Judging Agility: Ensuring A Safe And Healthy Sport For The Dogs

Veronika Nagy is a OneMind Dogs Assistant Coach from Hungary, who besides coaching and competing is also a judge at high level agility competitions. On November 4-5, 2017 she is judging the Hungarian National Championship.

We asked Veronika a few questions about how her experience as a trainer and handler is affecting her as a judge.

Tell us about yourself - what's your agility career like and how did you become a judge?

I spent my childhood without animals. In 2003, for my 30th birthday I got my first dog Tilos, a Welsh terrier. I wanted a friend for Tilos, so Molly, a Border Collie, arrived at our home. After ten years of active agility, they are now enjoying their retirement. Because Molly has only one eye due to an illness, I had to learn alternative handling techniques on the agility field.

I currently compete in agility with a young dog called Elf, who is not my own dog. Because we don’t live together, it can be challenging for us to work as a team, but I'm learning a lot from the experience. I’ve been conducting agility trainings and seminars in Hungary since 2007. I like to teach because I love dogs, and I also enjoy helping people be more successful in agility.

In 2014 I started to look at the agility from another side: I became an official international FCI agility judge. I’ve judged several Hungarian and international competitions. In 2010 became the Team Leader of the Hungarian Agility Team, which is a great recognition for me. My motto is: Never give up; there is always something to learn!

How long have you been involved with the OneMind Dogs method?

I attended a OneMind Dogs seminar with Jaakko Suoknuuti in Hungary in 2011. This systematic approach to training was immediately very convincing for me. I first learned about the OneMind Dogs method through the internet, and in 2016 I was selected in the pilot group of OneMind Dogs Assistant Coaches.

How is the knowledge you have as a handler and trainer affecting you as a judge?

As a judge, it's very important that my courses have rhythm and flow. In competitions, I always tend to change my plans during the course building. In this respect I'm thinking like a competitor or a trainer, and I correct the line or the angle of the obstacles. I feel much better about the handler’s line and the dog's line live rather than sitting in front of the computer. I need to know how to think as a competitor when I plan the dog’s lines on the course and use my trainer experience for the combinations. The obstacles are logical and on the dog’s path, which is very important for safety.

What is a judge's role in developing and driving agility forward as a sport?

The competitors prepare for agility courses that we, the judges, plan. This way I can ensure a safe and healthy sport for the dogs. It is important that as judges we keep the minimum security rules, such as straight lines before contact obstacles.

What makes a good judge in agility?

A good judge is constantly developing his or her knowledge. The most important aspect of a judge’s career is the dog's safety. A good judge strives for variety, and makes sure that courses have a style and rhythm. After the trial it is important to listen to the experiences of the contestants and to analyze the statistics. It’s also important to have a kind and open personality when communicating with the contestants.

What are your expectations for the Hungarian National Championships?

It is a great honor for me to judge in the National Championships. I am looking forward to working with my Finnish Judge partner Sari Mikkilä. The final system and team-run make the competition very exciting. The Hungarian agility competitors are very well prepared and motivated, especially after the success in this year's World Championship. I'm planning fast, technical courses, which I hope will be worthy of the level of competition!

Our mission is to give a happy life to dogs by helping people become amazing dog owners. We are passionate about increasing the mutual understanding between the dog and the owner, making a life together more enjoyable for both.