A Simple Introduction to Layering

The Glossary of Dog Agility Terms defines layering as: “A distance-handling maneuver, which is particularly useful when a group of obstacles is clustered tightly together. The handler directs the dog to execute one obstacle while another obstacle is between him and the dog (the handler is staying on the outer “layer”).” Oh my! Who wrote that definition? It’s probably correct, but so badly written that the mind boggles.


This illustration shows what might be the typical handling for the numbered sequence (we’ll for a moment ignore the possibility that the handler will draw the dog to jump #5 for a Back Cross).

The Front Cross from jump #4 to jump #5 could be quite messy. I like to tell my students “the dog turns when the handler turns not where the handler turns.” When the handler is sitting on the dog’s head at the moment of the Cross in can be sloppy with the dog careening off the handler’s legs, and so forth. The real question has to be… how does the handler get a comfortable advantage in real estate?


The same thing happens coming back the other way… and we’re assuming here that the handler can actually win the footrace to be forward of the dog for a Front Cross on the landing side of jump #9.


This is really the same sequence and the same movement. The only thing different is that the handler has chosen to work at a comfortable lateral distance from the dog, layering to the opposite side of the dummy jump shown between and above jumps #3 and #4. Really the handler is only 10′ or 12′ off the dog’s path, but moving parallel. Note that by layering the handler has a comfortable advantage in real estate to conduct the Front Cross.


The same logic applies on the return trip. The handler establishes a path of movement parallel to the dog’s path on his exit from the pipe tunnel. Note that after jump #8 the handler can (and should) take an oblique path matching the dog’s subtle turn to jump #9 and improve the advantage in real estate.


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.


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