The Economics of the Agility Training Center

When I was in Calera, Oklahoma for the NADAC judges training Sharon Nelson engaged in about a 15 minute demonstration of rubberized contacts. She took a completely green dog that had never been on an A-frame and basically stirred him around on the plank of the full-height A-frame; up and down, back and forth, and around in cute little circles.

I learn by empirical experience. I have to see the proof of a thing before I’ll believe it. And, you know, I’ve seen tens of thousands of agility performances. It was clear to me from that one little demonstration that the rubberized contact is just about the only way to go for the dog’s safety and confidence. You know it’s a funny thing, if a dog feels out of control on a contact obstacle he’ll try to grip with his nails which exactly the wrong thing to do on a slick hard surface. We’ve all seen and heard the out-of-control dog scrabbling against an A-frame contact with his nails. But on this comfortable rubber surface the novice dog’s feet relaxed back so that he comfortably moved around on the pads of his feet. It was awesome.

Finally today I got on the phone with Teresa at I tallied up the precut parts to cover two dogwalks, a teeter, an A-frame, and a table. According to my calculations it comes up to 380.00ish, and that doesn’t include shipping. Nor does the quote include the 5 gal drum of contact cement; and nevermind labor… that’ll be me (which means that it’s free?)

So I’m muddling through where to get the cash for this transaction, or at the very least how I can place the order without telling Marsha. Oh heck, she’ll have time enough to find out about it when the rolls of rubber arrive.

Running a training center is a heck of a notion, financially. I’ve got about $100K in the building, maybe $10K in equipment; another $10K in the flooring. Most of this is being serviced by mortgage debt. After I sold my old training center I bought this property and all its standing structures outright. So at least those don’t weigh on us financially. There are routine costs associated with running such a property that aren’t always that obvious, including utilities, road maintenance, landscaping, and repairs on standing fixtures. Lordy, it all starts to add up.

I’m a piker compared to what some enterprising souls have committed to get in the dog training game. But I’ve moved (in what I keep calling my semi-retirement) to a part of the world that was hurting economically long before the Bush Depression started. And so we might have people inquire about obedience or agility lessons who’ll balk at the notion of paying $8 an hour for a couple months of training. It boggles the mind.

And yet, I remind myself, this life beats the hell out of working for a living, (no sarcasm or irony intended.)

Bud’s Trivia Corner

In what activity are you engaged if you are holding pictures of King David, Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great in your hands?

First correct answer posted as a reply to this blog post wins a free copy of the February Distance Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

12 Responses to “The Economics of the Agility Training Center”

  1. Mary Anne G. Says:

    You’re playing cards (possibly poker, holding 4 of a kind).

    • budhouston Says:

      Hi Mary Anne G.

      It looks like you win, as the replies are time-stamped. If you’ll send me your email address (send to me at… I’ll send you a free copy of the February Distance Notebook.

      By the way… you could be holding the entire deck in your hand. Any answer about poker or playing cards would have been correct.

      As to the answers having to do with coins as a correct answer. I might surely have had to accept that answer even though it was unknown to me. However none of the “coin” responses were more timely than your guess.

      Bud Houston

  2. Sarah Says:

    Thanks for this interesting post about the economics behind training centers!

    The four men you mention were traditionally considered to be represented by the Kings in the 52-card deck of Anglo-American playing cards: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs, respectively. So hopefully you’re playing some game where 4 of a kind will net you the win!

  3. Laura, Lance, and Vito Says:

    aww I hoped I would be first! playing cards , you have 4 kings!

  4. Nancy Hoffman Says:

    You are playing cards, and have 4 kings

  5. Nancy Hoffman Says:

    I LOVE rubber contacts, I only wish USDAA with use them along with NADAC.

  6. Deb Says:

    coin collecting?

  7. Deb Says:

    aaaahhhhhttt….. POKER! lol

  8. Deb Says:

    I’m back with the answer coin collecting, although those kings are on cards, specifically the kings.

    So it looks like you have *two* correct answers. (Depends on your definition of correct, no?)

    My backup documentation:
    1962 Israeli Gold 100 Shekels Coin
    1962 Unofficial fantasy pattern gold 100 Shekel coin of Israel, featuring King David
    A coin of Charlemagne’s with the inscription KAROLVS IMP AVG (“Carolus Imperator Augustus”)
    …10 different coins shown
    Alexander the Great coins… gold, silver, bronze hemiobol

  9. Ricky Says:

    Playing cards and holding 4 kings!

  10. Stefan Elvstad Says:

    We converted a dogwalk and an A-frame last fall. Instead of gluing the rubber matting, we used a staple gun and placed staples roughly every two inches about 1/4 inch from the edge. This avoided the mess, expense and safety issues with contact cement. The equipment has been through trials and is also used in multiple training classes each week. So far, stapling the matting has held up without any problem.

  11. Nora Says:

    Local AKC clubs have been using contacts covered with rubber granules for quite some time. Not exactly the same as rubber mats, but similar, and it certainly prevents the scrabbling, is quieter, and makes a nice surface for the dogs. I don’t think it’s disallowed in USDAA, but I haven’t run in to any clubs/trials who are using it.

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