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UDSAA vs CPE vs NADAC vs AKC... help for an agility newbie?

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  • UDSAA vs CPE vs NADAC vs AKC... help for an agility newbie?

    I'm new to agility competition with my dog, and I'm a bit confused about which venue is "best," and for what reasons.

    Can anyone explain to me what the differences are between the different agility venues?? Basically all I know is that CPE offers more game-like classes, while AKC offers a more traditional class format. I don't have a clue what USDAA or NADAC trials are like!

    I am a competitive person, and courses that are challenging and very technical are appealing to me. I don't mind a more "serious" competition, but it's hardly a requirement.

  • #2
    USDAA is the original US venue- it's very competitive, has high jump heights, fast course times, and difficult courses. If you go to a USDAA trial, you may be struck by how many border collies are present- not much breed diversity. It has always accepted dogs of any breed or lack thereof. They have standard courses, jumpers courses, and three games- pairs, gamblers and snooker. They also have tournaments, and if your dog is really fast and you are a great handler you can actually win cash prizes.

    CPE is sort of a more recreational-less competitive, toned-down version of USDAA. Course times are longer, jump heights can be low (if desired by the handler), courses are easier. They've added a lot of games classes in addition to standard, jumpers, and snooker. You'll see a lot of breed variety at CPE trials, also a lot of older dogs retired from USDAA, also a lot of young dogs just starting out. It's a really good place to start a young dog out in. Or to stay in if your dog isn't fast enough to be competitive in USDAA or grew a millimeter too tall and now is expected to jump at an insanely high height in USDAA.

    NADAC split off from USDAA some time ago over concerns about how the obstacle requirements of USDAA were causing injuries. NADAC has been going its own way ever since. They've ditched several of the traditional obstacles and invented a few more that are unique to NADAC. They tend to focus on distance handling and speed. Usually the courses aren't very technical at all, it's all about flow and speed. They have always accepted dogs of any breed or lack thereof. They have a variety of courses, but no real "games"- most of their non-standard courses involve removing most of the other obstacles and using a lot of one particular obstacle, like weavers or tunnelers. It can be difficult to run a dog in both NADAC and other venues, because they use a very low A-frame, and because of their unique obstacles, like the hoops. They also don't use a teeter or a table, so if your dog won't do the teeter no way no how, they are an option. Course times are very fast, though, so if your dog is on the slow side you may never manage to qualify once you get out of novice.

    DOCNA was invented as an attempt to re-create NADAC the way NADAC used to be before it started diverting into its very unique current form. DOCNA has been struggling to catch on in my area, and I've only ever attended one trial.

    UKI is a recent innovation. I've never been to one and can't say much about it.

    ASCA has been around for awhile, but I know nothing about it.

    AKC tends to have very technical, twisty courses and tends to be very competitive. Until recently only AKC-registered purebreds could compete. Until recently, they only had standard runs and jumper runs. They've started adding a few games-like classes recently, like FAST.

    There's also UKC, which has a lot of unique obstacles and rules, and I know nothing about it other than that.

    TDAA is for small dogs. The obstacles are small, the spaces between obstacles short. I have heard that dogs trained for TDAA from the beginning have trouble crossing over to any of the regular venues.
    Last edited by wendy; Feb. 20, 2013, 03:28 PM.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks! That is exactly the sort of information I was looking for; I really appreciate it!!

      My dog is very fast and does all the obstacles well. At this point his flatwork needs tightened up a bit of work, and he needs to be proofed a bit on doing the weaves and hitting his contacts when I'm not right there to babysit.

      I looked up the jump heights for USDAA, and I don't think it's for my dog. He's 17" and I'd like him to have a nice long competitive life, so I don't think I can in good conscience ask him to jump 22"

      It sounds as though maybe we should do a few more CPE trials, and then moving to AKC might be my best bet.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Lazy Palomino Hunter View Post
        I looked up the jump heights for USDAA, and I don't think it's for my dog. He's 17" and I'd like him to have a nice long competitive life, so I don't think I can in good conscience ask him to jump 22"
        Keep in mind that most of the agility organizations will allow you to enter your dog in a class that jumps a bit lower than their "true" height class - USDAA has Performance, AKC has Preferred, NADAC has Skilled (and additional exceptions based on breed and age can also apply), CPE has Enthusiast, Specialist and Veterans.

        Really, there isn't one "best" organization (unless you're hoping to run in International-level competitions or are going for a breed specific award). I find that I run AKC pretty exclusively, but some of that comes from the fact that the trials that are closest/most convenient to me are AKC. I've got a friend who really enjoys the CPE trials (but she's willing to drive farther than I am). I've run NADAC, but there aren't enough local trials to make it really worthwhile for me.

        Oh, and just to throw another thing in there, around here, most AKC trials only offer 3 classes per day/per dog, while you can generally have 5-6 runs per day in NADAC and CPE (not sure about USDAA). After running full days of both AKC and NADAC, I prefer the fewer runs per day you find in AKC, but you and your dog might enjoy doing more runs per day.

        You can also consider the sites of your local trials - who's got the nicest footing, etc? Some trials around here are run indoors on awesome indoor soccer fields, so we're good rain or shine - others are outdoors, so you could be out in cold/wet/windy/hot/humid conditions. I know one person who will not run her very fast dog at a specific site because she doesn't feel the footing is safe for him.

        There are many factors, you just have to figure out which are most important to you!


        • #5
          That was great info--thank you! I have only really heard about NADAC, CPE, AKC and USDAA--interesting to hear about the others.

          I really liked the NADAC trials I went to, and my trainer is more heavily involved in NADAC. I am very much in favor of the rubber contacts after seeing my older dog slip on a non-rubber A-frame and having a friend whose dog was seriously injured when he fell off a non-rubber dog walk. My older dog seemed so much happier and more confident when she tried rubber contacts, and my younger dog that is actually competing now seemed nervous the first time I asked him to do a non-rubber dog walk and slows down significantly on it.

          The people at the NADAC trials were very friendly, there was a good variety of breeds, and I thought the courses for novice were challenging enough (especially with discriminations) but not too hard. Unfortunately, the course times are a little too fast for my dachshund--even in jumpers, which he really likes and will run his little legs off in, he always ends up a second or two over qualifying. But it's still a lot of fun.

          As I said, I'm going to try my first CPE trial this weekend... we'll see how it goes!
          "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

          Graphite/Pastel Portraits


          • #6
            Wendy did a great job describing the different venues.

            I'm a USDAA lover, although I've done a bit of CPE and AKC as well. As mentioned, you can compete one height below your dog's measurement in USDAA (which I do - my dogs are 17.75" and 17", so I run them 16" performance). That allows my dogs to jump the same height in all three venues. The competitiveness is what I really love about USDAA. The courses tend to be the most complex of any of the venues that I've had experience with, with the most handling. It actually benefits my older dog at the master's level - she can't outrun a BC in a foot race, but she's very tight and accurate around a course, and that gets her ahead when they slip up.

            I think venues probably vary a bit by area as well, so I hesitate to generalize much. CPE has been a bit casual for my tastes, although was a nice intro for me to the sport. AKC only recently started allowing my dogs to participate, so I've only run a few times with my older dog. Two runs a day doesn't entertain me enough, although I'll be running both dogs at my next AKC trial. The courses tend to be pretty tight and, while not simplistic by any means, far less handling-dependent than USDAA.
            "Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." ~Mal, Firefly


            • #7
              I used to hate USDAA, but now I have really grown to love it. I am not fond of the direction that NADAC has gone - especially with the hoops and barrels. I understand their concerns but I think they are taking it too far. We don't even have NADAC here in Atlanta anymore, so I have started doing AKC. USDAA is fun bc of the games ( Snooker and gamblers) and the courses are tight which my dog loves. AND we can get in 5 runs a day which is nice. AKC, like someone else said only has 2-3 runs a day and it makes for a very long day. But a couple of my group have started doing AKC so it's a fun day for us. The interesting thing about AKC is that you are allowed 15 faults and you can still get a Q. That is not the case in USDAA or NADAC. I find the AKC novice courses easier to do.

              With regards to jump height, I just moved my dog down to performance this year. He measures at 23" so he's been jumping 26" and he can still do it wonderfully, but he's going to be 8 this year and if I want him to keep going, then performance it is. He's going to be jumping 22" which is barely high enough to keep him interested, but we'll live .

              We don't have CPE here but we do have ASCA and I think it's a lot like NADAC. Flowy courses, laid back and lots of fun.


              • #8
                Great info. I admit I'm an AKC person for the simple reason that AKC is THE international recognized registry, so to me an AKC title means more than one from another organization.


                • Original Poster

                  Anne, that's another factor pushing me toward AKC. My dog comes from mostly conformation lines and I know his breeder would appreciate AKC performance titles on him. His full older brother is a GCh/multi-BISS who is 4/5 of his way to going ROM... I'm sure a full sibling with a bunch of AKC performance titles (who knows, maybe even a MACH someday?) would add to the brother's resume as a stud.


                  • #10
                    Dream away! The person who has my dog's litter sister is big into Agility and she just got her MACH this year and is competing at the Nationals next month. She's thrilled. Her dog just loves it. Sounds like in your case AKC would indeed be great, but of course you could do anything. I know some people use the other organizations venues as practice runs, as variety runs, as training sessions...


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DarkenStormy View Post
                      The interesting thing about AKC is that you are allowed 15 faults and you can still get a Q. That is not the case in USDAA or NADAC.
                      You're only allowed faults at the Novice and Open levels in AKC - once you get to Excellent/Masters - it's clean or it's an NQ!

                      One thing that initially "bothered" a friend who did USDAA before she ran AKC was that in USDAA, even if you don't Q, you can still get a placement - in AKC, No Q = No placement (and no ribbon!) - and yes, I teased her a little about being a "ribbon 'ho!"

                      Number of runs per day is a total two-edged sword, as far as I'm concerned - and in my (admittedly limited experience) with NADAC, all the trials were one ring affairs and we were much more likely to be there all day. Most of my local AKC trials run 2 rings, so depending on the order of the day (what classes run when and whether we're going tall to small or vice versa), I don't have to stick around 'till the bitter end about 50% of the time. I've also found that (especially if the footing isn't kind to me) - sometimes, I'm better off not having as many runs per day, even though the dogs could probably handle more (and probably do on a regular training day!).

                      And LPH - having a performance titled sibling may or may not carry a ton of weight as far as your dog's brother is concerned, but it does reflect quite nicely on their parents (and might help them earn ROMs).


                      • #12
                        I am very much in favor of the rubber contacts after seeing my older dog slip on a non-rubber A-frame and having a friend whose dog was seriously injured when he fell off a non-rubber dog walk.
                        all of the venues are using rubber now- not the black mats NADAC uses, but this really nice bumpy rubber that comes in the regular colors, so you still get yellow contact zones and a different color for the rest of the obstacle.

                        I agree no venue is best for everyone- try some and see which suits you and your dog.

                        I like having multiple runs per day- if I'm going to get up early and drive a long way, I don't want to only get in two 30-second runs in the ring. USDAA they often run 3-ring trials around here, so if you're running multiple dogs in different levels, doing all the classes plus the tournaments, you can spend the entire day on the move, walking courses and running dogs, with no sitting around for hours between runs. CPE are more relaxed, with only one ring, but you get 4 or 5 runs per dog per day, plus you have to spend time figuring out your strategies for the games, so again, very little sitting around time. NADAC, you get 6 runs per day, but there aren't any strategy games so less fun, in my opinion. I like to try to beat my last fullhouse score and figure out how to max out the points in snooker.


                        • #13
                          Some of our USDAA trials run one ring and those are LONG days! REALLY REALLY LONG. I remember at one, my dog was the LAST dog to go on Sunday in Jumpers. When he went in the ring, the steward announced his name and said that he was the " Last dog in the class" and the "Last dog in the trial'. We got LOTS of cheers before we started and told we better make it good. We got a Q and a 1st ....


                          • #14
                            Wendy's first post was great! Phew so much info packed in.

                            In my region, I can compete in 6 NADAC classes and be done by 2:30pm! Or I can compete in 2 AKC classes and be done by 7:30pm.
                            Last edited by Bicoastal; Feb. 22, 2013, 11:04 AM.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by bdj View Post
                              And LPH - having a performance titled sibling may or may not carry a ton of weight as far as your dog's brother is concerned, but it does reflect quite nicely on their parents (and might help them earn ROMs).
                              Mom and Dad are both already ROM and ROMCs... I think his sire has something absurd like 45 champion get (he's been a top specialty producing sire for the last 3 or 4 years). I'm not sure how much weight a MACH would add there.

                              Thank you to everyone for the great information! I think we're going to stick with AKC for now; I just sent off Preferred Novice entries for April 19-21, and there is a trial opening soon the weekend after that I'm considering entering.

                              As he gets better and more mature, and I move up his jump height, we may transition to USDAA. Looking at their trial list, I may also have to wait until I finish grad school and move to another state... not much USDAA action here in OH!


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Lazy Palomino Hunter View Post
                                As he gets better and more mature, and I move up his jump height, we may transition to USDAA. Looking at their trial list, I may also have to wait until I finish grad school and move to another state... not much USDAA action here in OH!
                                I just remembered this website that might be useful to you, if you're interested in checking out any other agility venues: http://agilityevents.net/events/