The course designer for the Novice classes will often create these long straight lines for the Novice dog and his handler as though he was doing the team some kind of favor. But trust me… long straight lines are not the friend of the fast dog handler. A dog ahead of the handler tends to curl back to the handler’s position; and so the long and straight line is lost if the handler can’t actually out run the dog.

What I try to do in my course design is create big serpentine (slaundering) sequences that suggest overt or gently curling movement. These allow the handler to strike a smarter path and direct the dog with deft changes of side.

I did not mean to imply that the sequence here is “novice” by the way. But I’m as unlikely to challenge the more advanced handler with long straight and pointless lines as I am the novice handler.

In the opening the handler is working to a control position. If you look at the blue path, it slips in a neat straight line past jumps #3 and #4. The handler spies this line when he walks the course and knows that this is precisely where he wants to be as he conducts the Front Cross.

The handler’s path getting into position may seem a bit curious. He’s working for a parallel path to the dog. In fact if  we compare the handler’s path to the dog’s path, you can see that the red handler’s path actually gives a little pressure back into the dog’s (red) path ensuring that he’ll stay out over the two jumps as the handler gets into position. It is somewhere along that red path that the handler releases the dog from his stay. The release should not be so soon that the handler loses the race to his control position; and it should not be so late that the handler is moving badly or is completely stopped at the moment of the cross. These are simple matters of handler discipline.

The handler’s next control position will be to be alongside the dog and at a bit of a lateral distance as the dog dismounts the dogwalk. This is the position for a technical Tandem. The handler wants this position because it leaves him in position to get to the opposite side of the exit of the pipe tunnel in a timely manner for a Blind Cross or, if he’s not very coordinated, for a Front Cross.

Now in the closing the handler will likely draw the dog up to jump #10 for a Rear Cross. Note that it’s not such a bit deal if the dog outraces him on this line because there’s not a lot of trouble he can get into for being out of position (as it was for having jumps #8 and #9 on his left side).

The back end of the sequence is no less technical, complete with moments of handler discipline. A bit of analysis of the sequence reveals that the handler probably will not want to be caught with the dog on his left side through jumps #8 and #9 because, if the dog is at all faster than the handler, it will be hard to make the turn out to jump #10 with the handler out of position. So the handler may try to pick the dog up on right on the  dismount of the tunnel at #7.

Having finished the Cross after jump #2 the handler pushes the line down to the pipe tunnel at #5. The handler really should endeavor to make a bit of a send to the pipe tunnel. I’m most interested in keeping good focus to the tunnel until the dog is in. It never makes much sense to turn away from the entry of a pipe tunnel before the dog is committed.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What is the name of my 5th grade teacher?

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


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training ~ Issue #0 ~ August 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special00” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.


4 Responses to “Slaunder”

  1. Carole Says:

    My guess is Mr./Mrs./Miss Slaunder?

  2. Ronni Says:

    Sounds like a good guess to me.

    Do we get extra credit if we know that your 6th grade band teacher was Mr. Flores?

  3. Marsha Says:

    How about S. Launder?

  4. budhouston Says:

    Okay, I’m going to say that I won this one. This was a truly google-proof question.

    My 5th grade teacher was Patrick Noveli. He was a powerful influence on my life and I’ve always reckoned that the world should remember him. He was about 4’10” tall… and had me testing in English at 11th grade 4th month in the SATs in the 5th grade. He was a 3 Rs kind of teacher and a good man.


    * Slaunder? Where’d you get that idea?

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