Clean Run - November 2017 - 10

ETOS RAThER ThAN ETS
Early takeoffs were originally described in an article I wrote called "Early Takeoff Syndrome." It was published in Clean Run
magazine in May 2010. At that time, ETOs were attributed to poor training, poor structure, or injury. Most trainers had
only worked with isolated cases and did not realize the problem was so widespread. A "syndrome" is defined by Merriam
Webster as "a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition."
I used the term early takeoff syndrome (ETS) to describe the common histories and signs that were characteristically
associated with early takeoffs. I wanted the agility community to recognize this was a problem affecting many dogs
throughout the country, all with different training, structure, backgrounds, and so on. And, in some cases, the dogs were
related. I hoped that by increasing awareness of the problem, it would lead to an understanding of the cause.
Although vision impairment was believed to be the cause by those working closely with affected dogs, this was difficult
to prove. Vision testing is not very sophisticated in veterinary medicine and nearly all dogs showing ETOs were deemed to
have "normal" vision by veterinarians because no eye disease was found. However, we have since learned that absence of
detectable eye disease does not mean the dog's visual function is normal.
At that time, the common histories and signs seemed to indicate a single cause was responsible for the ETOs.
As multiple risk factors for early takeoffs have now been identified, the use of syndrome in the name has been dropped;
early takeoff, or ETO, is a clear and objective description. Remember that the primary problem is vision impairment
and ETOs are simply a sign that a problem exists.
Understanding of ETOs has increased considerably since the 2010 article, but there is still much to learn.

PROgRESSION OF ETOS
Many dogs that are ultimately affected with ETOs begin their
jump training without any signs of a problem. Often dogs that
develop ETOs have a solid foundation in jump training and, in
fact, may have been a talented, successful jumper before the
onset of problems.
The age when signs are first noticed can vary. Some dogs
seem to have difficulty from the very start of training, but
most develop problems much later. Some owners, aware of
ETOs, have observed their puppies seemingly misjudging
takeoff distances, such as one step onto a porch, early on. But
usually the dog has already been competing, with no apparent difficulty, for one to three years before subtle changes in
the dog's jumping become apparent. The fact that the dogs
often jump well initially, before the onset of signs, is an indication that the dog's structure or jump training is not the
cause of the jumping problem.
In agility, ETOs are frequently associated with inappropriate shortening of the last stride, a takeoff point prior to the
takeoff zone (see "The Dog Over a Jump" in Chapter 1 of
Mastering Jumping Skills, Vol. 1) and a jumping arc that peaks
before the bar.
Initially ETOs can be infrequent and subtle, and usually go unnoticed by the untrained eye. Sometimes the first sign is when
the dog begins lowering his head on his final stride before
the ETO, or when he mildly overjumps. Observant handlers or
those educated about ETOs may recognize subtle ETOs. However, those unfamiliar with ETOs may fail to observe the shorter
landing distance and perceive the longer takeoff distance to be
the result of extension. Sometimes ETOs are hard to see without slow motion video. It is easier to recognize that a problem
10

exists if the dog starts knocking more bars than usual, or experiences a significant misjudgment on a tire or spread jump.
Often the ETOs gradually increase in frequency over time,
which makes them more noticeable. Depending on the underlying cause, after signs are first noticed the dog may stabilize
or even improve slightly. However, it is common for handlers to
report that dogs with ETOs may gradually worsen, measured
by increasing frequency of problematic performances, or the
severity of the misjudgment increases over time.
Older dogs that have previously been fine may begin to show
signs similar to dogs with ETOs much later in their careers. Late
onset is often related to eye problems that occur due to age,
trauma, disease, and so on. A dog that has jumped with ETOs
since he was younger may appear to worsen as an older dog,
but he may have a new problem as well as the original cause of
the ETOs. These dogs should definitely get an eye exam.

SIgNS RELATEd TO ETOS
An infrequent ETO may not be cause for concern in a young
dog that is still learning how to master his mechanical jumping
skills and adjust his striding for an appropriate takeoff point.
Youthful exuberance and lack of experience making striding adjustments may understandably lead to some mistakes.
However, with training and experience the frequency of ETOs
should diminish over time in dogs with normal vision.
Specific signs related to ETOs will vary depending on the underlying cause. No two dogs will have exactly the same signs.
The sign common to all is the ETO. ETOs are marked by an inappropriately long takeoff distance, which results in the jumping arc peaking before the bar with a premature descent. This
happens either when the dog shortens his final stride or when
he inappropriately omits the final stride, resulting in a takeoff
Clean Run | November 17



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - November 2017

Contents
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover1
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover2
Clean Run - November 2017 - Contents
Clean Run - November 2017 - 4
Clean Run - November 2017 - 5
Clean Run - November 2017 - 6
Clean Run - November 2017 - 7
Clean Run - November 2017 - 8
Clean Run - November 2017 - 9
Clean Run - November 2017 - 10
Clean Run - November 2017 - 11
Clean Run - November 2017 - 12
Clean Run - November 2017 - 13
Clean Run - November 2017 - 14
Clean Run - November 2017 - 15
Clean Run - November 2017 - 16
Clean Run - November 2017 - 17
Clean Run - November 2017 - 18
Clean Run - November 2017 - 19
Clean Run - November 2017 - 20
Clean Run - November 2017 - 21
Clean Run - November 2017 - 22
Clean Run - November 2017 - 23
Clean Run - November 2017 - 24
Clean Run - November 2017 - 25
Clean Run - November 2017 - 26
Clean Run - November 2017 - 27
Clean Run - November 2017 - 28
Clean Run - November 2017 - 29
Clean Run - November 2017 - 30
Clean Run - November 2017 - 31
Clean Run - November 2017 - 32
Clean Run - November 2017 - 33
Clean Run - November 2017 - 34
Clean Run - November 2017 - 35
Clean Run - November 2017 - 36
Clean Run - November 2017 - 37
Clean Run - November 2017 - 38
Clean Run - November 2017 - 39
Clean Run - November 2017 - 40
Clean Run - November 2017 - 41
Clean Run - November 2017 - 42
Clean Run - November 2017 - 43
Clean Run - November 2017 - 44
Clean Run - November 2017 - 45
Clean Run - November 2017 - 46
Clean Run - November 2017 - 47
Clean Run - November 2017 - 48
Clean Run - November 2017 - 49
Clean Run - November 2017 - 50
Clean Run - November 2017 - 51
Clean Run - November 2017 - 52
Clean Run - November 2017 - 53
Clean Run - November 2017 - 54
Clean Run - November 2017 - 55
Clean Run - November 2017 - 56
Clean Run - November 2017 - 57
Clean Run - November 2017 - 58
Clean Run - November 2017 - 59
Clean Run - November 2017 - 60
Clean Run - November 2017 - 61
Clean Run - November 2017 - 62
Clean Run - November 2017 - 63
Clean Run - November 2017 - 64
Clean Run - November 2017 - 65
Clean Run - November 2017 - 66
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover3
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover4
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