On Making Art

I put up this really fun exercise up at Rondout. It turned out to be considerably more difficult than I expected. Many handlers will see the necessity for using a counter rotation to draw the dog around the dummy jump between jump #2 and the pipe tunnel at #3. The RFP is hunky dory for avoiding the jump, but is a poor tool at the red man position for solving the discrimination ahead.


The RFP is a control movement and therefore requires a control position. And if this sequence has a control position it is at the blue man position.

For a very long time I have asserted that “the dog turns when the handler turns”. This is an interesting test case for what I consider to be one of the Laws of a Dog in Motion.

Can the handler actually cause the dog to miss the dummy jump by using a counter-rotation from a position near the A-frame/pipe tunnel? Well, we put it to a pretty strong test. The success rate was virtually flawless. I intend now to test the concept on several hundred more dogs.


I’ve made it about half-way home front Rondout,  stopping in the narrow sliver of Maryland that divides Pennsylvania from West Virginia. I should make it home about noonish tomorrow.

The hotel I stayed at in NY was a well-maintained throwback to a sort of 1950s grandeur; though I had the distinct impression that I was away from civilization for the weekend. While the hotel touted a WiFi connection it didn’t actually work in my room. And it was nonetheless problematic to work on my computer when all of the electric plugs in my room were two-pronged.

To post my blog last night I went up to the lobby last evening where the signal was adequate to get me connected to the internet.

It was good seeing Sue Sternberg and her crew. Sue’s been training with me for so long now that I amuse myself to invent new exercises and riddles for her. I’m always intrigued to study how my students apply what they’ve learned.

So sorry, I’m  tired now and need to get my old butt into bed.


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 “On Making Art”

  1. Jon Says:


    I tried that course last night with both my dog and my wife’s dog. First try with my dog, I used your blue handler position and a false turn (RFP) with no verbal as the dog was clearing Jump 2. My dog did go over the third jump. Second try, I tried moving back a couple of feet laterally away from the tunnel and used a false turn with a verbal cue and my dog did bypass the third jump and entered the tunnel.

    I then tried with my wife’s dog. All tries from the blue position failed even if I moved laterally away from the tunnel and used verbal commands. The only way I could get my wife’s dog to bypass the third jump was to do a false turn at or slightly before the third jump. I think there were three reasons that my wife’s dog didn’t react to a false turn at distance. One, I don’t run my wife’s dog that much so the body language communication between us may be weak. Two, she usually drives her dog from behind so the front cross signals may be weaker than in my dog. Three, her dog is younger and more obstacle focused.

    I didn’t have any problems getting the tunnel from the red position with either dog, but then my dog prefers the tunnel to a contact obstacle anyway.

    Is there any venue where such a long distance between obstacles would be allowed?

    • budhouston Says:

      Hi Jon,

      It’s too bad you didn’t have eyes on you as you worked. I find it notable that you call the movement a “false turn”… because in my lexicon, there’s nothing “false” about it at all. Also, the RFP is a movement, so I am always moving through space as I conduct it. It is inescapable that rotation alone often enough does not suffice.

      Nonetheless, a dog with strong obstacle focus might very well tag the third jump and will conduct his work there without much reference to the handler. So you should consider the exercise an experiment in pressure in which we learn something vital.

      This is snookeresque in nature. Certainly I’ve used my share of RFP movements to conduct my dog across course in the avoidance of obstacles. And you are right, most agility organizations are rigid and nearly hum-drum boring in their definition of space between obstacles.


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