Archive for January, 2010

Lucky 13

January 31, 2010

Lucky 13 comes to us from league play competition conducted by Northwest Agility League ~ sponsored by Columbia Agility Team. It is essentially a variation of the game as “12 Tone Row” with a couple of important differences.


The object of Lucky 13 is to collect as many points as possible while correctly performing a total of 13 obstacles – no more, no less – with the thirteenth obstacle being the tire. The course design is up to the handler. Each obstacle is assigned a direction and value indicated by the cone next to it. Some obstacles may have two different point values indicated by the cones.

Good natured help by teammates is allowed.

Maximum course times are 50 seconds for big dogs and 55 seconds for small dogs. Scoring begins at the designated start line and ends at the table which is not counted as an obstacle.


  • If the dog correctly performs more than 13 obstacles, only the first 13 count for points;
  • Each obstacle done correctly over OR under 13 incurs a special fault;
  • Each bi-directional obstacle (as indicated on course map) may be done once in each direction for points. Each direction correctly performed will count as one of the thirteen obstacles required;
  • Repeated obstacles will not count for the obstacle count or assigned obstacle points;
  • The tire must be the thirteenth obstacle, done in either direction, to avoid a special fault. Note: the opposite tire direction may be used in the handler’s course design; and
  • The table is live at all times and stops the clock. No specific position is required on the table to stop the clock.

Notes on faulted obstacles:

  • Each faulted obstacle incurs 5 faults (missed contacts, knocked bars, etc.) and there are no failure to perform faults;
  • A faulted obstacle is not included in the count of 13 obstacles to be done; and may not be repeated for points.

Notes on special faults ~ Ten point faults assessed for:

  • Each obstacle MORE or LESS than the required 13; and
  • The tire NOT being the thirteenth obstacle.

Conduct of the Game

Judge calls ALL points for correctly performed obstacles during a run, including repeated obstacles;

Judge calls out “fault” for any faulted obstacles; and the scribe will record all obstacle numbers called including any repeated obstacles in the order called and indicating an ‘F’ when “fault” is called by the judge. For example, 6, 9 F, 3, 6, 4, 16, etc.

The scorekeeper should count the number of obstacles recorded, excluding any faulted and repeated obstacles, to determine if the thirteenth obstacle was the tire. Then the scorekeeper will add up the number of valid obstacle points and deduct any performance and special 10 point faults. An example of scoring follows.

  • The dog performed the obstacles and stopped the clock within the allowed time; and
  • The scribe sheet reads: 7, 12, 9, 11, F, 13, 16, 6, 5, 15, 2, 14, 6, 18, 2, 8.

Fourteen obstacles were correctly performed and the thirteenth obstacle was not the tire. One obstacle was faulted and one obstacle was repeated. These two obstacles were not counted. The total of the first 13 obstacles is 138 points. Then the following points are subtracted from the total: 5 faults for an obstacle fault: 10 points for doing one obstacle over the required 13 obstacles, and 10 points for the tire not being the thirteenth obstacle performed. The new point total would be 113 points. (138-5-10-10 = 113).

Based on the qualifying criteria (see below) this score would have been an adequate qualifying score for Games I, but not Games II or Games III.

Scoring and Qualification

Lucky 13 is scored Points Less Faults then Time.

To qualify the dog must earn:

  • Games I – 102 points
  • Games II – 128 points
  • Games III – 154 points

Editor’s Note: The course used in this document was loosely based on the Northwest Agility League course but adjusted for play in the TDAA.

Joker’s Notebook #2 ~ Feb 2010

I’ve been working all day tidying up loose ends in the second in this series, a notebook dedicated to teaching agility distance skills. This is a work that is suitable for the agility enthusiast training alone in the back-yard, or the agility training center that wants to deliver a quality distance training program.

As it happens the Notebook is also a good source for weekly games for anyone running league play. Though, as should be expected, the games in the Jokers Notebook have a distance theme.

You will note the name change. Inasmuch as the Clean Run has threatened legal action because they claim trademark ownership of the title “Go the Distance”. I’m going to avoid the awkward moment and continue to publish a less flawed and more dynamic product that properly reflects the advances in training methods since I wrote that book some ten years ago, with Stacy Peardot.

Although the name of the Notebook has changed since the first month, our mission is renewed and undiminished. In this the February 2010 Notebook I go beyond the simple lesson planning that was envisioned in “Go the Distance”. I have always planned on writing companion volumes to that work that exceed the original content. Distance training is not a static pursuit that can be mastered with a few basic exercises. Distance training is a dynamic thing, an ongoing and evolving mission.

It is my intention to publish the Notebook on a monthly basis. While it is not intended to be a sequential and methodical step-by-step tutorial; it will certainly explore in great detail a comprehensive variety of distance training skills for both the agility competitor and his or her dog. The Notebook will reflect and represent the scope of training as I provide in my own training center; and when I am conducting camp work at home, or seminar work on the road.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Try this one on for size:

Name three American presidents who were not buried in one of the 50 states.

First correct answer posted as a reply to this blog post wins a free copy of the February Distance Notebook.

Funny Drawing

This doesn’t mean anything and certainly is an unfinished work-in-progress. I just like the look of it.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – Feb 2010 available tomorrow:

Blame it on Sally!

January 29, 2010

We had a little sequence in class last night that provoked a rather high fail rate. The sequence features a blind approach to a jump (meaning that the handler needs to step in and shape the approach)… and a choice of directions in which to turn the dog. This was something I first saw back in about 1992 on a USDAA course designed by Sally Sheridan and put up in Phoenix, AZ. It looked like this:

Note that the handler has a choice of directions to turn his dog at  jump #3. Any time I’m faced with a choice of directions I’ll subject the puzzle to a bit of critical analysis.

  1. What is the natural turning direction for the dog? Almost surely, coming out of the weave poles the dog will take the jump at such an oblique angle that a turn to the right is the natural turning direction.
  2. Which direction offers more/less risk? Turning to the left offers creates the risk of a back-jump on jump #3 and gives the dog another good look at the weave poles. Further, the approach to the A-frame won’t be fair and square unless the handler steps up to sweeten the approach. Turning to the right offers no options and creates a natural square and safe approach to the A-frame.
  3. Which direction offers the shorter consequential path? The shorter path is probably to the left.

Answering the which-way-do-I-turn question doesn’t complete the riddle. How do you get it done from a handling point of view?

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

It struck me that google/bing searches on the internet make trivia questions very difficult to write, especially if the key words are in the questions. For example, I put my “four kings” question into and got several pages of the correct answer. And so now I am faced with the task of writing a trivia question that is not easy to look up by some smarty pants on the internet.

Try this one on for size:

In the movie Titanic Jack Dawson tells Rose (in the scene where he saves her from jumping)… something that can not be true. It is not so much a lie (about something he did as a boy); rather, the writer’s research on inland waterways was incomplete. What was it that Jack Dawson tells Rose that can not be true? And, why can it not be true?

First correct answer posted as a reply to this blog post wins a free copy of the February Distance Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

The Economics of the Agility Training Center

January 28, 2010

When I was in Calera, Oklahoma for the NADAC judges training Sharon Nelson engaged in about a 15 minute demonstration of rubberized contacts. She took a completely green dog that had never been on an A-frame and basically stirred him around on the plank of the full-height A-frame; up and down, back and forth, and around in cute little circles.

I learn by empirical experience. I have to see the proof of a thing before I’ll believe it. And, you know, I’ve seen tens of thousands of agility performances. It was clear to me from that one little demonstration that the rubberized contact is just about the only way to go for the dog’s safety and confidence. You know it’s a funny thing, if a dog feels out of control on a contact obstacle he’ll try to grip with his nails which exactly the wrong thing to do on a slick hard surface. We’ve all seen and heard the out-of-control dog scrabbling against an A-frame contact with his nails. But on this comfortable rubber surface the novice dog’s feet relaxed back so that he comfortably moved around on the pads of his feet. It was awesome.

Finally today I got on the phone with Teresa at I tallied up the precut parts to cover two dogwalks, a teeter, an A-frame, and a table. According to my calculations it comes up to 380.00ish, and that doesn’t include shipping. Nor does the quote include the 5 gal drum of contact cement; and nevermind labor… that’ll be me (which means that it’s free?)

So I’m muddling through where to get the cash for this transaction, or at the very least how I can place the order without telling Marsha. Oh heck, she’ll have time enough to find out about it when the rolls of rubber arrive.

Running a training center is a heck of a notion, financially. I’ve got about $100K in the building, maybe $10K in equipment; another $10K in the flooring. Most of this is being serviced by mortgage debt. After I sold my old training center I bought this property and all its standing structures outright. So at least those don’t weigh on us financially. There are routine costs associated with running such a property that aren’t always that obvious, including utilities, road maintenance, landscaping, and repairs on standing fixtures. Lordy, it all starts to add up.

I’m a piker compared to what some enterprising souls have committed to get in the dog training game. But I’ve moved (in what I keep calling my semi-retirement) to a part of the world that was hurting economically long before the Bush Depression started. And so we might have people inquire about obedience or agility lessons who’ll balk at the notion of paying $8 an hour for a couple months of training. It boggles the mind.

And yet, I remind myself, this life beats the hell out of working for a living, (no sarcasm or irony intended.)

Bud’s Trivia Corner

In what activity are you engaged if you are holding pictures of King David, Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great in your hands?

First correct answer posted as a reply to this blog post wins a free copy of the February Distance Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

Around the Clock… Now at 9:00

January 27, 2010

I got a good night’s sleep last night you’ll be happy to know. Read yesterday’s blog to understand why I needed the sleep.

Anyhow, I’ve been working all day at finishing up on the Go the Distance Workbook to be published in only a couple of days. I didn’t actually finish it. But, that’s what I’ve been working on. It’s actually quite a powerful collection of lesson plans. And I’m having a lot of fun with them.

At the same time, by the way, I’ve been teaching Kory “Left” and “Right” with the rewarding toss of a tennis ball. He’s at about 90% which is too cool for words. I certainly didn’t learn my left from my right as quickly as he has.

The week 9 lesson plan was devoted pretty much to the serpentine. If you follow my writing at all you’ll note that I don’t much approve of the handler who loves to work the serpentine from one side. Don’t get me wrong… I actually teach that to my students and to my student’s dogs. But I figure people seize to quickly on lazy handling habits without either understanding or conducting the proper training foundation. They’re just being lazy.

Anyhow, I used to do this thing with a long 5-jump serpentine with my boy Bogie when I was doing a seminar or teaching camp. I’d start him on the serpentine, and then immediately turn around and talk to the group. As I talked he’d go bip bip bip down the line of jumps, finishing the serpentine, without the least amount of support from me.

It was a fun trick. But trust me it was a trick that required a considerable training foundation. It occurred to me that I should share the training trick with ya’ll in case you ever want to showboat, don’t you know.

This training evolves from around the clock training. Around-the-clock is devoted to teaching a dog the independent performance of obstacles, which can otherwise be stated as “understanding the performance of an obstacle when the handler isn’t embedded in the context of presentation and performance.’”

Just remember, before you embark on this mission, you must do the foundation work in order to succeed. If it doesn’t work… it’s not showing off!

We start here addressing a jump at the 9:00 o’clock position. This is the most severe angle of presentation that one might take with a jump. And from a respectable 10′ distance the dog will clearly demonstrate to his handler/trainer that he understands the performance of the obstacle even when presented with so slight an approach.

As we add a new jump for performance we add a new and separate line that allows the handler to provide a couple of compelling steps towards the dog to sell the turn in a Tandem at a distance. Remember, the dog turns when the handler turns, not where the handler turns. There are a couple of carefully chosen pronouns in that sentence.

We evolve along to a three-jump serpentine. The handler doesn’t need to step quite so forcefully to sell the first turn, but is given a bit more room to sell from this now considerable distance… the second turn.

Note by the way that I’m using the counter-arm signal. You now… it’s reported that Susan Garrett calls the counter arm the “evil Ohio arm”. Well so be it (I live in Ohio). From any distance the counter arm helps to demonstrate the turn and push. This is a little harder to do with the subtle/wimpy inside arm signal.


I’m going to leave the rest to your imagination. When you can do this much with your dog… write me back, and I’ll publish the remainder.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

Chaining Fore and Aft

January 26, 2010

I’ve got to share with you some basic distance training I’ve been doing with my boy Kory. Mostly the intention of this training is “Go On!” an absolute directional which means “continue working in the direction you’re working and don’t wait for me!”

We begin with two hoops in the back yard. I’ll use the opportunity to fortify my “Stay” command as the training demands a lead-out. I’ll call him through the first hoops and take a single accelerating step as I present and direct him on to the second hoop. Note that over time I back up about 5′ at a time as he learns the valuable lesson that I’ll toss his Frisbee or tennis ball or navy blue octopus only if he goes on to finish this oh so short sequence.

Since we’ve already mastered the send through two hoops when I add the third hoop I don’t really have to start at square one; I can make the initial send from a spot corresponding to my long send with only two hoops. Once again, I move back about 5′ at a time. But I should point out that I that aggressive progression is in the drawing only and probably not in real life. In real life this drama has unfolded over the course of more than a week and I take little prudent progressive steps and often play the two steps forward and one step back game as I have to back-track to refortify the basic performance. All serious dog trainers know what I’m talking about.

Now I’m skipping right ahead to the five-hoop-send. While I’m here with this pretty picture allow me to introduce a strategic training element that I’ll likely use (oh… I haven’t progressed this far with Kory yet! Fancy that.) With hoops, I can compress the intervals between obstacles and have no worries about the dog’s ability to adjust stride. The hoop is a neutral performance obstacle. All the dog has to do is run through it; and no stride-adjusting required whatsoever. So, I can compress the hoops down to about a 10′ interval and gradually, over time, open them up to 20′ or even more.

I said from the onset that the skill I’m working on is the “Go on!” directional. Throughout the training with my boy I will study to use the “Go on!” command to describe what it is we are doing. Later on I will mix the directional skills with “Left” and “Right” and “Come” and “Get Out!” But these are stories waiting to be told at a future date.

A Word About Hoops

When I was at the NADAC judging clinic in Calera, OK I blurted out once without really thinking it through that there is no CRCD icon for the “hoop”. And everybody looked at me like I was a dim-wit step-child and informed me that there certainly is. Okay fine… so they use the tire icon for the hoop. [You get it? NADAC doesn’t use a tire. Thus the icon for the tire in CRCD is the de facto icon for the hoop in NADAC course design.]

Did I ever tell you that all agility people are crazy?

Anyhow, at least I’ll represent properly. When I include the hoop in a drawing I do use the tire icon. But I edit the tire properties so that the tire diameter is 30” and the overall width is 32”. Now it even looks like a hoop and is differentiatable as a distinct/unique obstacle to those of us who aren’t quite as crazy as them.

If you are crazy averse to incorporating hoops in your training of course you can use jumps, winged or not, in lieu of the hoops that I’m using in the illustrations above. And I fully intend to transfer this skill to jumps, and even other obstacles!

If you use the compression method of training the long send however, be sure to reduce the height of the jumps so that you don’t make the jumping unsafe for long-striding dogs who work in a carefree and quick manner.

Getting My Butt Sued

Yep, I feel very sorry for my butt right now because the Clean Run is claiming trademark ownership of “Go the Distance” and they promise to bring a legal action against me if I continue to publish my distance training series under the name “Go the Distance” as it is (they say) their trademark.

Last night I got absolutely no sleep worrying over this matter. That accounts for the breezy language of this web log entry I suppose. lol

I wrote back to the attorney who sent me a threatening letter something to this extent: “Go the Distance was never intended by me (co-author) to be a static project of a single volume or issue. As such it is an unfinished work. The authors of the original volume alone are obligated and entitled to continue the work.”

Hell, my problem is that I’m kind of old school and I’ve ever figured that I can get through life with a hand-shake verbal agreement and a spit in the dirt. But you know I’m getting reeducated all the time.

I’m probably going to be a chicken shit and back down on this. The legal system can be a blunt instrument served up against your head. I have no desire to have financial violence inflicted on my family. It doesn’t matter if I’m right. I’m in semi-retirement and don’t really have the wherewithal to afford a legal fight. So there it is.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

Jackpot Gamblers ~ Judge Needs to Catch a Plane Variation

January 25, 2010


The objective of this game is for the dog to accumulate 21 points as quickly as possible and then to perform the distance challenge. There will be no whistle to indicate the end of point accumulation.

Big dogs (22” and 26”) will have 45 seconds.

Small dogs (12” and 16”) will have 48 seconds.

Successful completion of the gamble shall be negated if:

  1. the dog faults an obstacle during performance of the gamble
  2. during point accumulation the dog drops the bar on a jump used in the gamble sequence
  3. the dog performs two gamble obstacles in flow direction during point accumulation
  4. a bar on a jump in the gamble is dropped during point accumulation
  5. the time whistle sounds before the dog has completed the gamble

Obstacles on field can be taken only twice for points. Back-to-back performance of any obstacle is allowed. The point values for obstacles are:

  • Jumps 1 point
  • Tunnels 3 points
  • Contact obstacles and weave poles 5 points


This game will be scored time only. In order to qualify, a point accumulation of at least 21 points is required and successful performance of the gamble. With these conditions met, the lowest time wins.

There is no benefit for scoring more than 21 points, and no penalty for doing so.

25 points are awarded for successful completion of the gamble.


Here’s a nifty variation of the (nearly) traditional gamblers game. In the interest of limiting the amount of time required to run the Jackpot/Gamblers class, the judge changed the scoring basis to “time only”. How would this work?

Given that 21 points and successful completion of the gamble are required to qualify, the win and all placements would be based on who could do so most quickly. While this variation removes the element of timing-to-the-approach which is an important part of the traditional game; it introduces an interesting strategy of finding the most efficient path for point accumulation.

The game would be played with a single whistle… this would be a combination of times that would ordinarily constitute the gamblers class. For example, in a 30 second point accumulation period given 15 seconds for performance of the gamble, the whistle will sound at 45 seconds. Of course this means if the whistle sounds the dog dig not qualify.

However, what we are more likely to find is that the whistle will seldom sound as the teams whip through the required point accumulation as quickly as possible and make the attempt on the gamble. As a consequence the class will move along with great efficiency.

What Do You Make of This?

Begin Course Designer
Version 3
For a free viewer, go to
End Course Designer

Once again… find in this set of the floor an interesting training exercise. Send it to me at The best answer will get the next issue of the Go The Distance Notebook for free. I’ll email it to you!

The best response will include permission for me to publish the exercise, and will be well documented and illustrated.

Winners List

Like I said, whoever has the best response will get the next issue of the Go The Distance Notebook for free.

In the What do You Make of This for Nested Gamblers (published two weeks ago at: the winner is Steve (Agility Nerd). You can see the work he did here: While he did not provide permission to publish or send me his email address, he provided a thoughtful solution to the contest. It strikes me that I should have pro / amateur categories. It wasn’t a fair contest at all.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

An Epiphany on Bending

January 22, 2010

As you probably know I’m engaged in inflicting upon my own students an ongoing curriculum for distance training. The theme for this week has been the “Out”… or Get Out if you prefer. The classical definition for Out is: a directional command asking the dog to increase lateral distance.

It dawned on me last night that I have over the years taught the Out, the Rear Cross, the Tandem Turn, and the simple Bend as though they were separate skills, as unique Galapagos each distinct from the others. And so the training steps that I have developed or adopted have been different for each skill.

What I’ve ultimately realized (last night, mind you) is that these are a family of movements each related closely to the other and are only distinct by degree.

I’ve said before that I always learn when I teach. But this is bigger than the usual learning step. There are already things that are sorting out in my “belief system”… if that’s the right phrase. For example, I’d like to teach the Out with the same feather touch as the Tandem. And so rather than introducing the Out as an intrusive and forceful movement I’m inclined now to go back to flatwork,  and heavily rewarded dog training in small prudent steps.

As to what I was teaching last week. I think that Gilda Radner (as Emily Litella) said it best: “Nevermind!”


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

Writing, Intellectual Properties, and the Internet

January 21, 2010

I’ve largely ignored my web log as I’ve assumed this new nearly full-time job developing lesson plans for a distance curriculum. I’m having a lot of fun with that. But it really means that the web log has suffered a new second fiddle status. Over the past three years I basically poured all of my creative energy into daily snippets that I shared freely with the world. And now I’m involved in a commercial product.

I find myself thinking of how the world has changed. The paper publication is in its death throes.

While I’m a bit of a dinosaur relic of a previous century I am aware that the internet is a powerful medium shaping and changing the way we acquire and use information. It has the potential for an economy of scale that boggles. With this in mind I’m fairly convinced that print media is dead (magazines and newspapers). Ultimately all useful publishing will be focused on electronic media and will be of negligible cost to the reader and user of that information.

Economy of scale is really the salient factor here. If I work 2,000 hours a year on a product that is read and used by 300 people I’m barely scraping by (barely making mortgage payments) with the modest pricing that I’ve established. If—OTOH—I have 5,000 readers then I’m really making more money than is necessary for an honest working man, and I’d have to cut the price of the product by 80%… and then I’m hunky dory. I’d even have enough money for a health plan (which will be more expensive and limited on coverage because the Republicans won’t allow an inexpensive and equitable public option… ever).

Now, let’s take it another step. If I have 100,000 readers I’ve entered a new realm altogether. Essentially the reader would pay absolutely nothing and compensation to “content experts” would be accomplished by advertising (pay per click) options that constitute the economic back-bone of the internet. Indeed, the online publication would require the input of a host of content experts who share their knowledge on a regular basis and all of whom would be compensated based on the readership that they attract to the electronic publication.

I say all of this in a manner that sounds like I know what the hell I’m talking about. But there’s a very real difference between understanding the implications of internet and understanding how to accomplish that thing. I do believe that the internet should be “free”. And I’m dedicated to creating a ready reference for fans of dog training and dog agility that is going to be free. Like I said, the paper pub is dead.

How do we get there? I haven’t the slightest idea. We’ll see where the natural unfolding of events takes us.


“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

Training, Always Training

January 19, 2010

Years ago I did a series of clinics for a club up in Columbus, Ohio. Someone commented to me that they’d never had a training session where all of the equipment wasn’t out on the floor. I believe that “all of the equipment” didn’t have anything to do with my immediate objectives. My tendency is to cut out the superfluous and get right down to the brass bones (is that a mixed metaphor?) Ultimately other equipment needs to be used for the purpose of generalization. Most handling skills and directional training for the dog can be accomplished with a few jumps and maybe a tunnel or two.

Training, always training… that’s me. I am so tickled that I have a new pup coming up who is a terrific student and just smart as can be. And so I make these huge leaps in criteria and expectation that really allows me to explore every dot on the learning curve. I want to share with you my immediate mission.

This is an interesting use of the floor that is minimalist and to the point. What training objectives might be explored here?

Okay, the numbered sequence is intended to work on my Left directional. I’ll approach jump #4 with my pup with a dog-on-left presentation at jump #4. As my dog is engaged in the performance of the pipe tunnel I’ll switch sides (probably with a serpentine Front Cross) to approach jump #7 again with dog-on-left where I can again use my “Left” directional to make the final turn from jump #7 to #8.

I am not averse to good handling even when it’s outside of the scope of the objective of the curriculum. It’s clear to me that my objective in the training sequence probably does not constitute the best handling of the sequence. This sequence is a good opportunity to practice powerful fundamental slow dog handling skills (forward and pulling) that are probably better handling options. I can use this sequence to teach a powerful Front Cross (and teach nuance skills like… “the dog turns when the handler turns, not where the  handler turns.”)

With these new “objectives” in mind… how does the handler finish the sequence.

Okay… with this set of the floor I also want to teach “Go On” and “Get Out”. I’ll also want to explore the difference between absolute directionals and relative. As a consequence this lesson plan goes on for another 6 or 8 pages (yep, I haven’t written them yet). And these will appear in the Go the Distance Notebook ~ Vol II #2.

Interesting Surfing


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:

Game for the Week ~ Just In Time

January 18, 2010


Just In Time is a game of timing and daring. It’s identical to the point-accumulation period of the Gamblers class, as played in venues like the USDAA and TDAA, because the dog must be directed to begin the distance challenge after the time whistle. This game is designed to reward the timing element.

The objective of this game is to arrive at the table as quickly as possible after the expiration of the point accumulation period.

The dog has only 30 seconds to score points. This is a “dog’s choice” game. The dog can perform obstacles in the order and direction of his choosing (hopefully, with some collaboration from the handler). Obstacles can be performed only twice for points. Back-to-back performances are permitted.

If the dog arrives at the table before the 30-second whistle, time stops and no time bonus can be earned.


Just in Time is scored points then time.

The points system is 1-3-5.

  • Jumps and hoops are worth 1 point
  • Tunnels, the tire, and a short set of weave poles are worth 3 points
  • The dogwalk and A-frame are worth 5 points.

The dog will earn a time bonus for getting to the table or finish line after the end of the 30-second point-accumulation period.

  • A time of 30 to 32 seconds earns 30 time bonus points
  • A time of 32.01 to 34 seconds earns 20 time bonus points
  • A time of 34.01 to 36 seconds earns 10 time bonus points

Unproductive loitering near the table is not permitted and shall result in loss of time bonus points.

Qualifying and Titles

Just in Time is an eligible game for titling in both TDAA and CWAGS. To qualify the dog must earn 21 points in the opening and earn a time bonus.

  • Games I = 31 points or  more
  • Games II = 41 points or more
  • Games III = 51 points or more

Notes on Play

So… last week we played Nested Gamblers. While my students did an adequate job getting the distance challenge the game was a bit of a bust because everybody did such a terrible job being set up in a timely manner for the start of the performance of the gamble. By the time league play was all done I knew that I had to get some timing games into the mix as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how skillful and reliable the dog is at working at distance if the silly handler doesn’t know how to approach the gamble line in a timely manner.

The game for the week is the ultimate timing game. I shall also have to work into the lesson plan for the week some speed calibration. We went through this quite a bit last year, especially as we had a handful of handlers heading for the TDAA Petit Prix where the finals game was “Who Dares Wins”… another ultimate timing game.

I apologize for the use of “hoops” in the course map. I have students who compete in NADAC and so I shall have to subject all of my students to teaching the “hoop” obstacle to their dogs. You just feel free to substitute a bar jump anywhere I’ve placed a hoop. Nelson will forgive you.

Go the Distance Notebook

I’m having a lot of fun writing a distance curriculum. But I need to learn to pace myself. Over the weekend I wrote like 50 pages… just for this week’s lesson plan. I’m sorry, that’s just a bit over the top. I think that the product should have some heft. I mean if you spend $5 or $10 for a training reference you really should have a month’s full study even if you’re one of those intense trainers who’ll give the dog about an hour of work every day of the week.

The weekly lesson plan really should come in around 32 pages, and no more. As it stands I’ve included enough escalation of criteria and skill that a dog trainer could dwell on a lesson plan for three weeks (never mind only one week). While I don’t want to take anything for granted… I also don’t want to overwhelm.

The typical lesson plan will include study notes for the instructor who has the ultimate responsibility either to raise criteria for a lesson plan or return to fundamentals/basics. The lesson plan also has a handout for the students so that they can take to their back yard skill exercises that compliment the lesson plan. And, of course the focus skills should be covered in the appendices.

In case you’re interested… the theme of the training plan this week is teaching the directional command “Get Out!” A lot of handlers use the words “Get Out,” but appreciably fewer actually teach the performance to the dog. We also will work into the lesson plan a discussion of timing and understanding a dog’s working speed… just to help people prosper with the game for the week.

If you’d like a look at Notebook #1 (Vol II)… for readers of my web log I’ll discount the already modest price! Follow this link to the Country Dream web store:

Okay, and once you start the order enter “special01” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

It is my practice now with electronic books… any Clean Run Course Designer course map can be opened into your CRCD if you click on the upper-right corner of the course map. That will allow you to move things around or even swap equipment to put the lesson plan to work in your training center!


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Notebook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: