Archive for January, 2012

Curing the Floor

January 24, 2012

I was up very early this morning. I tip-toed down to the man cave in my robe and fired up the computer. Before long I realized I had bit of company. Though everybody who came down with me was fairly positive we all should still be in bed.

Yesterday it was a startling 70 degrees outside. That is very unusual for the back end of January. I’m finding myself with outside chores to do. I still have green grass from last year. It’s supposed to be tan brown and acting like it’s dead.

By contrast, last Thursday we had an overnight ice storm. We woke up to a world coated in ice. This was the view over the back fence, down the hill into the woods:

It’s hard to appreciate what you’re seeing I suppose. I also took this close-up of a branch of the holly tree leaning over our back deck:

But now, a couple days later, it’s balmy outside. It’s also muddy. I went to the lower field to play with my boy Kory. He went down as a black and white, but came back as a tri.

Catching Up

Yesterday I set the floor for our upcoming class/mini-clinic. The floor was absolutely sweating. This is a phenomenon that usually haunts us in the early Spring when the frozen floor starts to thaw. So I got out several of our barn fans and throughout the day moved them around to see if I couldn’t get some evaporation. It worked fine. I couldn’t help but think of it as curing the floor.

But I want to work my dog. It’s unfair to ask any dog to jump on a floor that’s as slippery as a Whamo Super Slide. Now the floor is nice and cured… and Kory and I have been able to do some work.

I haven’t written to my blog in days. I have kind of a new years resolution to put certain chores ahead of the blog; which (the theory goes) will compel me to get them done. You’ll be happy to know I’m only cheating a little bit.

League Play Twofer

I have guests coming to watch our league play this weekend; so I’m adding a second game. My students should love that. There’s a game that’s been gnawing at the back of my brain lately; and I’m thinking this will be a good opportunity to give it a go. This is a variation of Dare to Double. But if you thought you knew Dare to Double you’ll have to check out the Flanigan variation. It’s a whole new ball game!

Dare to Double ~ Flanigan Variation

Briefing

The game begins at the designated start-line, and ends at the table. Big dogs have 50 seconds to accumulate as many points as possible; Small dogs have 55. The dog must get to the table before course time elapses. If the dog gets to the table before time expires, he keeps all points accumulated on course. If the dog fails to do so, half of the points are lost. There will be no warning whistle. If the dog hits the table at any time during the run, scoring and time will cease.

Obstacles can be taken only twice during point accumulation. Back-to-back is permitted. Jumps that are knocked down will not be reset. Jumps = 1 point; tunnels and tire = 3 points; contact obstacles and the weave poles = 5 points.

During the run, all current points can be doubled by performing the A-frame. A successful performance doubles all points. If, however, the dog faults the A-frame, half of the existing points are lost. In the Flanigan Variation the A-frame can be performed only twice during the dog’s run, and an obstacle must be completed for points between each performance of the doubling obstacle.

Scoring and Qualifying

Dare to Double is scored Points, Then Time.

  • Games I => 40 points
  • Games II => 70 points
  • Games III => 100 points

Strategy

In the traditional Dare to Double you can double as often as you want, so long as you score points in between performances of the A-frame. The savvy player will quickly get the fundamental underlying math. Basically you get a handful of points on your dog and then start doubling until the end of time.

But the Flanigan variation is something else entirely; you only get to do the A-frame twice for double points. Now, if you double too early it lowers your capacity to score the most points. If you double too late time may expire and you’ll lose half your points. It is certainly a canny game of timing.

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

Putting It All Together

January 18, 2012

I’ve spent several days now designing training sequences and skill sets. What I need to do is put them together as a lesson plan for my students. In addition to that, I must find a game for league play, or two, in the set of the equipment.

I started the design with a discussion of a “discrimination” working set. It fulfills a basic obligation to approach sequencing with a training objective. That is, I want my students to understand how to solve for two obstacles placed in close proximity… and have a well-rehearsed handling answer to the riddle.

I moved on to another and very different set of obstacles, somewhat varied sequencing, and yet another skill objective; the Tandem Turn to solve a distance challenge. In this set of the floor we will also have an opportunity to work on a variety of specialty hurdles.

So the question becomes, how do we put them together?

This works for me. When I write a lesson plan I have to consider conflict between the two sides. The area of greatest conflict will be when the dog in the lower sequence is moving between the two winged hurdles (above the broad jump); while the dog at the top is making a transition between the U-shaped pipe tunnel and the A-frame. We’ll put dog fencing in that area to separate the possible conflict between dogs.

Now… on to the design of our league play games.

Standard Course

I have several choices to work with. If we do a standard course I should like to do something for my novice students, and something for my advanced/masters students.

This is an acceptable novice course, I think. Unfortunately it avoids the teeter (we already didn’t have a dogwalk on the field this week; darned shame, because I own four of them). However, it has some fairly tricky technical stuff for the novice handler. We get to approach the A-frame/pipe tunnel discrimination twice; and we have the nearly blind approach to jump #7 out of the weave poles.

This is acceptable as an advanced/masters course. It certainly has a higher obstacle count; and the challenges from the novice course are slightly compounded. I will probably go with this one… though I had something slightly more bloody-minded in my sights.Here’s my bloody-minded vision. The only real difference between this design and the previous is that we’ve swapped the #2 and #15 approaches to the A-frame/pipe tunnel discrimination to the considerably more difficult of the two choices; and I’m asking for a counter-side approach to the #11 pipe tunnel.

Setting the Floor

A bit I don’t always share in my lesson plan is the map I make for setting the building.

My training building is actually 120’ long by 62’ wide. I don’t sweat the extra 2’ wide, and use it for a general fudge factor. It is the length of the building that always complicates.

About the back 10′ is used for equipment storage. Those four dogwalks I mentioned earlier need a place to be stored securely out of the way, rather than putting them in the weather outside. Also I need plenty of room at the front of the building for my students to sit, for dog crating, and so forth. And that area needs to provide plenty of room for the approach to and dismount from obstacles at the front of the floor without conflicting with dogs and handlers waiting their turn.

I always have to make this map for myself… otherwise the numbers on my walls drive me crazy as I have to figure out how many feet to add or take away from each of the 10′ markers.

* * *

For our next league play I would like a game, in addition to the standard sequence. So tomorrow I’ll deal with the game we’ll play.

Editing the BLOG

Hmm… you may have noticed that today I’m participating in the internet blackout to protest and oppose the proposed U.S. legislation (SOPA/PIPA).

Unfortunately when I try to preview my draft I get the blackout window. It used to be when I would just publish my blog… and then edit it in the next few minutes. The downside of this tactic was that all the people who “subscribe” to the blog got immediately by email the messy, unedited bit (complete with code for CRCD graphics and hidden text for things like the answer to the Google-Proof trivia contest). So I took to editing the draft completely before I published it.

Because of the black-out I won’t get to see what this blog post actually looks like published. So I’ll content myself with editing on the coding page.

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

Too Much of Not Enough

January 16, 2012

When leading agility classes we often fall into several basic kinds of traps. First of all, the floor is often overly crowded with equipment. I find this nearly inescapable when we do split-group training (two groups of students separated, and working the floor at the same time). And for all the crowding of equipment sometimes we fail to put on the floor a variety of obstacles with which the dog should have plenty of practice. For example:

  • Table ~ often set to the lowest common denominator. Big dogs don’t get to see big tables.
  • Collapsed tunnels and the teeter ~ The biggest problem with these obstacles from the trainer’s POV is that they aren’t bidirectional and so limit sequencing to a one-dimensional sameness.
  • Specialty hurdles ~ We don’t see enough of the panel jump, spread hurdles, and the broad jump. When was the last time you had your dog on a viaduct?

With all of this in mind I’m an advocate for minimalism in the number of obstacles on the floor, but generous in terms of the variety of obstacles.

You can start with a simple concept, as I’ve done here. Aside from the teeter, there’s nothing more exotic than a series of jumps, though I’ve taken the opportunity to make a couple of them winged jumps.

Without really changing the set of the floor I’ve substituted specialty hurdles for the four wingless jumps that were in the drawing.

The use of these hurdles is certainly problematic. The tire, the parallel spread hurdle, and the broad jump all argue for a squared approach; and to a lesser extent present some risk in requiring any abrupt turn on the dismount. Also… now I have two mono-directional obstacles on the field. If I want some true variety I’ll have to reverse the teeter at some point and the broad jump.

Though, to tell the truth, I’d like to exhaust some of the sequencing possibilities before I do any kind of rotation of the equipment. Note that the teeter pretty much dictates the dismount of about any sequence to be run on the set.

What I wound up doing with the training set here is giving everyone a pretty good workout with the broad jump. Each of the sequences shown here have a different objective on the dismount; and each has it’s own whimsical consequential path on the finish.

The reversal of the teeter and broad jump offer a variety of new possibilities.

At this moment I’m inclined to point out that I’m never a complete slave to a lesson plan for raw sequences. I had something different in mind from the very beginning.

I’ve drawn a severe containment area for the handler, who I would expect never to step inside of the box of jumps that surround the broad jump. This is a wonderful test of the Tandem Turn (or lazy absolute directionals) and an opportunity for dogs to work at some distance from the handler.

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

Discrimination Continued

January 14, 2012

The U-shaped pipe tunnel is also commonly used as a discrimination test for the agility team. The word “discrimination” doesn’t really serve us here. If the intention of the test is to see if the dog can discriminate between two closely-set options… then the name of the obstacle alone does not serve. It is a wrong course option trap, pure and simple.

Again, the handler begins by understanding the dog’s path based on the approach. As you can see here, the approach from the A-frame clearly favors the right side of the pipe tunnel (red line); and will require a handling solution to get the dog into the left side (blue line).

Understanding the dog’s path of approach isn’t necessarily the same for all dogs. In this illustration, for example, we’ll call the red line the “Doberman” line, and the blue line the “Papillon” line. The challenge presented by pipe tunnel will be different depending on the efficiency of the dog’s turning radius between the two opening jumps.

Handling

If the dog has a sticky 2o2o on the A-frame it’s likely that the handler can be forward, on the landing side of jump #9, to entice the dog into the turn to the correct entry to the pipe tunnel. Probably the most powerful handling will involve any movement that begins with a counter-rotation.

If the dog has a running contact it is more likely that the handler will be behind the dog on the landing side of the jump. In this case the handler may want to pre-cue the turn. This drawing illustrates what is commonly called a “backy-uppy”. Note that this is a movement, which means the handler should move backwards applying pressure to the jump. Without movement the handler risks a refusal.

One of the interesting things to watch these days is to see how the handler dismounts the backy-uppy presentation of the pre-cue jump. The handler has essentially started with a pre-cue Front Cross. He may finish the movement with a second Front Cross (making the combination movement an RFP, by the way); or he may finish with a Blind Cross (making the combination movement a Flip).

You’ll note in this illustration we begin the approach to the counter-side tunnel discrimination from the pipe tunnel at #8. This is a riddle that “stretches” the handler. It’s likely that the initial discrimination will pin the handler back at the #8 pipe tunnel to make the presentation to the dog, almost certainly leaving the handler behind the dog on the approach to jump #9.

Further the trajectory of the dog’s approach to jump #9 makes the turn to the #10 pipe tunnel more acute and more difficult.

In this drawing the handler is choosing to make the approach to the #9 jump with dog-on-left in order to use a rear cross to convince the dog into the turn.

* * *

More on this topic tomorrow.

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

Discrimination Intro

January 12, 2012

The “discrimination” is a common type of agility challenge. It is when two obstacles are placed in close proximity. Whoever gave the challenge this name evidently assumed that the dog might be taught to discriminate between two obstacles, possibly on a cue provided by the handler.

This drawing depicts a very common discrimination problem; a tunnel under the A-frame. When forward of the dog the handler has two basic positions on the approach to a discrimination problem. They are:

  1. Body magnet position ~ when the handler is on the side nearer to the next correct obstacle.
  2. Blocking position ~ when the handler is on the side away from the next correct obstacle.

In this drawing the handler is in the body magnet position if the next correct obstacle is the pipe tunnel; and in the blocking position if the next correct obstacle is the A-frame.

When setting a handling plan to solve the discrimination, the handler should first of all take note of the dog’s trajectory of approach. You’ll note in this drawing the black dog and path truly favors an approach to the A-frame. The red dog and path favors an approach to the pipe tunnel.

The question of what side the handler should work is more often than not dictated by the direction of travel on the dismount from the two obstacles in the discrimination. The dog turns most naturally towards the handler, so the intrepid handler will endeavor to position himself on the turning side of the course.

Handling

Whether taking the body magnet position or the blocking, the handler should understand the nature of the dog’s path. This illustration shows a subtle shift of no more than 3′ in the dog’s path. And getting the dog to make that shift solves the riddle. The dog doesn’t have to move in these square linear lines, and probably will not. But the successful handler will think in these square linear lines to solve the riddle.

If in the body magnet position the handler might do a subtle RFP; or maybe do something simple like drop his lead to draw the dog in on handler focus before lifting the arm again to return the dog to obstacle focus.

If in the blocking position the handler might simply encroach into the dog’s path bending the dog away; or use a Get Out if the dog is well conditioned to this directional command.

If the handler is behind the dog the solution is a bit trickier. If on the magnet side the handler might give the dog a demonstration of brakes (what I call a static Post). If on the blocking side possibly a Rear Cross could convince the dog to turn away.

This discussion doesn’t come close to exhausting the handling and dog training possibilities for this one discrimination riddle.

I’ll develop this topic a bit more, tomorrow.

Bud’s Google-Proof Trivia Contest

This emblem is the symbol of what country? [Hint: somewhere in Europe].

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

Crossing Patterns

January 10, 2012

I often get in courses for review in the TDAA in which the challenge is not suitable to the level of play. I want to show you a simple example (a bit of an exaggeration):

What we see in this illustration is a simple down and back, without so much as a crossing pattern or a change-of-sides. Often enough the course designer feels trapped by the long lines of the course and doesn’t really know how to get out of it. What I’ll say in my review is that they should “twist” the loop. This is a relatively easy matter.

In the two parallel lines I’ve changed sides at a midway point, creating the “twist”. Note that the single crossing pattern necessitates (probably) two changes of sides.

If we involve the A-frame or any contact obstacle in a lane change, the A-frame deserves a bit of a rotation to ensure that the dog has a square or safe approach. This sequence has three crossing patterns and as many as three or four implicit changes of side.

From the beginning in this exercise the course designer has been trapped by his own design. To tell the truth I’m already bored with the simple pretzel twists to fix the problem. There are playful things we can do with the sequence that make it an exciting bit of dog agility.

Okay, I know. I’ve impinged on the unseen bit in the course (the bit that trapped these lines of obstacles against the wall)… and I’ve raised the obstacle count.

But look how much more fun everyone is having?

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

Dog Agility IS Dangerous!

January 9, 2012

Recently we’ve proposed a change in the upper cut-off jump height for the 16″ division of the TDAA. We want to invite dogs as tall as 20″ to compete. It’s actually a simple practical matter that gives that jump height balance with the other jump heights in the TDAA.

What has emerged from this single change in the rules is a nearly hysterical discussion of safety. This has prompted me to share with everybody an uncomfortable truth:

DOG AGILITY IS DANGEROUS!

I have facts to back up this claim. Several examples: a small poodle and former AKC National Champion fell off the dogwalk and died from a broken neck; a young sheltie broke her jaw because she turned abruptly and slammed her face into the side of a dogwalk ramp; several dogs have received debilitating injuries from bad collisions with the tire; a multitude of dogs have ruined their shoulders by slamming against the A‑frame; a dog was suffocated by being bound in an unattended collapsed tunnel in the back yard. These are just things I know about… I’m certain the list is considerably longer.

Please note that none of these things happened in TDAA competition.

If dog agility is dangerous why do we risk our dogs playing this game? Do we have no compassion and sympathy for what might happen?

All of that being said, to quote Bilbo Baggins: “It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

We Need a Balanced and Objective Discussion

I can think of no sport that is without danger and risk. People who compete in the equestrian sports face danger to both rider and mount! But, consider only dog sports… disc dog is dangerous, herding is dangerous, go to ground is dangerous, lure coursing is dangerous. [I’m having a hard time putting Rally-O on that list; so there ya go.]

Someone took the liberty to poll handlers of dogs marginally taller than 17″ (at an AKC trial, I believe) whether they would do TDAA with their dogs. The answer was resoundingly “No! It would be too dangerous!”

Really?

I’ve had three fast little Shelties who’ve earned championships in multiple venues and have aggregated something like 7 or 8 national championship titles in the TDAA. How could I possibly have survived with fast little Shelties in the TDAA? And why didn’t they get killed playing this dangerous game?

It is a discredit to all of our TDAA national champions over the years to imply that speed is unsafe. These are wickedly fast little canine athletes. Dog agility requires a superb dog trainer and a skillful technical handler to thrive in the sport. Anybody can handle a small dog in the big dog venues because you can commit multiple errors between obstacles and still correct to survive. That is not likely to happen in the TDAA.

Stride of Dog

The argument will continue that the “stride of the dog” is what makes the TDAA unsafe for even the marginally taller dog. It will probably appall you to hear that I doodle around on TDAA courses with my 21+” BC Kory. He does 16″ tunnels (almost as fast as he does 24″ tunnels); he does the 16″ tire, almost as though he had a brain and figures out how to measure his own stride and collect himself.

For many years I’ve lurked in the conversation of the NADAC-style enthusiast explaining how the USDAA and the AKC are unsafe venues for dogs. And now we endure similar opinion-without-warrant from USDAA and AKC competitors in their consideration of the TDAA.

It’s all good. Everyone will do what they feel comfortable doing and what they have the skill to do.

Make No Mistake About It

The TDAA has no intention of changing the central course design philosophy. The venue will feature course design for the small dog; exactly as every other venue in the world features courses designed for the big dog. If dog’s measuring more than 16” can prosper in the TDAA it will be wicked good fun to watch.

Aggressive Dogs

For years I’ve been sensitive to the problem that dog clubs will not support their smallest canine athletes in a venue designed for them, although the small dog people have supported the big dog venues for many years. Now we see this puzzling turn-around in sentiment in which small dog people will discriminate against big dogs simply because they are big.

As we all know, every dog over 17″ is a murderous incident waiting to happen. [If you quote me, please try to convey the entire context.]

Indeed one of the things that people have reported to me over the years is that they feel safer bringing out their small dogs in the TDAA than in the big dog venues. That sentiment is probably warranted.

The way the TDAA is approaching this problem is instituting a clear and severe policy regarding aggressive dogs. It’s not just a matter of a dog attacking another dog… we will not allow dogs that threaten or intimidate other dogs to participate in this venue. It’s not just a matter of putting tall “snow fencing” to keep dogs separate, safe and segregated. We will not allow aggressive dogs to play, at all.

By the way… this goes for small dogs as well as big dogs. Most big dogs will tell you that the “incident” is often caused by the snarky little dog. This too, will not be allowed in the TDAA.

I should end this segment by saying that I know a large number of wonderful lovely dogs measuring more than 17″ with whom I would feel completely safe allowing even my little girl Hazard to be in off-leash company. And I would love to share a weekend of relaxed agility competition with any of them.

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

Jumping Jacks

January 7, 2012

A fun looking game came to me during my TDAA course review duties. The game is Jumping Jacks, which is an interesting variation of Pole Jacks. Rather than doing weave poles for the “bounce” the dog will do two jumps.

I’ve decided this would be a ripper game to play in league this week (during our mini-clinic tomorrow). Here’s how the game goes:

Jumping Jacks

Jumping Jacks, a variation of Pole Jacks, is the invention of Melissa Wallace of Tacoma, WA. The original Jumping Jacks course was designed for play at Four Paw Sports Center in January of 2012.

Briefing

Jumping Jacks is played like the children’s game of jacks. The performance of two jumps is the bounce of the ball. All other obstacles on the course are jacks and have specific point values. In our sample course, below, any two wingless jumps qualify as a bounce. It does not matter which two, or the direction they are taken.

After the “bounce” (doing two jumps), the team must “pick up” the appropriate number of jacks by scoring an equivalent number of points. The handler and dog team will bounce “onesies,” bounce “twosies,” bounce “threesies,” and so forth until either they reach bounce and “sevensies” or time expires.

The dog’s time begins when he hits the ground on the landing side of the first jump. Big dogs will have 55 seconds, and small dogs will have 60 seconds. The end-of-time whistle ends scoring only; the clock continues to run until the dog goes to the table. After the time whistle, there will be no fault and no points for the dog taking additional obstacles on the way to the table or finish line to stop time.

The dog must pick up points equaling the number for which the team is shooting after the bounce. For instance, if the team is shooting for 6, they could do a jump and the teeter or they could do a tunnel and the tire.

Obstacles may be taken as many times as the handler or dog chooses. No obstacle may be taken twice on the same pick up.

When a bar is dropped on a “bounce” jump the dog must be directed to bounce again. The jump with the downed bar is still in play.

Scoring

Jumping Jacks is scored Points, Then Time. The dog’s score will be the number of his last complete pick-up. The winner is the dog with the highest points and with least time in the case of a tie. The maximum points that can be earned are 7.

The following point values are assigned to obstacles:

  • Jumps, 1 point
  • Tunnels and tire, 3 points
  • Teeter, Weave Poles, and A-frame, 5 points
  • Dogwalk, 7 points

If a dog faults during a pick-up, the dog must again bounce (perform two jumps) and retry that same number. Faults include the following:

  • Any of the usual performance faults (missed contact, knocked pole and so on)
  • Picking up a number greater than the number for which the team is shooting
  • Doing a “bounce” jump with too few points in the pick up
  • Repeating an obstacle in the same pick up

Course Design

Qualifying:

  • Games I – Score of 4
  • Games II – Score of 5
  • Games III – Score of 6

YouTube Course Review, for Your Entertainment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DqVa7SrhtQ&context=C32f4648ADOEgsToPDskKr-K7GozVT0F5TOZw0Hs7J

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

Pull Through

January 6, 2012

Let’s define a pull-through as an agility skill in which the handler has to pull the dog between two wrong course options. This is easy enough to illustrate:

In this short sequence the handler has an option to pull-through in the transition from jump #3 to jump #4. If he turns the dog to the left he has to pull the dog between jump #3 and the dummy jump. Less obvious, if the handler turns the dog to the right, then it’s a bit of a pull through to get past the dogwalk. The acid question is “whither the course” after jump #4.

With that in mind the sequence continues with compounded pull-throughs. At jump #4 the handler has an option of taking the pull-through if he turns the dog to the right. Turning the dog to the left avoids the wrong course option, but certainly creates a longer consequential path to get back to jump #5.

The turning direction at jump #5 is a bit of a fun riddle. Turning the dog to the right again creates a pull-through. Turning the dog to the left although it might be a longer path to jump #6 sets a much sweeter line to the weave poles beyond.

* * *

We’ll get to play with this sequence on Sunday. We’ve returned to the weekend mini-clinic format for the winter. It’s a three hour workshop. So everyone should get a good workout.

Private Thoughts

I’ve always considered my web log a place for my private thoughts. Oh certainly I share them with quite a few readers. But I have ever viewed my writing here as the opportunity to take off the hat and shed the uniform, kick back with a can of beer, and unload whatever is on my mind.

For this naïve thinking I got a bit of a wake up call as I found text from one of my blogs quoted on a public forum and used in a manner that inflamed childish passion. Oh my.

While I won’t mention it again, I promise to be a more guarded character from now on and there’s just stuff I’ll keep close to my chest.

Marsha’s In and Out Baskets

I’m very pleased with myself that I’ve learned to get pictures off of my Droid, and put them on my computer. You’re all in trouble now. I suppose I should be Facebooking them. Hmm?

Bud’s Google Proof Trivia Contest

What is the subject of this photo?

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

The Rip-Saw Tunnel

January 4, 2012

There is a configuration of equipment we see from time to time in agility that I call the “Rip-Saw” tunnel. It’s basically a course configuration that invites the handler to run into his dog on the exit of the pipe tunnel. I think that there are some fine handling options for the Rip-Saw. But beyond that I wonder at the riddle of the course that is: “Do you know how to do this without hurting yourself, or your dog?”

Here’s a sample from an old course that I dug up (you don’t have to rummage long to find examples). The dog will approach the pipe tunnel on the handler’s left side, into a left-turning sequence. Had the pipe tunnel actually been pointing at the #13 jump, it wouldn’t be a rip-saw at all. And the turning riddle would be shifted downfield to that jump.

Handling Options

Handling depends on a lot of things. Primarily everything begins with recognition. The handler, devout student of the dog’s path that he is, must recognize the possibility of collision on the dog’s exit from the pipe tunnel.

The next “depends” is if the handler feels obligated to step up on the approach to the tunnel-under-the-dogwalk discrimination riddle to take a blocking position on the dogwalk. This is going to put him in ideal position to run into the dog making his exit from the pipe tunnel.

What the handler might do, instead, is step up to the exit of the pipe tunnel, hiding himself from the dog; and then, as the dog usher’s past step behind the dog to convince the dog into the turn. This is what I call a technical Tandem.

Another option, for the same handler, is to strike a wide path that diminishes the risk of collision. In this drawing I show the handler running out into space to bend the dog into the turn from a somewhat comfortable distance. Now the handler will probably have to use a Rear Cross at jump #14 to get the turn to the dogwalk.

Finally we come to the old guy’s handling option. Now, with a well trained distance dog that has directionals and knows the difference between a pipe tunnel and a dogwalk without the handler having to be in close proximity… the handler can release the dog from the vicinity of the table. And now, having such an advantage in real estate the handler can either bend the dog on his left side, or step to the opposite side of the #13 jump to have dog on right in the transition to the dogwalk.

Cunning and Guile

I have to share this note with you.

Hi Bud,

I saw your blog about Old Guy Handling and wanted to let you know there are several “really” old guys out there still doing agility with fast dogs.  You probably know everyone in the photos, but you probably did not know Herb Gercke just turned 80 years old.  The 70 plus group, lt.to rt. Jim Hibbard, Dwight Cash (the youngest), Herb Gercke and Dick Watson.  We all meet at Jim’s on Thursday mornings, play agility with some younger folks, mostly woman and then go to lunch, followed by naps.

Herb and I had a team in league this year (Geezers Plus) and we came in 2nd of the 42 teams.  Herb and his BC, Zack, did an outstanding job, especially with the Non-Traditional Gamble, beating all but 2 of the 160 plus participants.

And, the Geezers would be very happy to test any of your Old Guy Handling techniques, that is the rare technique, the Geezers are not already using!

Take care,

Dwight Cash

Blog801

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