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Kansas 4-H Tip Sheet

November 15, 2018

New 2018-19 Dog Agility Closed Tunnel Specifications

Submitted by Deryl E. Waldren

Effective October 1, 2018, there is a mandatory change to the specifications of the Dog Agility Closed Tunnel, currently used in all levels of 4-H agility. Rather than a long chute attached to the end of the barrel, the sheet should be hemmed so that it is no more than 6 inches longer than the height of the barrel or frame. For example, on a barrel of 24” in diameter, the sheet will be no more than 30”. These changes are in effect for the 2018-19 4-H year. Judges must still incorporate this obstacle where mandatory as described in the “Agility Dog Show Rule Book, page 4.” Visit: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/S124.pdf.

The purpose of canine agility is to provide an opportunity for teams to compete in a fun activity that challenges both the dog and 4-H’er. Different obstacles and courses present unique tests of speed, confidence, technical skills, athleticism, balance, communication, attentiveness, distance, and directional control. The task as 4-H leaders is to incorporate all these elements while still maintaining a fun safe environment for the dogs and handlers. There has been concern about the safety of the “Closed” or “Chute Tunnel” due to the potential for fast moving dogs to become entangled in the length of sheet they must push through to exit. To remove this risk while still providing the same variety of obstacles for the teams to navigate, the decision was made to alter the design to eliminate the possibility of a dog stepping on or becoming trapped or tangled in the material in any way.

Amended closed tunnel specifications
This obstacle consists of a short open section of tunnel with a cloth curtain or flap which the dog must push through to the outside. This obstacle may be purchased ready-made or designed at home. Ready-made tunnels will likely have to be shortened or hemmed to the appropriate length. If being built, a plastic barrel (may be obtained from car washes) or an open ended box constructed from wood, is used to serve as the opening into the closed portion of the tunnel. The opening into the barrel must be at least 24 inches in diameter (or 24 inches square) and should be 24-36 inches long. The barrel must have a base or braces (sand bags may be used) to keep it from moving out of position. The inside bottom of the barrel or wooden structure must be painted with nonslip paint or have non-slip tape (such as is used in bath tubs) to provide good footing for the dogs. Also, if the edges of the barrel are sharp, resulting from cutting out the bottom (or top) of the barrel, rubber padding must be taped or glued to the sharp edges to prevent injuring a dog. Rubberized pipe insulation works well for this purpose. The curtain over the exit of the tunnel may be made from various types of material, such as rip-stop parachute material or other types of cloth that are not too heavy or bulky for the very small breeds to push through. It must be dark in color to prevent light from entering. The cloth is sewn into a tube that fits around the barrel on one end and extends past the barrel or box just far enough to hang to the ground but still swing freely. For example, on a barrel with a diameter of 24 inches, the cloth will extend past the barrel on more than 24 inches.

There is no qualification requirement to begin competing in Agility 1. However, some local or multi-county shows may offer the Pre-Agility I class to teams that are still in training allowing them to complete the Agility I course on lead. There are no on-lead classes at the Kansas State Fair 4-H Dog Show. Teams should be judged on the same criteria as described for other classes except for breaking the plane of an obstacle and minor touching of the dog (to untangle a leash, etc). In addition, the judge should excuse a handler that must continually use the leash to physically guide the dog over obstacles.