The Stride Regulator in Agility Training
While not generally considered technically difficult, many owners find that correctly dismounting obstacles with contact points (such as the A-frame or dog walk) on an Agility course is complicated for some dogs. With a relatively small dismount area that can be easy to hop over, owners are keen on teaching their pet good habits from the start. One device that can aid in this endeavor is the stride regulator, discussed below.
What is the Stride Regulator A stride regulator is a homemade device that is placed on the downside of an A-Frame or dog walk to teach muscle memory in striding down the obstacle. Stride regulators can help a dog learn to dismount the A-Frame and dog walk quickly and correctly. Common stride regulators include sections of drain pipe, foam tubes, 2 x 4 pieces of wood and rectangular planters attached with bungee cords or c-clamps. The stride regulator works by preventing the dog from slowing as he or she reaches the bottom of the obstacle and instead propelling forward motion..
Stride Regulator Placement The first step in determining the placement of the stride regulator is to consider how you would like your dog to run over the obstacle. If your dog is large, you likely prefer your pet to stride over the A-Frame apex, collect him or herself halfway down the backside, and then stride through the final contact point, taking three strides total. For smaller dogs, five strides may be appropriate. In both instances, a regulator may be positioned just past the apex (on the downside) of the A-Frame to ensure the dog takes a long stride over the top, and then another regulator just before the contact zone, to ensure your dog makes it into the proper area before the dismount. For the dog walk, a single stride regulator may be placed just before the contact point to encourage your pet to run through the dismount area. Placement will be different for each dog, and finding the proper location will vary for each animal based on size and stride length. When first introducing your pet to stride regulators it is recommended to use a softer material (such as a foam tube) to allow “give” should your pet accidentally knock the object.
Pros and Cons of the Stride Regulator The greatest benefit of the stride regulator is that it helps drill a dog into properly traversing the obstacle in a quick and consistent manner. Stride regulators can be easily and economically constructed at home and are adjustable for any dog’s needs. However, some trainers take issue with the use of stride regulators because they can cause dogs to run down an A-Frame with too much speed, placing potentially unnecessary stress on the dog’s front quarters at the final contact point. If unsure of how to use a stride regulator or whether this tool is useful for your pet, it is recommended to first consult with a trainer before trying anything at home.