That Don’t Make No Sense!

I’m almost reluctant these days to venture how I would solve any agility riddle. In general I believe in movement that is natural and sublime. For all of that, I’m a basic meat and potatoes kind of handler. Mostly it’s a matter of running, making timely cues, and showing the dog where to go. My reluctance to state what I find obvious comes from the notion that I’d be contradicting conventional (usual, predictable, conformist) wisdom. You know, I get in a lot of trouble for being contrary.

Here’s a riddle that will create about a 50% fail rate in traditional handling “systems”.

Before you read my solution below, you should study the course map and arrive at your own conclusions as to how it should be handled. That will give you the superior position for writing a note of complete disagreement with me.


I’m sorry… this is a four option discrimination puzzle (five, if you actually count the right side of the green pipe tunnel).

I’ll give you my solution. What I really should do is give the analysis. But it would give you brain freeze the way ice cream does on a hot day and you eat it too cold and too fast. See, I even have an answer to that. I am a man who microwaves his ice cream. Surely that is a study for another day.

It is my contention that a discrimination has two essential handler positions: 1) the blocking position and 2) the body magnet position. When the handler approaches a discrimination with multiple options then he must take both the blocking and the body magnet positions.

So I say, the handler approaches the discrimination with dog-on-left to assume a blocking position on the wrong course jump (#4) and uses an RFP (counter-rotation) as supplemental insurance to the attractive body magnet position. The counter rotation draws the dog neatly in… and the handler stuffs him into the pipe tunnel. End of exercise.

It would be desirable for the handler to be able to press forward while his dog is engaged in the performance of the weave poles. That allows the handler to assume a control position forward of the dog. If the handler cannot leave the dog to an independent performance then by all means make a race of it, and remember that your timing events are identical. And it would not be uncommon for a handler to be able to pull this one out of his proverbial.

I’m so sorry… is there another challenge in this sequence that you find interesting? The gentle threadle is a discussion for another day.

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


3 Responses to “That Don’t Make No Sense!”

  1. Greg S Says:

    Fun challenge – I was just talking with my wife last week wondering why we don’t ever see tunnel/tunnel discriminations on course.

    • budhouston Says:

      Hey Greg,

      I’ve put such things in my courses in the past. It creates a very interesting argument with the course reviewer who’ll point out “that don’t make no sense”.

      If you think about it the simple U-shaped pipe tunnel is a tunnel/tunnel discrimination.


      • Greg S Says:

        Thats a good point Bud. I remember once a couple years ago, I saw two tunnels in a U shape right next to each other, such that they formed a W shape, and you were required to take the proper entry into the middle of the W. As I recall, there was considerable complaining going on by the competitors!

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