Lesson Planning

For inspiration I’ve gone back to the Just For Fun Agility Notebook… a series that I began over 10 years ago. I intend to walk through lesson plan by lesson plan (in pretty much chronological order). However, it is not the same. I find that my sensibilities relative to spacing between obstacles has changed considerably over the years.

I’m especially interested in how we use our distance skills to solve basic challenges in the standard course. And that puzzle will have much of my attention.

In my analysis of this course, there are two control positions that the handler needs to achieve. The first will be with dog on left out of the #5 pipe tunnel; and the second will have the handler forward of the dog at jump #15. You’ll have to take a look at the course yourself to see if you agree with me.

The mistake fast dog handlers will make with the #3 through #6 part of this course is in micromanaging the approach to the #5 pipe tunnel. This makes the approach from #5 to #6 messy, particularly if the handler wants to do a Front Cross which can be clunky and intrusive.

What the handler might do, instead, is send the dog over the long jump and on to the pipe tunnel at #4. From this vantage point the handler can layer back to the opposite side of the A-frame and draw the dog to the #5 pipe tunnel. This leaves the handler neatly in position to scoop the dog out of the tunnel on right and push up to jump #6.

The handler wants to be forward of the dog at jump #15 in order to make a compelling argument to the dog to turn 45˚ to the #16 weave poles rather than going straight on to the wrong course table. What gets the handler into trouble here is again a problem of micro-management. If the handler feels he has to micro-manage both the approach to the weave poles (at #14) and the performance, then he’s more than likely to be behind the dog and flat-footed without much of an answer to avoid the wrong course.

What I’m showing in the illustration is the handler’s desired position for presentation of the weave poles as the dog comes out of the tunnel (man in red). This is basically an extension of the “around the clock” training we do with our dogs. The handler is at 8 o’clock relative to the entry to the poles; the dog is more at 5 o’clock.

So at jump #15 the handler still needs and answer to sell the turn. This could be a static Post, an RFP, a Front Cross, or a pre-cue (backy uppy, eh?) Almost anything is better than trying to talk your way through it.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Name a river that flows north for almost half the year and then south for the rest of the year.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore.


2 Responses to “Lesson Planning”

  1. Rose Says:

    The Tonle Sap River in Cambodia.

    Love today’s post, and I hope you’ll be posting a lot more like them so I can keep my game up mentally. My initial thought was to get to a spot between the entrance to #4 and the exit to #5 so I could quickly BC or FC the opening of #5. Your way of handling will give me something to work on with Belle once I can walk again. The second control spot is much as I would work it–I’d just have to remember to not lead out from the table and to run slowly so I could still move forward (without having to go much beyond the weave exit) to make it crystal clear that Belle was to take #13 and not the tunnel under the AF.

    Actually, given my speed and Belle’s, I could also go in the pocket between #4 and #5 and allow her to go ahead so that I could RC #6 and send her to the DW. I might even like that option better since the broad jump would no longer be such a handler restriction.

    • budhouston Says:

      Yah, the Tonle Sap River is correct.

      We tested my recommended handling to the #5 tunnel in class the other night. It had a very high success rate and, as I suggested, eliminated the intrusive FC difficulties as the dog comes out. Keep it smooth and simple.

      The only problem with the RC is that it leaves the handler behind the dog on the dismount of the dogwalk. I’d rather be slightly forward so that I can manage the serpentine sequence ahead. I prolloy should have addressed this in my blog.

      Thanks for the note.


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