Discrimination Continued

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.


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.

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More on this topic tomorrow.


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.


One Response to “Discrimination Continued”

  1. Courtney Keys Says:

    Oh yeah, a discrimination for sure. I can’t tell you how many off-course tunnels I have sent Franny into when both ends are presented. I have a great one on video, where she’s heading for the correct entrance and I stop and turn my feet and WHAM – wrong end. Good dog, though.

    Contact Donut Teams went really well this weekend, by the way! It seemed fun and enough of a challenge for sure.

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