Using the CRCD Path Tool for Course Analysis

One of the hardest adjustments a new judge in the TDAA has to make is in the shorter transitions between obstacles. For many years we’ve been conditioned by the shrill admonitions of those who adhere to standards in the big dog agility venues that agility can not be safe if the distances between obstacles is less than 20′ or, in more extreme cases, less than 24′.

Understand that all of these standards are predicated on a 22″ measured dog that moves at a speed near to 7′ yards a second. Furthermore the standards anticipate that the handler is unable to gear the dog down or adjust the dog’s stride for tighter technical work; and that the dog has not been trained to work at a carefully focused pace. It’s all a steeplechase. So it is a treble problem of subscribing to the highest and lowest common denominators.

Note that our SCT is predicated on having very little “real estate” in which to raise the dog’s YPS which is bled down by the technical obstacles. YPS is raised by big expanses between obstacles. That’s why a dog will seem to have a higher YPS in the big dog venues than in the TDAA; while, in fact, the dog works at a constant, precise, and predictable speed in all venues.

We have ever wanted to give the small dog handler a taste of what the big fast dog handler contends with on a regular basis, every weekend of play. So the action comes bang bang bang! And the handler must be keen in his footwork and timely in his direction of the dog.

Case Study

Here’s a sample standard course for the Beginner class. It is not a bad course and wouldn’t really require the designer / judge to redesign any element. However, I would like to see the judge tighten up the course to fit the TDAA standard for spacing.

To do this the course designer can use the Path tool in the Clean Run Course Designer (CRCD). The Path tool will allow a bit of analysis. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Dog Path icon which will spawn the Dog Path Properties dialog box:
  2. In the Connection to obstacles selection list choose “Connect to numbers”
  3. Note that the Jump height selection is 16”. You would not want it any higher for the TDAA, since that’s what our biggest dog’s jump. This will affect the turning radius of the dog’s path.
  4. In the Number of arrow heads / lengths selection list choose “One per obstacle”
  5. Make sure “Show path lengths on path” is selected
  6. Choose Feet and Inches in the units selection list.

Now we have a very different view of the course with interval distances clearly indicated. The judge / course designer can use this intelligence to tighten up the course to fit TDAA standards. You’ll note that this course tends to use a trace more than the TDAA maximum distance between all obstacles; though it is considerably tighter than in any other agility organization.

Without redesigning the entire course I’ve done some distance tweaking from the collapsed tunnel at #4 to jump #10. Allow me to go through the tweaking point by point so that you can understand how the judge should view transitional distances.

  • From the collapsed tunnel at #4 to the pipe tunnel at #5 ~ the judge always wants to give the handler something on the order of 12′ to 14′ to refocus the dog. It would be unfair and perhaps unsafe to use our minimum distance here.
  • I’ve shortened the distance from the pipe tunnel to the dogwalk. I still did not use our minimum distance because the dog needs to focus on getting his feet up on the technical obstacle. But it’s a straight line and certainly should not be more than 10′.
  • I’ve also shortened the transitional distance from the dogwalk to the tire. The judge is obligation to insure that the tire is square to the dog’s approach.
  • The movement of the table seems most dramatic; but in fact it had to follow the teeter which moved closer to jump #10.
  • Finally, I left the turning radius to the A-frame at 11’4″. The dog always gets a minimum of 12′ in a 90° turning radius. Oh, it sure sounds like that statement contradicts itself. Ultimately you’ll have to understand that the CRCD path never calculates the dog’s turning radius correctly. Note that the silly robot of the program draws the dog around for a square approach to jump #10. If this were to happen it would have to be accomplished by a trick of handling. But it makes no real sense. Indeed the true path from the teeter to jump #10 is more around 8’… and the turning radius to the A-frame is closer to 14′ than 12′.

Note that I did not deal with that funny pipe tunnel opening puzzle in my analysis and tweaking above. It’s a scenario that deserves an article entirely on its own. To tell you the darned truth, I would redesign the opening to be appropriate for the Beginner class. We’ll save the discussion of transitional spacing for a class that deserves the opening technical challenge with a pipe tunnel (say, Intermediate).

See Also

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

This artwork first appeared (in black & white) on the cover of what magazine? What was the issue number and the date of the publication? Who is the artist? And, what is the dog’s name?

The first correct answer posted as a reply to this blog post wins a free copy of the March Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – March 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special03” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.


7 Responses to “Using the CRCD Path Tool for Course Analysis”

  1. Mark & Ebby Says:

    I am going to take a wild guess on this.
    Clean Run 1997 Jan Vol. 3
    You are the artist

  2. Paula Price Says:

    I was going to say the same, but 1995 and Birdie. No idea of the issue.

  3. Lora Says:

    Would that be:

    Clean Run Notebook
    Issue #1 Date: Dawn of Mankind
    Artist: Bud Houston
    Subject: Winston

    • Lora Says:

      Make that Clean Run Newsletter

    • budhouston Says:

      I’m going to officially call this contest. Lora wins. And it took an old timer in the sport to do it. The dog in the drawing is indeed Winston, the wonder dog. My first agility dog… who managed to change my life.

      The issue of the Clean Run was January, 1995, Vol I, #7. But in fact it was the issue that gave the magazine its name. While we came back later and filled in the first six; the true first six are lost in obscurity as they were xeroxed bundles of my lesson plans that I mailed out to maybe a dozen agility instructors around the Southwest. The demand was growing so much that I ultimately started charging (with the #7 issue)… $2.00 a week for about 8 pages of instructing notes.

      I think I had 40 subscribers with the #7 issue.

      Winston was a great dog. And he made me look smarter than I really am. I wish I knew then what we all know now about training and competing with an agility dog. But at the end of the day I just miss my old dog. He would have done anything for me.


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