Reintroduced to NADAC

Calera Oklahoma was friggin’ cold, and wet, and windy. I did six days of NADAC judging clinic… three mixed classroom/ practical and three practicing judging under NADAC rules for a Fun Raiser trial. I’ve learned heaps and have a lot of notes to sort through.

I’m happy to be home. I left early on Thanksgiving day and now it’s well into December. I especially regret that I didn’t get the haircut I needed about a week before I started the trip. Did I mention that Calera was windy?

Never have I maintained much of a bias for or against any agility venue. You know, it’s all rock ‘n roll to me. With that in mind I find NADAC to be pragmatic and forward-thinking and probably apart from any venue subscribing to the so-called “international standard” for the sport. I say “apart” and intend not to mince words here. This is not the same game as played in the USDAA, TDAA, or AKC. NADAC is founded on a thoughtful sensitivity for safety and fairness to the dog both in the design of courses and in the construction of equipment.

Course design is intuitive. And everything is about speed and flow. You know, the reason I even attended this clinic is because I’ve wanted from the beginning to make my boy Kory’s introduction to the sport of agility in NADAC. I want him to understand from the very beginning that agility is about working at full speed.

As to construction standards… if there is any one thing that has permanently switched in my brain is that contact obstacles should have a rubber surface; (yah, I reckon a NADAC person reading this would be wondering why I’ve been retarded on the point). To tell you the truth, Sharon Nelson did about a 15 minute demonstration on a full-height A-frame with a young pup who’d not been previously introduced to the obstacle. Here was a young dog wiggling around and moving with complete confidence and control on a surface that without the rubber would have had the dog scrabbling his toe-nails against a harder surface and feeling out of control. With the rubber surface the dog was completely nonplussed and in control.

In terms of distance training and handling and directional control of the dog NADAC players are far superior to players in any other venue in this country. I’m sorry, that sounds like quite a preposterous claim based as it is on a nearly insignificant statistical sampling. Given the amazing distance handling I saw this past weekend… I believe it right down to my bones.

The Cultish NADAC

So over the past week little NADAC myth bubbles have been popping left and right for me. It’s funny, if you keep hearing a thing it begins to resonate as a truth. A big one for me is the notion that competition in NADAC is “whatever’s in front of you is right!” (meaning the next obstacle). Well, that one ain’t true for sure. NADAC course design is proud to offer options and discriminations… and with the dog working at full-tilt rather than at a gathered pace.

Some of my favorite students around the country, by the way, are huge NADAC fans. I regret teasing them over time about their starry-eyed affection for the venue; but remember that I’ve been influenced by prevalent myths. I see in retrospect what draws them to my teaching. I teach handling skills complimentary to NADAC… giving information to a dog working at full speed.

League Game 12-10-09 – Power & Speed

I got a phone call yesterday from one of our TDAA judges (Holly, down in Georgia) wanting clarification on how to play the game Power & Speed. I believe I talked her through it. But after the call I decided to put this game up for our weekly league game. The fun part about this game—for the purposes of agility training—is that the performance of the contact obstacles in the Power section of the game goes untimed. That means the handler can make a big show of training with the dog and set a standard of care in the dog’s performance which should last the entire night (of training). I am personally of the belief that it is the handler’s own panic and rush that erodes solid contact performances in this sport.

Oh, and I was really working very hard on the design of this game to give sweeping transitional distances between the obstacles… creating for myself an intellectual puzzle in which I limited myself to 3,000 square feet of floor space for a 14 obstacle  jumping sequence. And yet, I managed to provide pretty much 20′ on average between obstacles.

Note that this is not a TDAA course. In Teacup the transitional distances between obstacles would be nearly half of what is required for big dogs.

Power and Speed

Power and speed, a British import game, is the Irondog competition of dog agility games. The game demonstrates the ability of the handler to exercise tight control (power) through a part of the course, then show loose control (speed) over another part of the course.


The course is split into two sections Power and Speed.

  1. The Power section is mostly comprised of contact obstacles, the weaves poles, and possibly hurdles and tunnels. The goal of this side is to have the handler negotiate his dog through the course without faulting. There is maximum time in which the dog must finish this part of the course. If you complete the Power section with no faults, under the established time, you are allowed to continue to the Speed section. There is no score on the power side other than to qualify to go on. [For the purpose of league play, we will forgo the death penalty fault… any fault earned in the Power section will become 5 faults added to the jumpers/speed section.]
  2. The Speed section contains a straight forward jumping course. Here the scoring is on a time plus faults basis.


Scoring Power and Speed comes from the speed side only. Thus, if dog one ran the power side in 40 seconds and the speed side in 35, his total score is 35 seconds. If dog two ran the power side in 30 seconds and the speed side in 36 seconds, his total score would be 36 seconds. Dog one would win, even though dog two’s power side, (and consequently his total time) was faster.

Power and Speed is judged time plus faults in the Speed section since in order to get through to this section you must complete the Power section fault free.

  • The class is scored on a time plus faults basis—lowest score wins.
  • Refusals are faulted as are dropped bars and missed contacts.
  • Maximum course time is 2 minutes. If the course is not completed within maximum time, the dog and handler are eliminated.
  • The first section of the course—obstacles #1 through #5—is not timed. However, a handler will earn a 5-second time fault for any mistake. If, for example, a dog misses the up contact on the A-frame his score would be 5 for the first part of the course—obviously, the ideal score for #1 through #5 is 0.
  • The timekeeper will start the stopwatch at jump #1 (white circle numbers) and stop it after jump #14. Any faults earned in the first part of the course are added to this time. Suppose the dog that missed the A-frame contact ran #1 through #14 in 17.2 seconds. His final score would be 22.2 seconds.

1 Corinthians 15:10

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Just For Fun Agility Notebook #30 available on the Country Dream Web Store.


Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses to “Reintroduced to NADAC”

  1. Ronni Says:

    While I can appreciate the technical handling of the “international standard” courses, nothing takes my breath away like watching excellent NADAC handlers working the bonus line. I know I’m not alone because the arena goes quiet when the teams walk out on to the course.

    I compete in NADAC because my All American wasn’t welcome in AKC. He’s a bit of a velcro dog, and would have been better suited to AKC courses, but over the past 3 years of NADAC competitions he’s learned to do some distance. Now I even look forward to the “Elite Chances” class that I used to dread! Although AKC is changing their rules regarding All Americans, it’s too little too late for my boy, who will soon need to be retired.

  2. Barbara and The Symphony of Hounds Says:

    The rubber contacts also would provide a lot more traction and relief in the teeter in the ‘bounceback’ physics of the board.

    The hounds start out running a nice teeter, then, after they are experienced and can predict that is going to be uncomfortable, they start ‘walking’ the teeter very carefully. I watch LOTS of dogs do this over time, normal dogs that is, not the suicidal ones that will take any obstacle at any angle and any speed if the handler presents it!

    Something I have observed my last 3 puppies (Leilah and Holly are now 13 months! Yikes! and JJ is now 5 months) is they got introduced to contacts on the softer surface (and smaller size of course!), then I accidentally gave them a 4′ x8′ (standard sheet size) of thick, smooth, plywood angled up to an 8′ table in the barn, and they love to “play” on this by running up the side of it, NOT to get on the table, but to SLIDE or run back down it in an arc, reminds me a bit of what skateboarders do in those big rampy things.

    They are so clearly confident about moving, wiggly and slick angled surfaces now, that they feel like they have total grip on the rough or rubber surfaces! The key of course, is that the dog has positive experience with the traction surface, THEN has exposure and experience with the slick surface, then when we go back to the traction surface, they feel totally in control of their feet.

    This is much like working reining horses in very thick, “stickier” footing for schooling sliding, then, when the horse competes in a normal show arena, to him, the footing is thin and easy and he feels like he can skate over top of it, and you get better slides!

    The “accidental” part, by the way, is that I had stored the plywood sheet next to the table, the dogs knocked into it and it slid a bit so it was leaning on the table, one side ‘caught’ in the groove of what was a dairy aisle, and they have been playing on it ever since!

    Anway, I hope the rubber catches on with other venues!

    Barbara and The Symphony of Hounds

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: