There is a new scientific study re: Canine Jumping. The last sentence in the Abstract below, regarding obstacle spacing, is of particular interest to me because it makes sense that obstacle spacing, relative to a dog’s size, will have an enormous impact on a dog’s jumping style, which in turn will affect how much wear and tear repetitive, agility-style jumping will have on a dog’s body. Fantastic there is now REAL science to back that up.
• In contrast to equines, canine sport science has been poorly studied.
• As the distance between consecutive upright hurdles increases, so do the take-off and landing distances.
• Take-off and landing distances further alter with the dog’s skill level.
• There are greater differences in jump kinematics when the distances between consecutive hurdles are shorter.
• Apparent joint angles alter for level of skill, with beginner dogs showing greater differences than advanced dogs.
Canine agility is a rapidly growing sport in the UK. However, there is a paucity of scientific research examining jump kinematics and associated health and welfare implications of the discipline. The aim of this research was to examine differences in jump kinematics and apparent joint angulation of large (> 431 mm at the withers) agility dogs (n = 54), when the distance between hurdles was altered (3.6 m, 4 m and 5 m apart) and to determine how level of skill impacted upon jump kinematics.
Significant differences were observed for both the take-off (P < 0.001) and landing distances (P < 0.001) between the 3.6 m, 4 m and 5 m distances. Further differences were observed when level of skill was controlled for; take-off (F[3,55] = 5.686, P = 0.002) and landing (F[3,55] = 7.552, P < 0.001) distances differed at the 3.6 m distance, as did the take-off distance at the 4 m hurdle distance (F[3,50] = 6.168, P = 0.001). Take-off and landing speeds differed for hurdle distances (P < 0.001) and level of skill (P < 0.001). There were significant differences in apparent neck angle during take-off and landing (P < 0.001), lumbar spine angles during take-off, bascule and landing (P < 0.01), and in shoulder angles during the bascule phase (P < 0.05). The results indicate that agility dogs alter their jumping patterns to accommodate the spacing between hurdles, which ultimately may impact long term health and welfare due to altered kinematics.