The International Dog Agility League (IDAL) is conceived as a recreational competition league. It is a way for agility competitors and students to practice skills of varied complexity in a group or individual setting. Ideally, the team members come together to run the courses so that there is a quasi-ring environment practice setting.
Perhaps a greater purpose of the league is to allow competitors to compare handling from around the world on the same courses. In this way, handlers are exposed to other techniques and methods which they can test and integrate into their own handling. This is the primary reason for submitting videos with the team results.
Since the advent of the International Dog Agility League, there have been teams who have been unable to consistently field a minimum of 5 team members. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these problems. While most teams enjoy participating in the league for fun and training among themselves, there are some teams who enjoy the notion of competition against other teams around the world. The concern had been raised a number of times in the past that teams with small numbers, teams with inexperienced handlers or dogs, and teams with large numbers of handlers were not equally represented for a number of different reasons.
The original calculation of team scores is the simple sum of the Lifetime Performance Points (LPP) of the team’s top 5 scores. It is easy to see how things could be unequal. Teams with less than 5 dogs have fewer opportunities to get their scores high enough to compete with teams with many dogs. Teams with less experienced handlers/dogs typically earn fewer LPP based on the course complexity. Thus, they may feel that they are not contributing to the overall team score. Teams with many more handlers than five, regardless of skill level, may also feel they are not contributing to the overall team score. As a result, the IDAL has gone through a number of changes in its greater than one decade of existence.
Last year, we implemented Intern level courses that all handlers/dogs could run to earn LPP, but on which only the Intern level (Novice or Open) handlers were ranked for specific “Top Dog” awards. The Interns had the additional benefit of using training aids and food/toys in the ring.
Several concepts of equalization have been investigated, including some way of handicapping teams. As other organizations have entered the field of league type competitions, several additional suggestions have been made. Some are complex and defeat the ease and affordability of teams participating. In an effort to limit the burden on the individual clubs but also equalize team numbers, this year the League Secretary implemented a trial run of assigning squads from within each club based on the team Captain’s assignment of Intern or Adept skill level. Clubs were invited to form their own squads or to allow the secretary to assign squads randomly. In addition, the secretary calculated team LPP in a few different ways to determine the overall impact on team standings. Individual standings were unchanged.
The secretary has been analyzing the impact using the first season data. That is one of the reasons why May through July results have not yet been reported. The second reason is the extreme weather in several team locations. The third, fourth, and fifth reasons are obviously me!
What follows in the next several articles are the reports from the first season data. I encourage everyone to provide feedback on the results.
Questions comments & snide remarks should be directed to Melissa Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.All payments for the IDAL should be directed to this page: https://www.ultimuttds.com/payment-processing. Bud Houston’s Book of Games is available for download at https://www.ultimuttds.com/product-page/houston-s-book-of-agility-games. All donations from the sale will go to Bud Houston.