As I labor in the lower field schlepping equipment around, cutting grass and so forth… I cheer myself up with the notion that not everybody has a big field and plenty of equipment to make an agility playground.

From the rigid definition of the basic training exercise I can be a bit playful in setting equipment to create flow and approach challenges that have serendipitous merit. It’s kind of a game of “what do you make of this?” Well mostly, that’s fancy language to say that I’m putting all of the equipment already on the field into use so I don’t have to haul it back up the hill to put it away in the storage tent.

Over the next month I’m bringing up Kory’s jump height and I really want to do so on nice thick turf rather than on the rubber matting of the training building. And I think I’ve said that I really like working outside. If a dog gets good footing he’ll learn to run and jump confidently.

Two-A-Days are very important because practice in agility is rather like practice with dancing. The partners in the dance need to learn to understand the subtle pressures and nuances of each other. This can only be accomplished with repetition. I am very careful not to be obsessive-compulsive in my approach to practice with my boy. We might do this sequence three or four times only in a give workout. Add to the 40 to 50 jumping performances some chasing of a Frisbee and a good deal of tugging. That’s an adequate workout for a dog who’d otherwise work until he drops.

You’ll recall I’ve posed for myself and Kory a simple training objective, to master directional language in the face of multiple options (in this case, on the dismount of the dogwalk).

What I find with Kory is that he tends to take “Left” and “Right” as hard-aback instructions. For example, if had dog-on-right on the dogwalk going east to west on this set and from his 2o2o I tell him “Right” … he’ll have no difficulty flipping back into the opposite side of the pipe tunnel.  So, if we’re heading the other direction, dog-on-left his “Left” instruction on the dismount of the dogwalk might have him looking back more to the long jump than the slighter and more modest bend out to the #4 jump.

A development in our language is the idea that each option that comes to view represents the target. Mostly I have to be quick to get out the performance verb as his nose comes around to it. So the instruction from the 2o2o sounds very much like “LeftJump” because the event of the jump comes so quickly into focus.

The directional language is intended to be “precue”. This is important to understand. If I want Kory to turn left after a jump, for example, I will tell him “JumpLeft” with the complete expectation that he’ll hit the jump curling into the turn. If we take this to another conclusion, I’ve also begun giving him turning instructions on the approach to a pipe tunnel. In this exercise, in the turn from the #7 pipe tunnel to the dogwalk at #8, we’re making the approach to the tunnel we me on the side away from the curl… and so after the long jump I will tell him “TunnelLeftLeft” before he actually gets into the tunnel. Repeating the Left instruction is just about required to get him to tighten his turn out of the tunnel… to make a neat transition up onto the dogwalk with me nowhere near to “handle” the transition.

POTC Hates Me

The local club really hates me. I committed that unforgivable sin… moving into their pop ‘n jerk backwater part of the world. This move was supposed to be semi-retirement for me; and boy I sure got what I asked for. The real downside of it is that my little girl Hazard has been suffering from non-confidence issues. It would have been very healthy for her to get out on other equipment other than her own back yard and her own training building. But you know POTC won’t even let us enter our dogs in their local classes. And so any rehabilitation option for Hazard has been impossible.

As Kory comes of competition age I’ll be taking both him and Hazard out on the road with me. What I’ve been doing is looking for alliances with other clubs within reasonable driving distance where I’ve promised to come in and do nearly give-away working clinics just to have the opportunity to get my dogs on other equipment.

What I’d really like to do is trade working clinics for travel expense and entry fees. Most venues have some prohibition against doing training on the trial equipment (esp at the trial site) on the day before a trial/competition. So the structure of such a trade would probably entail a Monday morning working clinic. Since it’s nearly a give-away the club could use the clinic as a reward for trial-workers; making it a win-win for me and my dogs and the club and their hard working supporters.

Call me eh?

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What is name of the (fictional) government agency that uses the logo pictured  below. I apologize for the poor quality of the image. It is rare and hard to find.

First correct answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the June Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – April 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special04” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.


4 Responses to “Two-A-Day”

  1. Kathy Hildreth Says:

    If you are ever near Ithaca NY…i own a little motel, and share my agility yard with guests. I also made a facebook page…search on Grayhaven Motel, check the photos section for a couple of pics of the yard. please come for vacation in the area…spend time in the nearby parks, and using my equipment. Or if you come for a nearby trial, or seminar, I’d be happy to share my equipment for free, for a few minutes.

    • budhouston Says:

      Thanks Kathy… maybe I’ll take you up on that one day. I know NY has plenty of NADAC and USDAA and I’m sure to be traveling that direction within the next year.


  2. Chris Moore Says:

    Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense

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