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The New Group Services

USDAA offers major changes to increase online activity for groups. By Debbie Zahler

USDAA recently introduced a new Group Services section to its Web site. For those of you who are not intimately involved in your club's relationship with USDAA, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.

The process for hosting a USDAA trial includes hiring judges, filing an application with USDAA to host the event, completing a judges panel(which identifies what classes offered during the trial will be judged by each judge), and creating a test schedule.

Hiring Judges

The Approved Judges List has been an interactive tool on the USDAA Web site for several years now, identifying all of the approved judges, their level (Starters, Advanced, Masters), status (apprentice, supervisor, CMJ), and what shows they are already engaged to judge. This tool is essential for those of us who hire judges for our trials.

Filing an Application

Until this past month, filing an application to host a USDAA trial required filling out a manual form and mailing it, along with a check, to the USDAA office. Secretaries then checked the Web site for the next week or two to ensure that the office received the application and posted the information correctly. With the new Group Services section, the trial application can be completed online, in just a matter of minutes, with the fee paid by electronic check or credit card. Assuming the club is using the same weekend as they have in previous years (i.e., as reserved on the four-year planning calendar), the trial can be seen on the Event Calendar immediately.

Judges Panel

Until this past month, the Judges Panel was also a form that was manually completed and mailed to USDAA. Again the secretary awaited receipt by the USDAA office and to see the information posted. With the Web site changes, the judges are easily selected, and the classes very quickly assigned to each judge. Once the secretary decides he/she has all of the information entered correctly, he/she submits it to the USDAA and, again, the information can be seen on the Event Calendar immediately.

I file applications for my club's AKC trials as well as our USDAA trials. I find that the USDAA's online application site is actually much easier to use than the AKC's.

In addition to the things mentioned above, trial secretaries are now able to enter all of the information required to create a test schedule in the Group Services section. The system has boilerplate information with certain items that are required to be included in the test schedule. It then allows the secretary to enter hotel information, upload forms for RV reservations and volunteers, and add any other information specific to the trial. Sections also exist for entering class fees and discounts. In the end, you have a full test schedule with entry form that is linked to the Event Calendar. Once the information for a particular trial is entered, it will be saved in the USDAA database. A cloning feature is in development that will allow secretary to create a new test schedule simply by selecting a previous event to copy information previously saved in the database.

A couple of items are coming soon that will benefit all competitors. Sometime later this year, secretaries will be able to upload results electronically to USDAA if using USDAA-Authorized Vendor Software. Tim Verrellis Agility Trial Secretary software is the first to be available. This will be of huge benefit to all as it will further speed the time it takes for trial results to be reviewed and posted. Another item in the works is the ability for competitors to enter trials online through the USDAA Web site.

The Group Services section is available for use by each clubs USDAA representative and by anyone issued credentials by that representative. Those who require access should have already received their credentials from the USDAA and/or their club representative.

USDAA has made great strides this last year with the re-fashioning of the Competitor Services section and the implementation of the new Group Services section. Check out the changes soon!

Debbie Zahler lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her two dogs, nine-year-old terrier mix ADCH Skitch and three-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie Mookie.  Debbie has been competing in agility for seven years and is currently Club Secretary for Pals & Paws Agility in Jacksonville.  Debbie can be contacted at


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