Discrimination Intro

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.


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].


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.

6 Responses to “Discrimination Intro”

  1. Jill Martin Says:


  2. Laura, Lance, and Vito Says:


  3. Wayne Says:


  4. Erica Says:

    “This emblem was born at the period when Lithuania was merged with Poland. In fact, Poland had also used it as national emblem.”

    Fun fact for the day…

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