And miles to go before I sleep

I have a list of chores to do for the day. I’m thinking I’d like to get outside! Yesterday was remarkably warm for late December. Last year at this time it had been below freezing for nearly a month already. There are a couple good outdoor chores for me; so I think I’ll strap on the boots and get out there.

But first…

Notes on Contact Donut

There’s no question about it Linda Northrup’s game Contact Donut is a marvelous training game. My boy Kory managed, in the game ( two complete laps around the course with 4X multipliers all the way. Oh I ain’t bragging. There are only about 450 NADAC agility players in this country who could do the same trick without breaking a sweat.

Still, I was proud of my boy. Although the pipe tunnels were presented like shark bait ( all the way, Kory took and held every bottom contact until released. Though to tell you the truth he leaned towards me so mightily at every contact that my release was consistently: Right! Tunnel!

We played the game with a simple 50 second QCT for all dogs.

Tell you the truth, I found the judging and scoring task wicked cumbersome. Okay, so we give 1 point for jumps and tunnels and 5 points for contact obstacles. The bonuses are for contacts only from containment areas allowing 1X, 2X, 3X and 4X the 5 point value. On top of that the judge is required to signal faults.

Any game that requires a scribe’s transcription of a judge yelling numbers to reflect the dog’s performance lends itself to scribing errors; especially when the judge’s speech sounds like a callers dialog at a tobacco auction. We should consider a simpler system that allows the game to be played with a minimum of verbalization from the judge without changing one bit rewards for performance or how dogs would be placed based on their earned score.

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Refusals and wrong courses are not faulted. The time required to recover is typically ample penalty enough.
  • Don’t use jumps at all in the game. Make a design that utilizes another pipe tunnel, or a collapsed tunnel, or even hoops.
  • The judge’s call will only be for contact obstacles. There are only four possible values: 5, 10, 15 and 20. That means the judge would have only four calls per loop. And frankly… it would be possible and practical to go to 1, 2, 3 and 4 as the value of the calls.
  • With all of this in mind, the scoring basis would be Points, Then Time (as compared to Points, Less Faults, Then Time).

Notes on Class

What I discovered many years ago is that if you design with training notions in mind, the set of the floor will be stodgy and contrived. And frankly it will be damned difficult to find a game in the mechanical layout. It’s far easier work to take the opposite view.

The fun thing about playing games every week is that the design of the floor begins with the game. Discovering the training sequences from the set of the floor is like a “found poem”. You can trace whimsical paths for the dog and in so doing create sobering challenges for the handler.

My litmus for a worthwhile training sequence is that it will be based upon flow, but will own some implicit handling riddle at its core.

The Joker’s Notebook Issue #2

This notebook is a ready resource for the dog agility enthusiast who is intent on a quality distance training program and for instructors who will provide distance training for motivated students of the game. This Notebook contains four weeks of lesson plans accompanied by a game of the week for each week, comprehensive Instructor’s Notes, and wealth of supplemental resources in the appendices. This work furthers the distance training originally included in the “Go The Distance” training workbook, and updates those methods for more up-to-date training and handling trends.

127 pp.

The Jokers Notebook is the natural progression and evolutions of Bud Houston’s distance training originally published as Go the Distance. These lesson plans and exercises are suitable for classroom instruction or back yard training by the intrepid enthusiast of dog agility.

Retail Price: $14.00; Our Price: $10.00; You Save $4.00!

Jokers Notebook #2 is an electronic book for download only.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The Country Dream web store is up and running. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

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