Hold That Line!

I’ve maintained for a long time that one of the most difficult sequences that judge might offer up is the long straight line. Often a judge will design a course for beginner / novice players with long straight lines as though he’s done a favor for everyone… but everyone with a dog that’s actually faster than the handler knows that the long and straight line can be deadly.

I’ll refer to one of the laws of a dog in motion: A dog forward of the handler will tend to curl back to the handler’s position. So keeping the line straight is a particularly daunting task.

How Does a Handler Beat a Dog in a Foot Race?


This is the course that we’ll likely run on our Thursday night Fun Run here at Country dream. It is not the kind of thing that I would usually design. But I’m presently fascinated with both handling and training implications of a straight line of obstacles and so I will have to inflict this particular torture on my students.

How does a handler beat a dog in a foot race? Well it’s really quite simple actually. We cheat. If you think about it the lead out is a simple cheat that give the handler an initial advantage in real estate. Always with a lead out there is a “know thy dog” element. The handler should understand how fast the dog will come off the line and how quickly the dog will overtake his position.

In the opening line of this course the dog has over 100′ in the straight away from jump #1 to the pipe tunnel at #6. And it is a straight, unbending, and unforgiving line.

The point at which the handler is most likely to lose his dog is between jump #4 and the tire at #5. The #7 jump will loom into the dog’s field of view; so if the handler is behind the dog and if the handler has dog on right (which he is likely to do) then the dog may naturally curl in to the wrong course jump.

I would love to do a blow by blow of this course. But I think I’m going to save some of the narrative until I’ve seen a few dogs run it. I’ve already set the course in my building.

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at www.dogagility.org/store.


One Response to “Hold That Line!”

  1. Deb Says:

    I’d do a 4 jump leadout, since it’s a straight line and my dog doesn’t knock bars to get to me. The harder thing is that the tunnel is the turning obstacle and the 7-8 jump-tunnel is where I’d have *my* own personal crash with Kyra the Cannonball. 🙂 Wish I had space to set it up – it would be a hoot.

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