter the ring is legal. In addition, you can now carry your leash with you during your run as long as it can fit entirely into your pocket without being visible! This increases the value of leash tugging.

      • Ed Minar says:

        That sounds really good! But I couldn’t find that explicitly in AKC regs. Are you sure?

        • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

          If you’re referring to running with the leash in your pocket, this is an adjustment for trials during the COVID19 pandemic. So it’s a new rule and will likely go away at some point:


          • Ed Minar says:

            Perfect, thank you! I think this is pretty neat. Here also from Agility: Suggested Best Practices for the Well-Being of Dog Sport Participants, pdf on the AKC website:

             Leash Runner – Can either use and then dispose of a paper towel to handle each leash, or can
            apply hand sanitizer between handling of each leash or use a “grabber”. If using a grabber,
            wipe down between leashes. Note – For the rest of 2020 exhibitors may place leashes in their
            pockets or wear them when running the course. Leash must fully fit in pocket.

        • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

          I did also find this for FEO (this was before the COVID rules):


          What toys are not allowed in FEO? Lasers, flirt poles, chuck-it balls, toys on long ropes that are being tossed/dragged with the handler holding the end are not permitted.

          –> Handlers may not run with their leash & use as a toy. Leashes must be left at the start. <-- Please see pictures for what “balls” are allowed in FEO.

        • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

          Here is the official ruling on leashes in terms of material, this is why I advise caution and we teach our dogs to tug with real leashes – not fleece braided leashes:


          A leash may not have excess material dangling from it, nor may it have any attachments including a fleece or leather wrap. The leash may have a single pick-up bag and/or identification tag attached to it.

          • moscacaroline@yahoo.com says:

            Good to know, I use braided fleece leashes for my dogs, but haven’t tried tugging yet in trials so there have been no issues.

        • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

          I can’t find anything else in the rules that explicitly permits OR denies tugging on the leash. I can tell you that we’ve done it for years at all levels of competition, WITH A REAL LEASH (not a braided toy-like leash), and have never been questioned.

          I searched the regulations for every mention of leash (34 instances) and tug (zero instances).

  • Stan says:

    Won’t the dog bite through the leash? What kind of leash do you use?

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