Today I am in central Pennsylvania doing a 2-day handling seminar for the Nittany Dog Training Club. I hope I spelled that right. It has rather more working spots than I’m comfortable with. So I’m on my toes all day keeping things going so that folks sitting don’t get completely cold.

We had a players dinner this evening in the steak-house adjacent to the hotel I’m staying in. It was fun. The serving lady tried to about 20 drinks to our table on one tray, lost her balance and dropped the whole thing. About half the people in this seminar have trained with me before, somewhere down the line. It makes for a relaxing evening to hang out and catch up on what’s going on in their lives.

I’m arranging to get my new pup tomorrow. It’s a bit problematic with me being in Pennsylvania and all. The breeder is in Virginia and will be on her way tomorrow for a herding trial down in Kentucky. Marsha is going to keep tabs on them as they travel in a big motor-home, and intends to intercept at a roadside park about 15 or 20 miles west of Charleston, West Virginia. At that time I’ll be heading home and will probably get to the house about an hour after Marsha gets back. My route is about 6 hours of driving.

Naturally I virtually dreaming of puppy dog training topics and how this dog represents a new passage in my life. I’ve pretty much decided I’m going to go home and review the Susan Salo articles in Clean Run. And I’ll probably spring for her DVD series as well. I’ve observed more and more that one of the most overlooked of all agility obstacles is the simple jump. The jump is the most omnipresent of all agility obstacles, and yet it is one that gets the least of our attention. I have great interest in reviewing her study of teaching a dog to understand his job with jumps. We fool ourselves into thinking that a dog understands how to jump because he’ll hurl himself over a jump bar. I think I want something more than that.

Of course I’ll likely do cavaletti work and compressed jump chutes (an exercise I call the Australian triple).

I traveled this way with my two girls Hazard and Blue. They didn’t get out on the floor too much today except at breaks. That happens with a seminar is overfull. Hazard is in a shy state because of the big and exuberant dogs in the group. I’m starting to accept that this is a lifetime condition.

I’ve been following along with agility training theory that seems prevalent in our sport today that maintains that the relentless working dog is a function of stimulating the prey drive in the dog. This feeds to the tug toy reinforcement of basic performance and so forth. Frankly I’m slightly alarmed by this trend and I am of a mind that the sport is becoming dangerous for small dogs that might be viewed as prey…

I need to get to bed now. Kill Bill is on the TV. And that’s probably too much background craziness what with thoughts of prey drive and all.

So I leave you with this thought… can I bring up a new pup who has natural drive and a joyful spirit without turning him into a dangerous predator? How do I exercise responsible dog management? I’m sorry. I have a thousand more questions. But like I said, I need to get to bed now.

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 “Passages”

  1. Debbie Says:

    Bud, Just treat your new pup like any other dog. I too fell into the “but he’s a BC, and I must be extra careful!” Not. Your breeder will be invaluable for specific questions if he exhibits any behavior that befuddles you – but I suspect you’ll be fine.

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