The Bootlace

One of the basic configurations that I like to use for teaching movement in agility is the bootlace. It’s a practical, simple, down-and-back over jumps to a U-shaped pipe tunnel.


This is the kind of sequence that gives this arrangement of obstacles its name. You’ll note that the handler is obligated to draw the dog from one lane to the other going down (#2 to #3) and coming back (#5 to #6). This is rather like lacing up a boot.

More often than not this becomes a practical exercise for the Front Cross.


I haven’t gotten very far from Front Crosses in this renumbering of the sequence. Though surely this will give me an opportunity to talk about the dog’s natural turning direction. And, it might surprise you how many people will lose their dogs into the wrong end of the pipe tunnel at #5. So I might also talk about strategies for tightening the turn and straightening the line from #3 to #4.

A sequence like this can be problematic to the handler of a fast dog. In the opening the handler can avail himself to a lead-out. However, once getting the dog into the pipe tunnel the handler might want to consider a fast dog handling option in the turn from jump #7 to #8. You can’t do a Front Cross if you aren’t actually in front of the dog.


I also like to do the parallel path test in the bootlace configuration of obstacles. The dog tends to move in a path parallel to the handler’s path. We can test this presumption by asking the handler to layer to the opposite side of the #1-#3 jumps while the dog performs #5 through #7 away. Frankly a number of dogs will tuck in to be nearer to the handler.

If my dog won’t allow me to layer at a distance, I would endeavor to teach it.



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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