Recipe for Crash ‘n Burn

This wasn’t actually the beginning of the course; but it was the part of the course that was responsible for an extraordinarily high NQ rate.

Truly only the top of this drawing and the right side represented the true ring boundaries. And so what we really need to see here is that for the most part dogs had a wingless jump with low visual acuity against the ring boundary (where there’s going to be a lot of visual clutter anyhow). If we combine this problem with the idea that too many handlers don’t understand a dog’s movement at all… in a pinwheel, then it’s a recipe for crash ‘n burn.

The lazy and artificial line drawn by the Clean Run Course Designer (CRCD) is commensurate with the lazy thinking of the handler who doesn’t understand the true shape of the dog’s path in a pinwheel. If you think in round terms… you are so doomed.

Think about it this way… the “corner” is the timing event for the handler to communicate a change of direction to the dog. Where exactly is the corner in a “U”? Indeed because the handler is engaged in round and sleepy dreamy movement, then they won’t be supporting the dog out to the end jump in the pinwheel.

By the way, note that if the curve continues over the bar of the jump… that means the dog is changing directions in the air. And while I’m not really a physics major… I’ll submit that is impossible.

Supporting the dog is really a simple matter of keeping focus and pressure to the jump on the outside of the pinwheel. I know this drawing shows the handler stepping deep into the pocket. For most dogs the handler’s movement this deep into the pinwheel really wouldn’t be required. But the pressure of facing and moving towards the outside jump in the pinwheel is the pass or fail handler test. If the handler rotates away to jump #4 (and beyond) before the dog has actually committed to jump #3… why on earth should the dog actually do it?

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

There is a city that partly exists in one continent and partly on another. What is this city?

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: 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.

12 Responses to “Recipe for Crash ‘n Burn”

  1. Nancy Hoffman Says:


    I enjoy reading your blog and checking out your courses.


    • budhouston Says:

      Istanbul is correct! (Constantinople?)

      Thanks for the nice note!

      Readers of the WordPress blog should note that when a writer’s name is featured in bold & blue there’s a link to (usually) their very own web log. So, like me the reader can wander around in the journal notes of other agility fans.


  2. Adrienne Says:

    Hmm… I’m going to submit this is an arguable point. Are you counting Europe and Asia as one or two continents? 😉

    But I would answer Panama. On the border between North and South America.

    • budhouston Says:

      You know, I rely on the teaching of my own childhood to understand the universe: Europe and Asia are two separate continents; Pluto is a planet; and one should always leave a $.35 tip to show a waitress appreciation.

      LOL… Panama is in North America and entirely north of it’s own southern border.


      • Adrienne Says:

        lol I was a child of the changing universe I guess. We were allowed to answer either way as I got into Jr high. Pluto was still a planet. And Typing was still done on a typewriter unless you were rich and had a computer. Oh and floppy disks really were floppy.

  3. Renee Says:

    ARGHHHHHHHHHH. I bet you thought I didn’t know that. I know that!!! I KNOW THAT!!! I just don’t always do it. Okay… sometimes I don’t remember it either. I want a do over.

    • budhouston Says:

      Well Renee it’s funny that you thought I was talking about you. But as I pointed out… the simple 3/4 pinwheel NQ’d about a quarter of the class. You were watching everyone else… right?

      The pinwheel features prominently in my teaching. Now that I’m torturing my students with a distance curriculum I’ll spend quite a bit of time addressing the discipline of handler movement in the performance of a pinwheel.

      Most handlers don’t understand the implications of their movement when the pinwheel is not a distance challenge… but the distance exercises should actually add clarity for simple handling discipline.


  4. Adrienne Says:

    Istanbul – Contstantinople, apparently also qualifies. Being in Europe and Asia across the Bosporus.

    • Adrienne Says:

      I know! I know! Why do all the people I would like to spend time working with live out of state?

      Are you doing any seminars in Minnesota this year?

      I love the work-study idea. My biggest hurdle would be justifying the expense of the travel. I have a two day weekend and sometimes two and a half. I wonder what Tony would think if I told him I want to come to your place for our honeymoon? lol

      Google proof is hard. Especially to the internet savvy.

  5. Adrienne Says:

    You know, I didn’t realize how much those little lines drawing the dog’s path were misleading. It makes sense when I think back over the running of courses with Emma.

    Such a little thing, but it could fundamentally change how one thinks about handling a course.

    • budhouston Says:

      Dang Adrienne… I wish you could train with me down here. I love a student who gets my teaching just from looking at a picture.

      Keep trying on the trivia contest btw. I’ve been mulling over how to really create a google-proof trivia contest. This week I’ll introduce my new and much tougher concept.


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