Kory in the X-Pen

Last night was a lot of fun. It was our fun-run night so a half dozen or so students showed up to run course or play a game and they were joined by my campers. Only one of my campers played the game as I had them exhausted from a pretty tough day of work. We played Dare to Double, a TDAA favorite, and invented by Darlene Woz. After everybody played the “I just want to survive and barely understand the rules entertainment round”… I gave the absolute killer Dare to Double briefing. And everybody’s score was at least doubled. (Well it is Dare to Double, after all).

We finished the evening around the campfire with beer and hotdogs and sat up on the side of the hill in the shade enjoying the cool beauty of the evening.

For a couple of my own students this has been an important week. Jackie with her Min Pin Baxter returns from the TDAA trial in Cincinnati having had more fun and a more successful weekend than she’s had in a long time. That’s what playing in a venue in which agility is only a game will do for you.

Vicki with her magnificent little Beagle Elmer had a terrible run in the game last night. And I was delighted. I know that sounds wrong… so let me explain. What happens to Vicki in competition is that Elmer is scarcely controllable; he bails his contacts, he’s hard to turn and direct and occasionally drops bars. In class, however, he’s this fast and magnificent little athlete. He sticks his 2o/2o contacts and blisters the most technical things I can set up.

Our fun runs aren’t class. And I will refrain from coaching before I see how everybody does in the game or on the course. I learned this thing many years ago at Dogwood that I could not follow all of my students every weekend in four different directions to see how they were all doing in competition. League Play served to demonstrate to me the competitive creature. It’s one thing to lah de dah through a series of training sequences. But if you make it a game! Keep score! Put a stopwatch on the team! Now the true competitive creature comes out. And I ain’t talking about the dog.

I told Vicky that I was encouraged by what I saw. This, I can work with. What she does is a completely common error in agility. I can see her mind racing as she works thinking three or four obstacles down the course. However the handler shouldn’t live three or four obstacles down the course… the handler has to live with the current obstacle. It’s what I call meat and potatoes handling. It’s nothing fancy. You know how to do the job. Don’t be in a hurry. Be disciplined. Work your course.


I think I told you last week that Marsha promised to turn Kory into a momma’s boy while I was away judging USDAA. So I resolved to have Kory with me throughout camp doing leash work even as I lecture, or chilling in the X-pen. Ah, so what I found out straight away is that Kory elected to be an overstimulated heathen in the X-pen jumping up against the wire and even trying to climb out. Of course the instinct of those sitting nearby (campers) would be to go over and interact with him while he was being ill-behaved thereby rewarding the behavior.

So Marsha joined us the first day and set about training dog (and campers). When Kory jumps up against the wire of the X-pen you turn your back on him and deny him the reward of attention. If you approach him in the X-pen and he sits or lies down, then you can tell him what a good boy he is and maybe even give him a bit of string cheese.

Ah, clever little fellow. By the end of camp week he has become the model of X‑pen good behavior. If I even so much as look at him he’ll settle and put his waggy little butt on the floor.

I know this sounds like maybe I’ve lost the momma’s boy/daddy’s boy contest. I’ve got to say that there are things that are more important. And besides, the first thing Marsha said to me when I got back from Texas was something like “Oh my god! Take this dog!” LOL

Yeah, puppies are a lot of work. I’m having a lot of fun with it though. I feel completely energized by working with this clever little boy.


I think I said yesterday that my pup Kory is cuter than Nancy’s NNP. I’ll tell you what though… that is one cute puppy she has. So I should back off the assertion and content myself with this thought. At least my boy doesn’t attack my feet while I walk.

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.


2 Responses to “Kory in the X-Pen”

  1. Michelle Says:

    So Bud, how about sharing that killer D2D briefing?
    BTW, I think Kory is cuter than Nancy’s pup also, although Nancy’s is cute also, I’d give Kory a 10 and Nancy’s a 9. Of course my Elvis exceeds the scoring paddles with an 11!


    • budhouston Says:

      You’re right Michelle, I should share that briefing. Dare to Double is an old JFF game that we played any number of times in League Play at Dogwood. And of course it’s a game I’ll put up at camps so that I can talk about masterful point accumulation strategies.

      Thanks for the note!


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