Friday, July 1, 2011


The subject of the prohibition of tags on collars in the competition obedience ring just doesn't want to go away.

Madeline Mason, Kingsport, New York, is new to this blog, and she only recently read my comments under "The Matter of Anonymity," posted April 25.  She posted a lengthy comment. In part she said, "Tags usually clang and bang to some degree, and I could see a situation where a handler might be able to use that noise to his advantage as some sort of cue."

There you have it.  Each time this subject comes up -- and as I said in my post of April 25, I've brought it up multiple times across the past few years -- someone says something similar to what Madeline wrote.

No one seems to have the foggiest notion when or why that rule came about.  If the late Jim Dearinger, an oldtimers' oldtimer, didn't know when he was asked several years ago, surely the whys and wherefores are buried in AKC antiquities.

I can see it now:  One day in the distant past the powers that be at the AKC are gathered to focus their august wisdom on the rules for a fledgling dog sport called competition obedience.  The subject of collars comes up and somebody says, "If we let them in there with tags on their collars, someone's going to use those tags to gain an unfair advantage."  The others nod sagely.  Done.  Written in stone.

So here we are in 2011 and no one has a clue.  No one has been able to suggest what objective would be sought by using the tags to cue the dog while in the the ring.  No one has come up with what exactly one would train the dog to do in response to the presence of the tags.  Or how that training would be carried out.

Many Supertrainers (the best in the world) read this blog.  So let's play a little game of hypotheticals.  Pretend that collars with dangling tags are permitted in the competition ring.  And that it's permissible to use those tags in any way you want to enhance your dog's performance.

What would you want to accomplish?  How would you use those tags to try to achieve better scores?  And how would you teach whatever you're trying to accomplish -- not in generalities; what would be the teaching steps?

Please put on your thinking cap, shift into training mode and spell it out.  Post it in the comments section below.

Let's see once and for all if the best minds in the sport can make any sense of this.


(Personal to Madeline Mason:  If you'll email me at, I'll put you on the list to get an email each time I post something new.)

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