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by Brenna Fender
11/17/09

RB Rubber Dog Agility Flooring/Tenderfoot

RB Rubber Dog Agility Flooring (also sold as Tenderfoot) may be best known in the agility community for its role as the flooring selected for the 2005 AKC Agility Nationals in Tampa, Florida. But since 1985, both animals and people have benefited from using this durable, anti-fatigue flooring. RB Rubber products, made from recycled tires, provide traction, joint protection, and shock absorption for use in agility and other dog sports. Ag & Pet Division Manager Kelly Arnold says that RB Rubber flooring can be found in “hundreds of agility clubs across the U.S., plus doggy daycares, and it seems to be working very well.” The matting comes in 1/2" and 3/4" 4' x 6' sections in 3/8" x 4' x 25' or 50' rolls. Thinner rolls are available are available but not recommended for agility. Users can choose to lay the product smooth-side up or textured-side up to best meet their needs.

RB Rubber flooring meets nation-wide safety standards for children’s use.

Contact: RB Rubber Products, 904 NE 10th Avenue, McMinnville, Oregon, 97128; 800-525-5530; www.rbrubber.com.

Cost: RB Rubber Products are available through J & J Dog Supplies or various dealers throughout the United States. Please contact customer service at RB Rubber Products, Inc. to locate the dealer near you. When purchased through J & J Dog Supplies, 4' x 6' mats are $39.99 each for 1/2" thickness and $42.99 each for 3/4" thickness; 3/8" rolled matting is $214.95 per 200' roll. Prices may vary based on quantity ordered; call for details.

Installation costs: Can be self-installed without significant cost, although RB Rubber has installation companies to refer customers to if preferred.

Installation requirements: Rolled rubber should be applied with double-stick tape or a trowel grade adhesive to concrete according to the installation instructions. The mats should be laid over unsealed concrete, with caulking adhesive applied between the seams.

Warranty: 5 years

Weight: 98 lbs. per 3/4" thick mat; rolls weigh 2 lbs/sq ft and come in 4' x 25' or 4' x 50' lengths.

Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Arnold suggests that for thorough cleaning, clubs should use a floor extractor that applies and removes a cleaning solution. The solution may pool if heavily applied because of the pores in the product. RB Rubber carries cleaning solutions and veterinary approved disinfectants for proper cleaning. Since heat will neutralize the cleaning solutions, a steam cleaner should not be used. A dry or damp sponge can be used to clean small areas. Some clubs use leaf vacuums for easy maintenance.

RB Rubber now carries a sealer that will fill in the pores between the particles of rubber and makes it significantly easier to maintain. It puts a sheen on the floor but doesn’t make it slippery. The sealer and will eventually wear off so it needs to be maintained by reapplying every three to six months in high traffic areas. No stripping is necessary—the sealer will stick to itself so you don’t have to redo the entire floor each time.

Comments:

Robin Nuttall, instructor from the Columbia Canine Sports Center said in 2005: “The dogs love it, and after three years I don’t know of any increase in injury, either short or long term. We have it installed ‘wrong side’ up, which is a rougher surface. The dogs can accelerate to full speed, turn easily, and there is absolutely no slipping. Judges at our UKC trials fight over who gets to have the RB Rubber ring because their feet don’t get tired after an entire day of walking on it. We use the 3/4" thickness, in the 4' x 6' mats.

The one disadvantage of the wrong-side-up approach is that it’s a bit more difficult to clean in case of an accident; brushes and blotting are called for instead of wiping with a paper towel, and vacuuming works better than sweeping for dog hair. But overall we’re thrilled with the surface and would choose it again.”

Update from Robin Nuttall, regarding Columbia Canine Sports Center’s new 28,800 sq ft facility with RB Rubber: “We’ve been very happy with it. The mats are holding up well to moderate-to-heavy use. We run classes on the surface four days a week and now host AKC, UKC, USDAA, and ASCA agility trials on it as well as using it for Obedience, Rally, etc. Last winter, a group of local soccer teams came in and used it for winter practice.”

Terry Smorch, who ran his Border Collie on RB Rubber at the AKC Agility Nationals in 2005: “[It had] good traction for the dogs and handlers. The matting was placed on top of concrete so it was a firm surface without a lot of cushion. It was fine for a few runs over a weekend but I would probably not want to use it for regular training if placed on top of concrete. I would want to evaluate the matting over a cushioned surface for everyday use.”

Elaine Mayher, Jump & Run Canine Training Center, LLC in Columbia Station, Ohio: “We purchased RB Rubber for our flooring in our 4,000 sq ft training building. It is the 3/8" thickness in solid black. I really have no issues with the flooring but we did have issues with ordering and picking up the material from their warehouse, plus on our second order they sent the wrong thickness of rubber which wasn’t detected until we started using the pallet it was on due to the way it was packaged. That set us behind and cost us some income. Everything was rectified to our satisfaction but we could have lived without the hassle in the first place. You can view pictures of our flooring at our web site at www.jumpruncaninetraining.webs.com.
The flooring was installed December 1, 2008 and is holding up very well. Cleaning isn’t a problem but I wouldn’t use paper towels on it because the rough texture of the flooring traps paper towel particles and when it dries and makes a messy looking spot. A hard surface floor scrubbing machine works well for deep cleaning while daily vacuuming keeps the hair tumbleweeds down.”

Sprinturf

Sprinturf is an artificial turf that looks and feels like natural grass. Made of very strong Ultrablade™ fiber and a rubber or rubber and sand infill, Sprinturf products can be found in professional sports facilities, high school and college stadiums, dog parks, and dog training sites. Sprinturf produces other surfaces as well that may be useful for agility facilities.

The Ultrablade DF (dual fiber) product is the most popular for indoor and outdoor dog facility use. It was designed for athletic fields. The DF version is updated from previous product in that it traps the infill in place with slightly curling fibers.

All-rubber infill is recommended for installations in dog facilities. The infill surface rubber has been tested under numerous circumstances and has been deemed to be safe for children as well as pets. In fact, it is used as the primary system for playground applications.

Contact: Sprinturf, 1200 Liberty Ridge Drive, Ste.l00, Wayne, Pennsylvania, 19087; 877-686-8873; www.sprinturfsp.com.

Cost: $3.75-$4/sq ft for self-installation (this is a significant price decrease from 2005).
Installation costs: If installed by Sprinturf or affiliated installers, then the cost is approximately $5.25/sq ft total for the product and the installation. Variations in cost may occur depending on accessibility, location, and other factors. Sprinturf can provide assistance over the phone for self-installations.

Installation requirements: Can be installed on concrete, compacted stone, or compacted dirt (should be 95% compacted). If it is to be used heavily for dogs to eliminate on it, adequate drainage must be ensured. Sprinturf comes in 15' widths, so seaming and cutting will be required.

Warranty: 8-year manufacturer’s warranty. Installation warranty depends on installer (varies based on size).

Weight: A 1,500 sq ft roll weighs about 700 lbs., but Sprinturf can be cut to any size to facilitate ease of installation. The infill rubber comes in 50-lb., 1,000-lb., and 2,000-lb. bags.

Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Sprinturf can be hosed off or special cleaners can be used. Company called Pioneer has helped work with Sprinturf to create a debacterial agent, but a non-phosphorus Tide product diluted may also be used. To remove hair and debris, use a backpack/walk behind blower and or a drag brush. Sprinturf Specialty Sales Coordinator Ray Bernabei says, “If a product were ever damaged, we would recommend one of our installers to come out and fix the issue.”

Comments:

Lisa Kucharski, of Cleveland, Ohio, has used Sprinturf for her own training and for occasional lessons since October, 2008: “There’s little maintenance. I don’t really see any dog hair on it but I’m not doing classes. We’ve had accidents—urine, feces, vomit—but they’ve been easy to clean. There’s no vapor barrier between the turf and the stone [it’s installed over crushed lime] and there are interior drain tiles under the stone. So, after picking up the bulk, I can douse the spot well with water and then I spray it very thoroughly with a commercial sanitizer mix. It hasn’t been in very long but it has been excellent so far.

I consider rubber infill turf to be the ideal [for agility]. It is not slippery—the dogs can dig their nails into the rubber just as they could into dirt on nice grass outdoors. But, unlike outdoors, it is even and it doesn’t get hard if there’s a lack of rain. The cushion is excellent. And, it is very clean. The dogs will pick up pellets in their coats if they roll around on the floor but it’s easy to brush them off [Editor’s note: that is not supposed to happen with the DF version].

The only downside to it is that we are a bit spoiled by it. The dogs can’t ‘dig in’ as well on mats and I don’t run very well on uneven dirt or grass surfaces.

I really love it and I’m glad that I chose it over the other options I’d considered. Sprinturf was awesome to work with. They have now done a decent number of agility installations so they understand what is involved and they were incredibly responsive. I love my floor – I have even started to do my own conditioning runs on it instead of pounding my legs on sidewalks or being bored to death on a treadmill.”

Mark Bills of Highest Hope Dog Sports in Grand Blanc, Michigan has had Ultrablade DF for just over a year: “We did our own install; it required rented equipment and lots of work. This saved 50% of the cost but I needed to call in a lot of favors from dog friends.

[To clean it] we use a lawn sweeper pulled behind a lawn tractor, and clean up accidents with Nature’s Miracle. So far it has worked well. Because the dog hair does not collect into little dust bunnies, it is not noticeable on the floor. We sweep every few weeks. [It’s holding up well, but] the dirt base has moved a little. We need to do some minor repairs but it’s nothing serious.

Good dirt is probably better for the fast dogs, but the Sprinturf offers great footing with out the mess and dust. I shopped for lots of turf options; Sprinturf was easy to work with and treated me like a real customer. The other large suppliers did not seem interested in working on a small project like mine.”

Beverly Melcher, owner of Orchard Hills Training Center in Barto, Pennsylvania installed Sprinturf in late 2006: “The decision to put Sprinturf in my training center is one the best investments I have ever made. It cleans fairly easily. I have had the Sprinturf people blow the hair out for me, and I have used a leaf blower and pressure washer to help keep it clean. If I ever put up another building, I would use Sprinturf again [for agility]. Everybody that has seen and used my training center can not say enough about how nice the Sprinturf is. My Sprinturf gets a lot of wear and tear with many activities going on at my training center, and seems to be holding up very well.”

Mary Ellen Barry, who instructs on Sprinturf Ultrablade: “It is by far my favorite surface to run on as well as stand on all day for teaching. Ours is installed over leveled dirt. Since the facility is used by all kinds of classes, there are accidents on it. The turf has holes in it for draining and because of the dirt underneath; accidents are not a problem. We have Natures Miracle on hand and clean up quickly, but so far there haven’t been any long term effects.
There is some level of slipping by the dogs, however, I personally find it to be no more so than outside on grass (even less). This surface is an indoor/outdoor and can also be used outside. When used outside in rainy climates, it alleviates the problem of mud and the surface drains quite well.”

Trac-Roll

Trac-Roll, sometimes known as Top Dog Flooring, is a versatile floor which can be used anywhere that a shock-absorbing, spike resistant, anti-skid surface is required, including fitness centers, golf pro shops, and dog training centers. It can be found in facilities all over the U.S. and Canada. This product is made of recycled tire rubber and Dandy Products claims that it provides excellent traction when wet or dry. Top Dog/Trac-Roll is available in different thicknesses between 1/4" and 3/4", and in solid black or black with color flecks. Reversible.

Contact: Dandy Products, Inc., 3314 State Route 131, Goshen, Ohio, 45122; 888-883-8386; dandypro@aol.com, www.dandyproducts.net.

Cost: $2 /sq ft.

Installation costs: Must be quoted per job. Can be self-installed without significant cost (40%-50 % of all purchases are self-installs).

Installation requirements: Install over clean, dry, smooth cement. Customers may glue the product down or tack it down with industrial carpet tape.

Warranty: 3-year warranty says that it is free of defects in material and workmanship, that the material meets specifications, and that it will not exhibit signs of excessive deterioration other than normal wear and tear.

Weight: A 4' x 50' x 3/8" roll weighs 350 lbs. (1.75 lbs/sq ft). Since rolls are available in different lengths and thicknesses, the weight of each roll will vary.

Ease of cleaning and maintenance: This flooring can be vacuumed, swept, and mopped with cleaners that are readily available, like Simple Green or something nonphosphorous based. Heavy detergents should be rinsed thoroughly to prevent residue or build-up. Avoid abrasive alkaline cleaners, petroleum products, and citrus-based products (including lemon).

Comments:

Denise Thomas, owner of Countryside Agility in Fairview, Pennsylvania, has had Top Dog for six years: “We hold 25-30 classes a week plus 15 trials a year and occasional seminars. It’s held up extremely well as far as not breaking down and you can’t hurt it with equipment moving or heavy use, but it did get slippery after about five years so we flipped it over. That was the good part was that it is the same on both sides. I did find it to be a little too hard for my liking for my own dogs that train there regularly so when we flipped it we put down foam tiles underneath it (see photo on left). Now I am quite happy with it.

It’s extremely easy to clean; we use a leaf blower several times a week to get the hair off and a Zamboni-type machine to scrub the floors about every two weeks. I would purchase it again even though I would prefer more cushion. I don’t know what else could hold up to the heavy usage we put it through. We are thinking perhaps mopping it with bleach water could have possibly caused the change in the floor surface so now only use water and are trying more frequent scrubbings using a machine that extracts the water from the floor so the dirt is being lifted off the floor instead of just being pushed around.”

White Bourland, from the Queen City Dog Training Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, has had the 3/8" floor since January 2004: “[Cleaning is] very easy now that we have solved the problem. Consequences of misdirected cleaning was slipping by large dog in agility trials...we think by using the wrong brush on the auto-scrubber that we were just polishing the floor. Through experimentation we have come up with our present maintenance system: sweep weekly with the 30" vacuum, scrub two to three times per month with a wet NSS auto scrubber using only hot water and a Niagara Blue Cleaning pad. 10,000 sq ft takes us one hour.”

Bourland says that the club would purchase the flooring again but would add underlayment.

Patti Jo Yuswak, from the Wisconsin-Illinois Agility Group (WAG) in Spring Grove, Illinois: “We love it. We left our old matting down then put another layer of padding and then the Trac-roll. We are very happy with it. It was easy to put in and easy to clean. I haven’t heard anyone complaining about it; even after standing on it for two hours instructing your legs don’t hurt. We just have to make sure not to leave any standing liquid of any sort as it is more porous [than our previous floor,] I believe.”

Tru-Blue Agility Mats

Tru-Blue Agility Mats are water-resistant, interlocking, EVA closed-cell foam tiles with a non-slick finish that offer, as their website states, “wonderful traction.” The 7/8" thick, 40" x 40" tiles were made with agility in mind but are also suggested for other purposes, including indoor children’s facilities and playgrounds. According to company owner Jeanne Emge, unlike other EVA agility mats, these mats do not create static electricity. Reversible.

Contact: EMGE Services, 142 Railroad Ave, Westminster, Maryland, 21157; 800-467-7321; jeanne@earthhorse.com, www.earthhorse.com.

Cost: Approximately $21/tile. Price varies; call for quantity discounts or discounted, slightly used tiles.

Installation costs: Can be self-installed without significant cost.

Installation requirements: Sub-floor should be a hard level surface. To install, simply lay down mats and interlock them. No glue or tape is required.

Warranty: 1 year

Weight: 8 lbs/tile

Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Sweep or vacuum up loose dirt and use a mild detergent solution or even plain water to clean up accidents or spills.

Comments:

Nancy Morris, from Oriole Dog Training Club in Baltimore, Maryland: “This is the best matting that we have found.” ODTC has trials at the Maryland County Fairgrounds and transports Tru-Blue agility mats to the site and installs it every time they have an event. “It takes two six-hour days putting it down; it’s not that hard,” she says. In fact, they hire students to do it with the help of adult supervision. Nancy says that flooring ODTC used previously had a lot of static electricity. “[Tru-Blue] has next to none,” she says.

Click the links to see dogs using Tru-Blue Agility Mats:

www.arielagility.com/videoplayer.php?recordID=644

www.arielagility.com/videoplayer.php?recordID=640

5Wrolstad, R.E., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Food and Science and Technology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Or. Private conversation.


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