Relating Obstacle Focus to Distance Training

From time to time a student in camp or seminar will tell me that they have a certified Velcro dog. Of course my response is typically that Velcro is a two-part fabric, and it takes both parts for a good stick.

Part of curing the sticky Velcro-dog is to teach him to keep his head down and work and that he has permission to work aside or ahead without momma constantly looming over each and every obstacle to make the presentation. Frankly the thing that most contributes to making him sticky in the first place is momma always being entwined in the context of every presentation. It is better to cure this relatively early in the dog’s training. You get what you pay for. If you teach the dog to run along at your knee and perform each obstacle as you labor to lean over it and point at it… then you will own exactly that.


Where we left this exercise was the handler introducing the two jump performance while sending the dog to the first jump from the 3 O’clock position and then training the dog to finish his work with a progressive lessoning of pressure against the dog’s path. More and more we’re releasing the dog to do his work while the handler gives only modest pressure.

Take note however that the dog’s trainer should begin to work back up the clock-face so that now we can practice sending the dog away in a dead-away send. As always be mindful that when in dog training mode you should be meticulous in marking the desired behavior and rewarding the dog. There is no sense in wasting a good opportunity to reinforce highly desirable performance.

What we need to do next is review the “exploding pinwheel” or “own the pinwheel” exercises as a logical extension of the foundation work that we’ve done here.

Return to Dogwood

Yesterday Marsha and I drove up early in the morning to show Hazard and Blue at the TDAA trial at Dogwood. Marsha was along mostly because I’d bunged up my knee and couldn’t move so well. The only event that I handled was the “Box Game” which is a variation of Jumplers which not only allowed but required me to stay inside a box while sending my dog out to work.

Marsha was great with both dogs. She’s been recovering for the last couple of years from her own knee injury and has been on a swimming program to help strengthen the knee. And it has apparently paid off. Moreover the diminutive scale of the TDAA course isn’t nearly so demanding on a handler’s movement as are courses in the big dog venues.

Sally Boarman as done a terrific job maintaining my old training center. What a wonderful trial site for the TDAA! I got to see a bunch of people I haven’t seen in awhile. I was also delighted to inspect most of the old trees that I had planted. There’s something about watching a tree grow that you planted with your own hands that gives you the feeling that you’ve contributed something to the world that will be here after you’ve gone.

A New Pup?

There might be a new pup in my future. I’ll give you more information if and as it develops.

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

One Response to “Relating Obstacle Focus to Distance Training”

  1. Michelle Says:

    New pup?? Hope it’s a toy poodle or Maltese!!

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