Private Lessons

I have a semi-private session set for Tuesday evening in which I have a mandate to address contact, weave, and table issues.


This is an adaptation of a Ruth Hobday setup for training obstacle discrimination. This setup should do just fine. There’s a lot of stuff you can do with this set of equipment.


The most persistent issue I see with contact training is the handler / dog trainer’s ragged insistence on insinuating himself into the context of the performance. If I have a command for bottom, at some point I have to start asking the question to the dog “Do you know how to do this?” But, if you are shaping and fussing and micromanaging, then you aren’t asking the question at all. You are making yourself a part of the performance and probably retarding the dog’s ability to actually learn by offering.


The thing that bugs me the most about watching a handler deal with the weave poles is the constant correction of the dog for errors in the weave poles; unbalanced by the failure to reward the dog for a correct performance. The clever dog trainer will reward at a ratio 5:1 over correction. Of all agility obstacles the weave poles is the obstacle most likely to have this imbalance.

If a dog is a good weaver I would very much like to work on advanced skills. In this exercise, for example, I should like to practice back-crossing the dog on the approach to #10.


The table will be a common feature of all the exercises that we do. Table troubles usually stem from the misconception of the dog’s trainer that the table performance is a single performance or behavior when in fact it is a chain of related behaviors. Understanding which part or parts are broken is key to making the table an asset rather than a liability. These are the five behaviors in the table chain:

  • The approach
  • Attention
  • Assuming the position
  • Holding the position
  • Release

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at

2 Responses to “Private Lessons”

  1. Erica Says:

    More, please……

  2. Tomas Haylett Says:

    Clicker training helps a dog trainer teach canines more complex tricks. Training a dog without a clicker can be a bit daunting.

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