Painting the Floor

When training adults the instructor often seeks a description or an analogy that helps the student understand an advanced concept. One method that we frequently use is an idea called “Painting the Floor”.

Let’s take a bit of technical advice for the handler directing his dog over a jump that requires a 180° turn after. We’ll typically say something like this in the lesson plan: “Remember that any time you do a 180° turn on a jump the crossing turn should include a tracking step to bring the dog out around the jump before doubling back. Otherwise the dog may back-jump the jump.”

To the Novice handler this might be just so much technical jargon. Let’s take another approach to make it clearer to the student. Follow along.


In the approach to the jump the handler should work in a nice straight line. Work through the jump. Paint the line until the dog commits up and over the jump. 


Now turn and paint the dog a path around the wing. This is basically just a 90° turn intended to get the dog around to the outside. As soon as the handler turns and moves, the dog will do so as well. 


Finally, as the dog has come around the wing of the jump, the handler will turn back towards the dog, picking the dog up on the opposite lead. 

Tick and Tack

Just as a dog training note: It is actually better to teach a dog to naturally turn back around the wing of a jump so that it isn’t a handling event. However, inasmuch as most dog trainers in agility take no such actual training step it is profitable to understand the dog’s path in order to take the correct handling steps. Good handling will support the dog in instances of poor training to a greater extent than good training will support the dog in instances of poor handling.

Choose to Heel

Well I’ve been training Kory for a day and a half now using a “choose to heel” protocol. I think I’m ready for my first trial. LOL

This is very simple training, I’ll reach down and pop a kibble of his meal in his mouth when he’s right alongside my leg moving with me. He’s quickly learned that if he forges ahead that he needs to slow down and swing his butt back around to straighten up moving the direction that I’m moving.

The left sided turns are a bit more problematic. If I move too slowly he’ll abruptly sit. Of course that’s a desirable behavior if I actually come to a stop. But in general what it really means to me is that I need to keep up an active pace. Marsha tells me that I’m doing my sit finishes and my left hand turns way too early in the training. But I never was intending to go ahead so fast, except that he seems to get it and I’m gonna take anything I get for free… or at least for cheap.

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

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