We had a positive experience at our local AKC show, hosted by the Krusin’ Kanine Agility & Dog Sports Club. This was my first trial since COVID-19 hit the United States, and its a whole new way of doing dog shows. I’d like to thank the volunteers and club members that went the extra mile to organize and run a dog show while being as safe and health conscious as possible. This post is going to walk through what our trial day was like for anyone curious about how things have changed. Thankfully, running courses with our dogs was just as fun as ever. 

We gathered for the briefing outside the building, with everyone in masks and while practicing social distancing. The judges explained the new regulations, such as wearing your mask into the ring and the option to carry your leash. We had a contactless check-in with the gate, and a series of split walk through limited to about 10 people per group. While this took a while, the small groups made it exceptionally easy to social distance during the walk through. 

Volunteers wore masks and gloves to touch obstacles and the materials for score keeping. In between classes, volunteers sanitized the obstacles before the next group of volunteers entered the ring for bar setting and course building. A club member also took the time to set up a live stream on Facebook for us to watch our friends as no spectators were allowed in the building. 

Competitor lined up in a waiting box before their run.
Split walk-throughs to encourage
social distancing

Before our run, the gate steward lined up competitors five at a time. Each competitor progressively moved through pre-set waiting boxes to ensure social distancing as we approached the ring. When the dog before us left the start line, the previous dog and handler were invited to leave the building. And then, we were invited into the final staging box before our run. Here, we waited for the dog before us to leave the ring where they would wait in an exit area until we’d left the start line. While it sounds complicated, volunteers did an exceptional job directing traffic to ensure handlers kept their distance from one another. 

Example of Competitor flow around the ring
Green Path shows teams waiting to run, and
Red Path shows teams that have finished.

We were not required to wear our masks in the ring, but carried our masks with us during our runs. We had the option of wearing/carrying our leash or having the leash runner move it to the end. The leash runner used a grabber which was sanitized between runs to limit contact with leashes. 

After our run, we were invited to leave the exit area and collect our items (i.e. coats, treats, toys) before exiting the building. With two entrances to the building, the handlers leaving were directed out a separate entrance from where competitors were lined up for their turn.

In between runs we spent a lot of time chilling in our cars outside. While this made for a quiet and unique trial experience, it was an absolute pleasure to see familiar faces, even under masks, and run my girls in agility. 

Kathleen Oswald

Written by

Kathleen Oswald

Mental Performance Coach and long time agility competitor with a M.S. Exercise and Sport Science