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A tale of two organisations

Agility started in Australia in 1984. Within two years it had become a national sport. After some trial and error, a very Australian type of agility was developed, overseen by the Australian National Kennel Control (ANKC). Then in 1994 a second organisation, the Agility Dog Association of Australia (ADAA), emerged. It introduced a new, more international-style of agility. Steve Drinkwater, co-founder of ADAA and editor of Clean Run Australia explains the differences.

At present the ANKC is by far the bigger organisation of the two. It holds many times more Agility trials per year in every major capital city and many dozens of country towns throughout Australia.

About the ANKC
Agility is probably the fastest growing sport within the ANKC organisation. In all States throughout Australia, the non-pedigree dog can participate in ANKC Agility, except for in the State of Queensland and Tasmania. In both states, only a pedigree dog with papers can enter Obedience, Agility, Tracking and Field-work with gun dogs.

A club must be affiliated with the ANKC and its State Canine Control Council to hold an official ANKC Agility Trial for titles. Membership regulations varies from State to State. Normally membership costs between $30.00 and $50.00 (Australian dollars) a year and each state publishes it's own monthly magazine. The magazines are gloss high quality with a lean towards Obedience and Showing, they tend not to have too much information on Agility training and articles of interest to the Agility enthusiast, but they do have entry information on upcoming Agility trials.

Entry fees to an ANKC Agility Trial vary from between $5.00 and $8.00 Australian per class. The large capital cities like Sydney can attract up to 120 entries. In general, the average entry Australia wide would be around 50 dogs.

It is very popular and is continually undergoing change in a direction towards the International style. It offers three levels of difficulty and three titles to try and achieve.

  • Novice is the easiest level and consists of two rounds with nine obstacles. Three clean runs at Novice level are required for the title Agility Dog (AD).
  • Open is the next level, also consisting of two rounds but with an increase to 14 obstacles. Three clean runs at Open level are required for the title Agility Dog Excellent (ADX).
  • Masters is the hardest level. It is similar to International style Agility in that it has one round and 20 obstacles. Seven clean runs at Master level are required for the title Agility Dog Master (ADM).

The Standard Course Time (SCT), the time designated by the judge that dogs entered in a class have to complete that particular course, is usually determined by using a formula. Any dog that takes longer to finish the course than that set by the judge will incur time faults.

In ANKC Agility, all dogs - no matter their size - compete together with each competition at Novice and Open level being over two rounds. The first round is for qualifying certificates that are required for titles. The second round is for determining the winner. A Mini dog competes against a Maxi dog over the same course with lower bars but with the same Standard Course Time (SCT). The one compensation to try and even the scales is the fact that the Dog-walk has three separate contact colours, one for each size dog.

After two years of trial and error in New South Wales, the Australian National Kennel Control developed a very distinct domestic style of agility consisting of nine (9) obstacles of which the Table which had to be in the middle as obstacle No. 4, 5 or 6. They have different rules for judges, different size for equipment and only allow purebred dogs to enter competitions. All dogs, regardless of size, compete in the same class.

A significant difference between British and Australia agility ANKC-style is that the Weave Poles are faulted separately, i.e. each missed pole or incorrect entry is scored at five faults. If a dog misses three poles, for instance, it would be scored as 15 faults, but the dog could continue on the course without returning to re-attempt the missed pole(s).

Another ANKC invention is the 'handler exclusion zone' around the Weave Poles and Table. This is an area, often marked with chalk, into which a handler cannot step. There is a 500mm circle around the weave poles theoretically preventing the handler from getting too close to the poles and kneeing the dog. There is a 1m circle around the Table so that a handler cannot get near the dog when it in position on the table. Upon a Refusal by the dog, the Judge must verbally advise the handler. If the judge forgets to shout 'Refusal,' the dog can not be given the Refusal. ANKC Agility does not include Jumping courses or Novelty Events (Games) like Gamblers, Snooker, Clock-watchers, Helter Skelter etc.

The ADAA Motto: International Agility, the Global Dog Sport
The Agility Dog Association of Australia Ltd (ADAA) is smaller organisation than the ANKC, but it is growing in popularity. It is a totally separate and independent organisation. The ADAA governs and promotes an international style of agility and has very close ties with the International Agility Link (IAL).

Basically ADAA agility is similar to that practised in the UK and by the FCI countries throughout Europe as well as in the United States (USDAA) and Canada (AAC). All use the same equipment and have very similar rules of competition. The measurements are almost the same and a round consists of 15-20 obstacles. All dogs, pedigree or cross-breed, are eligible to compete. The main difference between the ADAA Agility rules and those used in the UK/FCI are that the ADAA has four separate classes for dogs, depending upon size, instead of three. There are:-

  • Toy
  • Mini
  • Midi
  • Maxi

There are two level of membership in the ADAA, Full or Associate. Full membership is required to be a Judge or to have voting rights within the organisation. Full membership cost $25.00 a year and includes a quarterly magazine dedicated to Agility. Associate membership costs a once off payment of $5.00 (Australian dollars) for a life time registration of the handlers and dog (s). An Associate member can not be a judge, has no voting rights and does not receive a free subscription to the ADAA magazine.

A typical ADAA competition will offer up to six (6)classes at any one competition for the Beginner handler/dog. Dogs with a SAAD or MAAD title are usually only eligible to enter three (3) classes on a day. Entry fees are, on average, $3.00 (Australian dollars) per class. In ADAA trails, unlike ANKC ones, Mini dogs compete against Mini dogs, and Midi dogs compete against other Midi dogs and so on.

There are four levels of difficulty called Standards within ADAA.

  • Elementary classes are simple and flowing, consisting of one round with between 15-20 obstacles. An Elementary class has no Weave Poles, no See-Saw and no Spread Hurdle.
  • Starters is similar to Elementary in course complexity but does include the Weave Poles. As with Elementary, there are no See-Saws or Spread Hurdles.
  • Novice uses all the obstacles and has an intermediate level of complexity within the course design. The rate of travel used to determine the SCT is also higher than Elementary or Starters.
  • Open is open to all dogs and has the highest degree of course complexity and rate of travel.

Novelty Events (Games) & Jumping Courses are not usually prefixed with Elementary or Starters and are usually held at Novice and Open Standard.

Agility Titles
As already mentioned, the ADAA offers a titling program to reward the progression of skill levels as you become proficient and in tune with your dog. The three titles are as follows:-

  • Australian Agility Dog (AAD) requires three (3) clean runs in Agility (not Jumping) at Elementary Standard plus one at Starters, Novice or Open Standard or two clean runs at Starters, Novice or Open Standard.
  • Senior Australian Agility Dog (SAAD) needs five (5) clean runs at Novice or Open Standard Agility and/or Jumping classes, with at least three of the clean runs being in Agility (can only have two in Jumping).
  • Master Australian Agility Dog (MAAD) calls for clean runs in Open Standard Agility/Jumping Tests (with at least two being Agility) and three qualifying certificates from any Open Standard Novelty Event (Game), not including Team/Pairs Events. with at least one being Gamblers.

Additional Achievement
ADAA will receive applications for the title MAAD2 after the name of each dog which already has gained the title MAAD and which shall be certified by at least two different judges to have subsequently gained six Clear Round certificates in Open Agility/Jumping Tests (with at least two being Agility) and Qualifying Certificates from any Open Standard Novelty Events, not including Team Events (with at least one being Gamblers).

Once a MAAD2 title has been achieved, a dog may then earn MAAD3, MAAD4 and so on. There is no limit to the recognition a MAAD dog can achieve. It would be possible, in theory, to achieve the title MAAD20.

G' day All

In Brisbane, two ADAA clubs hold cross country events, usually two or three times a year. Here's what happens after the barbie...

All day Saturday is Agility at a small country show ground. (Actually it's where they hold the rodeo, play footy and now Agility!).

Saturday Night/Sunday Morning
At night we all go to the local pub for one or two refreshments and a feed. Then it's back to the camp fire to talk about Agility, more agility and yet agility again. Most people camp overnight in tents.

Sunday morning... more agility. Come Sunday lunch, agility and the presentations are complete, and everybody has packed up their tent.

After another brew
We then move five minutes down the road to a Diary Farm, which is owned by one of the ADAA Board Directors. A Bar-B-Q is set up and waiting for us. We eat and have another cold ale. Then the Cross Country starts.

The Cross Country course is set away from the cattle, on the banks of the river under the willow trees. All the obstacles have been made/designed and set up over the many weeks leading up to the event. A typical course can be up to 500m long and will cross gullies and streams.

Some of the obstacles may include the Hay-frame, an A-frame made from bails of hay, a very large Tyre jumps made from big rear tractor tyres, Pipe tunnels joined together and placed in gullies and covered with natural sticks and leaves etc. or placed through the centre of the Hay-frame. There can be maze made from hay bails. You must direct your dog through the maze. If you direct your dog through the maze without entering the maze that is clear or if you have to enter the maze and direct your dog through the maze from within, you'll receive a penalty. There are also Hurdles with normal bars that can knocked, but the Hurdles have a farm look to them, i.e. wings made from wagon wheels or out of old tree logs.

It's all good fun, but you need to be fit. There is lots of running!

Footnote: To set the SCT, the judge needs to know the course length and the rate of travel they wish to use for the level of difficulty and the course complexity of that particular class. For example, the course length is 150 metres. The judge has decided on a rate of travel of 3.00 metres per second. The SCT would be 150 metres divided by 3, which equals 50 seconds. If a 5 second pause on the Table is required, then 5 seconds would be added to the SCT. Each second or part thereof over 50 seconds will be faulted. The aim of the game is to receive no course faults (knocking bars etc) or time faults.

About the author...
Steve Drinkwater
is co-founder and currently the Secretary for the Agility Dog Association of Australia Ltd (ADAA). He is also an agility judge.

Steve and his wife edit and publish Clean Run Australia, the down under version of its big brother Clean Run (USA). It is a specialist Agility magazine with a focus on training and course design. Articles include course analysis, handling strategies and much more. CRA has subscribers throughout both Australia and New Zealand.

Steve's most successful dog is Tommy AAD, a working Kelpie. He was second to Natalie Tunny and her Border Collie Nitro (9.26 secs.) in the 24-pole Weaves at the major Australian Grand Prix.

Steve can be contacted at Yunde Canine Enterprises, 85 Blackwall Road, Chuwar, Queensland, Australia. Tel. (+61) 7-3202 2361, fax. (+61) 7-3281 6872, email:

Australian rules
Liz Barker is interested in finding out if anyone else has a ruling similar to a couple of ours. I compete in ANKC agility in Australia where each state can then have their own individual rules (apart from the agility rule book) for conducting events.

Two of our state rules happen to be:-
1. A husband/wife/spouse can not enter under their partner when judging

2. A person can not enter under a judge if in the past 6 months they have paid that judge money for private or semi private lessons. This doesn't count if the person goes to a 'club' for instruction and a judge just happens to be their instructor for the night.



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