Killer Bees

The purpose of this set of equipment is to facilitate a very basic concept in distance work… layering. The Glossary of Dog Agility Terms ( defines layering as: “The handler directs the dog to execute one obstacle while another obstacle is between him and the dog.” Okay… I’m going to have to go back and fix that definition. I can hear Sharon Nelson saying “The dog doesn’t execute the obstacles he performs them!”

I often tell my students that the game of agility is won and lost in that expanse of real estate between the obstacles that we typically refer to as “the flat”. The handler should view that real estate as the raw materials for giving the necessary movement for adequately and correctly directing the dog. The handler’s movement is motive.

With this in mind the handler “trapped” by capricious course design that demands or dictates a layering strategy must make judicious use of the available real estate so that enough remains at all times to direct and motivate the dog.

Handlers with long-striding and fast dogs don’t necessarily understand (or need to understand) the concept. But many of us have learned that a generous use of real estate not only makes direction clearer to the dog, but adds energy to the performance.

In this exercise we have the expectation that the handler will remain inside the containment area while the dog does the obstacles ringing the sequence.

If the handler moves too forcefully picking the dog up out of the pipe tunnel – or, in fact uses up too much of the available real estate while the dog is engaged in the performance of the pipe tunnel, then the handler’s movement is likely to die as he comes toes up against the dummy jump between jump #2 and jump #3. Without movement to collaborate with the dog’s movement on the outside, the dog might just as well curl back into the handler’s position tagging the dummy jump, rather than staying out.

The handler could flap his arms or he might be ardent in his vocabulary to try to keep the dog out. But these are things that actually draws the dog back into handler focus and may consequentially have quite the reverse effect from what was actually intended – drawing the dog even more conclusively back to the handler, who is now parked in the wrong direction.

There are many interesting things that can be accomplished with this set of equipment. Learning is accomplished by practice. So often we think of dog agility as a matter of training the dog to his job and the handler’s job is dismissed or unexplored. But it is the science of the handler’s skill that  most often makes the essential difference in the qualities of the team.

Design Notes:

The origin of this whimsical training set is based on a series of three-legged pinwheels. When I first drew it on a napkin in the airport, I couldn’t help get the vision of John Belushi on Saturday Night Live out lf my head. Something about it reminded me of the “Killer Bees” sketch.

Ultimately I added more room in the transitions between jumps and held less to the three-legged definition of the hexagonal original sketch. And so the original design might be lost to obscurity.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Where is the first big Coca-Cola advertisement (sign) located?

First correct answer posted as a reply to this blog post wins a free copy of the February Jokers Notebook (or March, if you prefer).


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – Feb 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special02” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

4 Responses to “Killer Bees”

  1. Jon Says:

    Cartersville, GA

    Spent a couple of years working in GA so I knew about it, but it can be Googled, go to GIS and use “Coca-Cola” +historic +wall.


  2. Nora Says:

    Ummm… “execute” is a perfectly fine word, and in fact the first two definitions relate to performance or accomplishment:

    ex⋅e⋅cute  /ˈɛksɪˌkyut/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ek-si-kyoot] Show IPA verb, -cut⋅ed, -cut⋅ing.
    –verb (used with object) 1. to carry out; accomplish: to execute a plan or order.
    2. to perform or do: to execute a maneuver; to execute a gymnastic feat.

    Look, I know you’re fascinated with NADAC at the moment (been there, done that, even have the t-shirt), but really–why would you care what Sharon Nelson thinks about your word choice?

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