Last of the Mohicans – a Vision of the Natural Handler

A number of years ago I invented the game we call “Last of the Mohicans” in an effort to give my Novice students a serious attitude adjustment about their mission and methods for simple sequencing in dog agility. I really wanted to bring an end to the compulsive habit of any handler of correcting the dog for every error of direction and presentation.

The rules of the game are simple… should the handler ever stop while on course the Indians will catch him and scalp him. Should the handler ever go back to fix the dog’s approach to a missed obstacle… well, that’s running back to the Indians, so they will catch him and scalp him.

We ran the game in camp this afternoon. And I had this wonderful vision of handler’s practicing their craft in as pure and natural manner as possible. The dog never gets corrected for missing an obstacle. Fear of being scalped is a wonderful motivator!

But you know it’s abundantly clear to everyone watching that there were no errors made by the dogs. Every dog responds as honestly and naturally as possible to the cues and movements of the handler. If something is missed then it is the handler who missed it. And so it is such a relief that the dogs are not corrected for every error of the handler. Dogs have considerably more fun and the handler has an opportunity to learn something important… like how good they are at directing their dogs while at a full run.

Isn’t that the game we want to practice?

The Minuet


Tomorrow we will begin the day with this minuet… which came to me in a vision. The minuet is a simple exercise in which the handler repeats a sequence with his dog until the expiration of a specific period of time.

I’ll have some teaching to do on the handling of the sequence (or so I figure). I’ll be interested early on in how handlers deal with the 270° turn from jump #2 to jump #3. A most interesting part of the overall is probably the #4 through #6. The handler has some obligation to create an approach to jump #5 that sets the dog up for a fair look at jump #6.

A Note on Scoring this Minuet

I want to play with giving weighted QCT numbers to dogs of different jump heights. This is the model we’re toying with for use in background scoring at the TDAA Petit Prix.

12      36

8        40

4        48

Note that since time is used as a tie-breaker… then the final time must be adjusted by the amount of the initial fudge for the purpose of comparison. For example… a 4” dog that scores 4.1 in 52 seconds would have a recorded score of 4.1 in 40 seconds.


OMG! They make clothing that allows you to make a public display of your IQ.


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


5 Responses to “Last of the Mohicans – a Vision of the Natural Handler”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Wish my courses would come to me in a vision!!
    Glad to see you experimenting with the PP scoring; we’ll need some really good intructions for the score table. I am excited about this scoring change as I think it puts all dogs on equal footing.
    How do you find those websites like the T shirts?? Maybe we should order one for a door prize for the PP? LOL It could become the white elephant that is passed from PP to PP. LOL
    Geez, I must be getting tired.
    Wish I was at your camp this week, ok , any week. You need to open a Country Dream West, and oh yeah, clone yourself to instruct.


    • budhouston Says:

      Hey Michelle,

      For sure our weighted numbers for Petit Prix scoring are a complete SWAG. But I am inclined to want to test numbers that give the smallest guys a greater boost than I’d originally contemplated. It’s good having Don Wolff here so that we can talk about how the automated system is going to deal with this experiment in scoring.

      Clone me? Hey… does that mean I can start over at like age 14?


  2. Michelle Says:

    Yea, 14 is good. What would you do differently???
    Let us (me and Paul and Diane) know how the scoring experiment goes.
    Wish I understood computer software better; my brain just does’t compute like those machines!


  3. Angie Says:

    Wow, that’s kind of a tough minuet, Bud. I’m glad I didn’t have to run that one. Skeeter would have been biting my ankles for sure! Tell Don and Vicki hi for me.

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