Notes from the Mini-Clinic

I apologize for not posting to my blog for a couple days. I’ve got huge chores outside. Running from project to project pretty much fills my day. Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by it all. I got my chipper shredder fixed. I’ve been working on a big pipe of limbs and branches mostly cleaned up from the ice storm this past winter. Man, I had no idea it was such a bunch of work. Practically speaking my only real training with a chipper/shredder was that I actually watched the movie Fargo. I’m learning to work smart as I go along.

We had a ripping good mini-clinic yesterday. I think I wore everybody out. I’m sorry Mark and Maggie weren’t here… because I had a couple exercises designed specifically to torture them. But I’ll take the long view and find a more opportune moment for the torture.

Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few of my exercise notes with you; more to be published on the morrow.


The point of this exercise is the little technical Tandem from the dogwalk at #6 to the pipe tunnel at #7. I’ve been working with a group of mixed skills and experience. So for some it’s a simple refresher and proofing of the skill. For others, I might have to show them how to shape a Tandem (turn away from the handler’s position) on the flat. And then, in the moment of the technical Tandem it’s basically the same skill being applied to a moment in space.

For students who have an unambiguous finish on the dogwalk it’s sometimes harder to get the dog to turn cleanly away. Surely the Tandem is actually a simpler matter while the dog is in motion. By definition in the 2o2o the dog is not in motion.


This is a continuation of the previous exercise and is probably the same skill. A thing that I’ve found over the years is that if I precue my intention for my dog to turn away (into the pipe tunnel especially)… even the greatest cowabunga dog will probably slide right down through the yellow in anticipation of the turn.


A thing that I’ve been concerned about with my own students is the pipe tunnel to A-frame transition shown in this sequence. We see this from time to time in competition. And often it leads to a presentation of the A-frame that isn’t very square or in which the dog doesn’t have a sufficient approach to get up and over without losing steam on the up-ramp. You can often hear the dog’s nails clawing against the ramp when he hasn’t been given a square or running start.

So my lesson in this sequence was a discussion of where to put the corner of approach and how to actually conduct the dog to that corner before turning back. You know it’s not going to go well when the handler is facing back into the dog as he comes out of the tunnel, already signaling the dog to turn.


The transition from the pipe tunnel at #3 to the dogwalk is a very different kind of skill than if it were the A-frame, as in the previous discussion. The slope of the dogwalk is much gentler, and the dog doesn’t need much approach at all. What I teach my students to do for this transition is to fade to the opposite side of the tunnel after the dog gets in, assuming a station more in the center of the dogwalk. Then, when the dog comes out of the tunnel he is perfectly capable of getting his own feet up onto the dogwalk ramp without a lot of meddling or micromanagement from the handler.


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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