Archive for June, 2012


June 28, 2012

Next weekend I’ll be in Indianapolis for a USDAA trial, as an exhibitor. I’ve come up with a set of the floor for the week for my dailies. I’m mainly interested right now in getting a good review of the A-frame; but set for USDAA height for big dogs, 5’11ish”.

This is a bit of a course concept. It doesn’t really show how I’ll for the most part use the A-frame in training and sequencing bits. There are a couple bits in this longer sequence that interest me outside of working on a solid 2o2o.

In these representative sequences I’ll be working on controlled turns (to the A-frame) in the face of wrong course options.

This is a variation on the same theme. Significantly the angle of approach to the turning jump is more square and will challenge my ability to be in a handling position. Well, it won’t challenge my position much as I am comfortable working on both the teeter and the weave poles at a pretty good distance.

Reversing the direction of one of the previous sequences introduces another bit that has my interest… the 0° approach (to the #2 jump). There are of course several interesting handling approaches to solving this. I will likely practice using a Post & Tandem solution, and a Front Cross solution.

An Interesting Week

At the end of last week and over the weekend we had the Ohio 4-H Teen Dog Experience for their third annual outing here at our facility. They take advantage of our facility rate. That allows them, for the rental of the two cabins (into which they stuffed like a dozen kids and their leaders) to get the full run of the property, including the training building, the pond & field and so forth. We’re of course delighted to have them.

As it turns out on the last day we had a scheduling conflict. We had invited the exterminator to do his thing (we’re waging a battle against “bat bugs). Of course Ohio 4‑H had the cabins… and we were locked out of our own house until like 5:00 in the afternoon. So here is the ad hoc office I set up for Marsha and myself in our tractor building. All of the dogs got to hang out in the x-pen which you can barely see to the left.

We survived. No worries.

It’s been a bit of a work week for me. I weeded the parking lot and front drive. I built a shelf of brood boxes for the chicken coop. And I refinished the deck on the house (a 3/4 wrap-around deck, obtw).

Here’s a good before-and-after look at the deck as I refinished it. It looks sexy, doesn’t it? It’s an oil-based finish and will hold that umber color for a couple years, I imagine.

In my spare time… mind you we have three young, untrained dogs in our house. We’re just getting a handle on the training implications. I probably shouldn’t include Marsha’s pup Phoenix in the “untrained dogs” statement. She’s made an introduction to weave poles using two-by-twos and the boy’s performance is looking sweet. Not bad for a six-month-old dog.

Haymitch, our Chihuahua/something rescue boy, is probably a year and a half old. He’s just being introduced to agility training and the whole concept of the training relationship. I’m thinking he’s a very promising prospect. Note we’ve had a lot of rescue dogs over the years… and they are rarely promising.

Finally my young rescue (???) Django is getting a really basic puppy introduction to the two-minute dog trainer. He’s gotten most of his meals in a 2o2o on our contact trainer. And I’ve just begun working with him on a sit-stay. After only a couple days I can put him in a stay, walk away six paces, and return to him without him breaking position. I’ve just introduced a recall (at the end of the six paces)… because he really needs a lot of development of the recall foundation.

This Weekend

I’m off to judge a USDAA trial in Macedon, NY this weekend. Tomorrow I’ll have about an eight hour drive from here to there. I expect it will be a dreadfully hot weekend. But I confess to loving a good out-of-doors trial. It’s the way agility was meant to be played.

I am really looking forward to this. The courses for the weekend incorporate several interesting riddles that provide lots of opportunity for my continued education.

My Republican Heroes

Okay, this is a short list… but it grew today:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Chief Justice John Roberts


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

Pattern Spacing in TDAA Course Design

June 23, 2012

In reviewing courses over the past week I’ve looked at a number of courses that include considerable technical work on a variety of recognizable agility patterns. It struck me that I should present a tutorial specific to these patterns so that I can reiterate the spacing guidelines for course design in the TDAA.

This is a pentagon star. It is an interesting arrangement of jumps that allows for a course design with robust possibilities in crossing patterns and other handling challenges. The key spacing features you should see here include:

  • The short transition in the straight line between jumps #1 and #2. Note that in a straight line the average interval between obstacles should be about 8′.
  • A more generous transition should be provided as the dog’s path turns, as you can see in the turn from jump #2 to #3. When the dog is working at speed the handler deserves a minimum of 12′ to manage the dog’s turning radius.

It’s a solid 20′ from the #2 jump to the jump labeled “a” in the red circle. Although this is a long transition if the sequence is crossing through the star we’ll live with that attribute of the pattern in order to preserve the proper transitional distance in the corners.

This is a simple Hobday box. Again I show the straight line introduction with a modest 8′ interval. And, again, the design must allow a minimum of 12′ to accommodate the dog’s turning radius. In the transition straight across the box it is 16′ between jumps.

In a serpentine the course designer should give consideration to how much room the wings of a jump encroach in the real estate available for the handler to move in between the jumps. We’d like the space from the end of one jump to be a full 6′ from the end of the next. Imagine, if you will, a lady in a wheelchair moving through the line of jumps.

The spacing of the uppermost serpentine creates a more generous dog’s path because the wings use up a lot of the interval spacing. And so the jumps should be moved apart. You’ll note the red (6′ wide) hurdle in the lower right corner. I use this to measure between the jumps in the illustration.

The wingless jumps in the bottom serpentine allow the perfect 12′ turning radius for the dog while allowing the handler an adequate 6′ passage between the jumps.

In the classical four-jump pinwheel we look for a minimum of 12′ for the dog’s turning radius between the jumps.

It might seem that the intro jump, #1, is spaced generously away from jump #2. However, in the transition from jump #5 to #6 the handler deserves a minimum of 12’ to avoid the wrong-course jump (#1).

The left-most of the two drawings in this illustration is a straight line. The jumps are set with intervals of 8′ between each. In the second drawing the middle jump is offset. Again the course designer must provide the handler with a minimum of 12′ to accommodate the dog’s turning radius. We repeat that requirement in the transition from jump #3 to #4.

This is an arrangement of hurdles we call “stair steps”. This too is a straight line and should be granted an average of about 8′ between hurdles.

In this drawing although the dog begins the approach in a stair step manner, he is turned away from the final jump in an open box. Note that the third step has been moved back to an even 12′ on the landing side of jump #2 and the dog is given 12′ in the transition between jumps #2 and #3.

Now we introduce the exercise with a straight line transition that requires the dog to do the first jump of the stair steps out of a turn. Consequently the designer will allow a minimum of 12′ for the initial turn.

A Possible Project

I’m considering putting together an eBook for TDAA judges that includes a wider variety of common agility patterns and challenges. Like other eBooks I’ve done over the past five years or so it would be designed so that the reader could click on the drawing and load it directly into CRCD.

After I thought about it for awhile… it occurred to me that it would be really easy to have a drawing of every facility commonly used in the TDAA (along with equipment owned by those clubs) so that our designing judges wouldn’t have to wait for the club to communicate these details.

I’ll let you know how this project takes shape.

What Would Jesus Do?

Profit alone is not a sufficient moral guideline for our lives.

There is a proposal to decimate the food stamp program in the budget offered by Congressional leadership; putting children at risk of starvation, in this country.  Our leadership should be invited to study the bible as a framework for rejecting this idea.

I apologize if the following is a difficult, unfamiliar read.

Matthew 25:31-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”


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

The Pill-bug/Pinwheel Exercise

June 14, 2012

I had a private camp here this week, working with a group of ladies from Ft. Wayne, IN. Fairly early on the instruction revolved around distance training.

We fall into this interesting pattern in agility. By focusing on the technical and handling we dispose the dog to come to an understanding that the game is supposed to be played at the hip of the handler. If the dog is tied to the handler’s hip, then his speed will always be limited to the speed of the handler and of the hip.

The dog’s trainer should endeavor instead, and early in the dog’s training, to give permission to work at a distance. If we dispose the dog to come to this understanding of the game, then the game can be played at the speed of the dog.

Following is a simple exercise intended solely to tear apart the Velcro fabric that sticks the dog against the handler. Remember that Velcro is a two-part fabric. And it takes both parts for a good stick.

This is a form of the exploding pinwheel exercise. We use a pipe tunnel rolled up like a garden pill-bug to shape the dog’s movement at a distance. Initially the dog has few options except to work through the jumps to make his way back to the handler.

Only gradually are the jumps moved away from the pipe tunnel at the center of the exercise. As the jumps are spread apart the pipe tunnel should be opened up, just a bit at a time.

The biggest difficulty I have with students who are introduced to this exercise early on is that they won’t know which direction to face when sending a dog into a pinwheel. The handler is conditioned to face his shoulders as though moving parallel to the dog. However, if not actually moving, the handler should face each jump, in turn, as the dog works his way around the pinwheel. Note that for the first three jumps the handler pretty much faces the same direction.

Now the pinwheel is fully exploded and the pipe tunnel at the center has been opened up to its full size. I’ve brought in a second pipe tunnel to create a handling flow to introduce the approach to the pinwheel.

I don’t really like the idea of standing still while the dog is working at a distance. Part of the riddle becomes how to use the available real estate to maintain motion while the dog is working. The movement should be disciplined, always providing pressure to whatever obstacle the dog is working.

I should have mentioned early that at each step in exploding the pinwheel the handler should work the dog in both directions so that the skill is owned ambidextrously.

Here I’ve reversed the direction of the previous exercise. Well, that’s not all I’ve done. Since we have a dog working at a modest distance, we might as well ask him to do something a bit more advanced. This might call for a bit of development in the prerequisite skill… weaving at a distance. Some dogs won’t understand a handler working 20′ at a distance if the dog hasn’t been prepared for this possibility in training.


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

Skill Set

June 10, 2012

Courtesy of Nancy Gyes and Alphabet Drills (available at I’ve come up with the following exercises based on the letter “J”. That being said, this jumping configuration is intended to introduce the Rear Cross to a dog. It’s actually quite an ingenious and effective exercise. Nancy credits the work of Susan Salo in her description of the exercise.

In case it isn’t immediately obvious to you, the sequence of jumps is intended to set the team up for the Rear Cross. Starting from either side the handler would start with dog on right and then Rear Cross the dog coming out of the long stem of the “J”. To get equal work on the ambidextrous skill the sequence of jumps would be set in mirror image.

In case you think I’ve erred in the spacing between jumps either at the top of the “J” or in the pinwheel… this is exactly as Nancy has designed the sequence; demanding a bounce between jumps that are only about 5′ apart.

It is my tradition to beat the Rear Cross out of my Novice students, and then teach it to my Advanced students. This exercise is ideal for the introduction. It is useful for the handler/student to have experienced eyes on his movement to help with subtle mechanics which might spoil the introduction.

Mixing Thing Up a Bit

Moving one of the jumps in the upper handle of the “J” opens some interesting handling options. In this sequence the handler still uses the Rear Cross at jump #6. Drawing the dog in a tight right turn at jump #7 opens jumps #8 and #9 into a flat two-jump serpentine.

It’s easy enough to incorporate other obstacles into this jumping sequence and still get a good workout on building the Rear Crossing skill. You’ll note that it’s a different exercise for a dog jumping 12″ than it is for a dog jumping 26″. In addition to fortifying the handling skill (Rear Crossing) the dog gets a workout in collected jumping in the two ends of the “J”; while learning to open up his stride on the flat in the stem of the “J”.


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

A Rooster in the Oven

June 9, 2012

So now we have nine chickens. Three of them are roosters. That means they eat every day, but don’t contribute anything back to the household. Marsha has a favorite, a little undersized boy she calls “Chicken Little” because he’s constantly carrying on about how the sky is falling and whatever other peril fills the moment.

Our chickens are all technically “free range”. When I get up in the morning I let them out of their coop. And they wander around the property eating bugs and making poop. In the evenings I put them back in the coop and lock it up. It’s a young flock. They will begin laying in about August. I’m looking forward to that. Have you ever had fresh yard eggs? You can’t buy them in the grocery store.

When I see Chicken Little I think “Rock Cornish Hen”. Okay, the grocery store gets away with selling young undersized chicks and calling them “Cornish”. It’s no real sin if I do too. A little time in the oven, served with roasted potatoes and asparagus. Such a vision!

Of my two big Jersey Giant roosters… one will get to stay with the flock. The other will be a real meal, for adults, with left-overs. Have you ever had a roasted free range chicken? You can’t buy them in a grocery store.

The Letter D

Courtesy of Nancy Gyes and Alphabet Drills (available at I’ve come up with the following exercises based on the letter “d”. I have a student here for the weekend for a series of private lessons. She’s interested in the Front Cross as an ailing element of her repertoire. It’s easy to find Front Crosses in the letter “d”.

I’ve decided that following along with Nancy’s scripted exercises is making me crazy. So, once again, I’m playing a game of What do you make of this?… and find my own sequences and handling remedies.

This is a simple exercise intended to solve the “riddle of sides”. I have one stipulation in handling… the handler must predispose himself to the side of every turn. This means that all of the changes of sides will be forward of the dog (Front Crosses).

Without belaboring this sequence with analysis… what I see here as handling would be: a Blind Cross from #1 to #2; a Front Cross from #2 to #3; another Blind Cross from #4 to #5; and another Front Cross from #5 to #6. The most technical of these movements is probably the Front Cross in the transition from #5 to #6. This calls for a squaring Front Cross. If the handler commits to a Cross on the landing side of jump #6 prematurely… the dog’s approach to jump #7 will surely be spoiled. The handler must understand where to set the corner of approach that creates a straight line through jumps #6 and #7… and allow the dog to get to that corner before committing to the Cross.

In this exercise the handler will put his Front Cross on the landing side of jump #6. Although this is a simple Front Cross it’s a marvelous opportunity to practice the mechanics of this common movement. I use a “pulling hand” in my Front Crosses so that my movement is always going in the direction of the course (what a concept, that). If you want a more thoughtful discussion of the pulling hand by an intrepid international competitor, you should Google “Jenny Damm”.

On the dismount of the dogwalk the handler will have another opportunity to Cross. This calls for what I call a technical Front Cross because it happens on the dismount of a technical obstacle. Note that the mechanics of this movement will be somewhat different for a dog engaged in a 2o2o bottom performance as compared to a dog with running contacts.

Because the dog’s path is an acute angle there’s a real possibility here of causing the dog to take a wrong course back up and over the dogwalk if the handler’s movement puts too much pressure back into the dog on his dismount.

This sequence requires a single change of sides, but it could be quite technical. You’ll note that the turn from jump #4 to #5 sets a line that goes nowhere near to the entry to the weave poles. So this will call for the handler to be the “architect of the dog’s path.” This is a job for a serpentine Front Cross. This is actually a combination movement, beginning with a Front Cross and resolving into a Post Turn. On the landing side of jump #5 the handler will commit to the cross, and then draw the dog around his “post” position to sweeten the approach to the weave poles.

Movie Mind Tweaks

I had a couple interesting moments with my DVD movie collection last week. I was watching Cinderella Man … it occurred to me that the fighter Jimmy Braddock had to fight to earn the championship title must have had a son who starred in a popular sitcom in the 1960’s. Can you name the actor and the character he played?

In the movie Terminal, starring Tom Hanks, Viktor Navorski visited an immigration officer every day as a go between for a secret admirer. One of the common interests of the officer and her admirer is that they were both “Trekkies”. She even made the familiar Vulcan hand sign at one point in the movie. So … what was her later connection to Star Trek in the movies?


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


June 6, 2012

I retired this evening from teaching agility classes. I’m not completely retired of course, because I have a lot of duties and interests outside of the weekly class. I sat down with my students this evening and told them that I will longer be instructing the weekly classes.

By the way if you’re one of my students and weren’t here tonight to hear the fine speech… get in touch.

Teaching agility classes has been an avocation to me, a profession. So, what’s my attitude tonight? Okay, I’ve never abandoned a student, not one, in over 20 years of teaching public classes. I’ve watched every metamorphosis from puppy to retired champion. I’ve witnessed multiple generations of dogs in the sport. And here I am walking away from my current/former students, all of them unfinished projects.

I feel relief; wistful regret. Nothing really earth shattering. It’s just another passage.

My Attitude About Dog Agility

I apologize for not writing a slick, erudite and pithy essay to describe “what attitude means to me”. Today has been a work day and leaves me with only a bit of time to wedge into my office chair to write my rambling blog.

Agility is just a game. We’ve propped it up with really artificial stuff like qualifying scores and titles and plenty of pretty ribbons to hang where we will. But it’s just a game, with a dog, in the park, on the weekend.

As an enthusiast, the only thing I have any interest in, is having a bit of fun with this game. This past weekend I had more fun playing with Kory than you can imagine! My boy is just coming into his own. Every time in the ring is a really fun puzzle. Mind you I was about one third natural-born-killer and about two thirds road-kill on the weekend. And, I was having fun even though I was on the verge of being crippled with an arthritis inflamed knee, and aching feet because it was a “new tennis shoes” weekend.

It’s hard to make a case for being passionate about not giving a damn (it’s only a game) without it sounding slightly discordant. That being said, I’m a student of the game, and a coach in the game. But on a very personal level, it’s just a game I play with my dogs.

I’ll see you out there. And I’ll have a hoot of a time watching you run your dog.

New Pup

Hey tomorrow I am going to pick up my new BC pup. This is another cast off rescue dog. So the household will now officially be: 2 pure-bred AKC registered dogs; and 4 rescued pups.

How do you like the name Django?

Anyhow, we’ve decided it’s a complete crap shoot whether you get a pure bred dog or something from Petfinders. Getting a dog from a breeder is no guarantee of the dog’s working attitude (hey, there’s that word); his overall health, or his mental fitness. So I’m good with the idea of a “rescue” dog.


Synonyms: view, opinion, feeling, mental outlook, approach, belief, bent, bias, pretended behavior.


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


June 5, 2012

You must know that I have to rely on considerable distance work in agility. I just don’t move the way I once did. Kory put on quite a show on the weekend, working generally at a spectacular distance. Of course, nobody really wanted to be me. I’ve said for a very long time that working at a distance is like throwing cards into a hat on a windy day. And that’s how the weekend went for us. We were at about 50% qualifying vs 50% crashing & burning in spectacular fashion.

Following is the Round 2 Steeplechase, designed by USDAA judge Richard Deppe. The following account is the anatomy of my crash ‘n burn on the course.

The key to using distance work to survive technical bits is to make those technical bits control points. That means the handler will have a close proximity to the dog to demonstrate, by handling the direction of the course. When walking the course I was torn between the blind/managed approach to the long jump and getting Kory to see the oblique presentation of jump #11 on the dismount of the A-frame. Oh, I could give him a good “Right” command from some distance, to be sure.  He would be just as likely to turn hard into a wrong course pipe tunnel (#12) with that strategy.

So, I decided to trust in Kory’s turning radius at jump #8 to carry him out wide enough for a square approach to the long jump. I got the judges whistle as I turned him over jump #11 into the pipe tunnel. I hadn’t even bothered to watch the performance of the long jump. The judge confirmed that he had a cross-cut performance (a refusal) on the hurdle.

So, I just left the course without finishing. What would be the fun in that?

To tell you the truth, a Steeplechase course is typically a wide open zing compared to Masters standard, or the Grand Prix. When the technical control points are presented on either end of a span, as in this course… I simply will not be able to be in both places. I don’t believe that many judges consider old arthritic farts like me in their course design. It’s all about the long legged youngsters.

I’m not daunted, mind you. Because I had a lot of fun this past weekend. And I’m fully aware that Kory is a very young dog, getting better all the time. My only real regret is that I didn’t capture the big cash winnings so I could stop at McDonalds on the way home.

It also occurs to me that I’ve never done “around the clock” training with the long jump [though I’ve asserted in writing that I’ve done around the clock with all agility obstacles.] I’m thinking I’ll take this project into my training program. Imagine actually training your dog to completely understand which approach/dismount is correct on the long jump. Now there’s a thought.


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

Death Throes of the American Dream

June 4, 2012

I’m watching the political drama in Wisconsin as it unfolds. There is an important vote in the next 24 hours in the recall election of Scott Walker (and several of his criminal cronies).

This all began way back when the Republicans committed to their “Contract on America”. The movement began with stunning success. Newt Gingrich spat on the Great Society, and shat on the American Dream.

What happens in Wisconsin tomorrow is a test of whether democracy can survive against emerging fascism in America. There is huge outside money overmatching the local populist opposition at a ratio of 16:1. It’s a fire-sale on democracy.

I’m not terribly optimistic. The media assault of propaganda, misinformation, fabrication, hate mongering, and confusion has been terrific and unrelenting.

The pathetic toad of a human Rush Limbaugh is certainly the icon; but the entire Fox pretend-News machine has certainly been an important instrument in confusing and misleading those who are otherwise good people. In fooling these people… Limbagh, Fox, et al are also betraying them.

You know what is my favorite story of the Republican Fascist party? Down in Texas the Republican machine approved a plan to put a nuclear waste dump on land that is a part of the Ogallala Aquifer []. To allay the concerns of environmentalists Republican “experts” managed to redefine the boundaries of the Ogallala aquifer so that the waste dump is technically not sitting on it anymore. This is environmental gerrymandering. Very slick you fascist pricks.

Oh, by the way. When the radioactive waste gets into the aquifer, which it will, it will contaminate the drinking water/and crop irrigation for about one-third of continental America. And you know the fun part? The tax payer will get to pay for the clean-up (if it’s even possible), while the rich Republican scum-bag who owns the waste-dump bears no real responsibility.

Pardon my rant. I’m just so excited by what’s going on in Wisconsin in the next 24 hours, I had to vent. The Walker recall vote will be a measure of how many Americans own brains. Like I said… I’m not optimistic.


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

OMG What a Fun Day!

June 2, 2012

We were in the ring like eight times today. This is an amazing pace. It was all pretty much good. Kory qualified in Advanced Gamblers and Jumpers; but missed a contact (A‑frame) Advanced Standard. In Team we didn’t embarrass ourselves (just hold fast); and our team finished the day in second place. Kory went wrong course in the Grand Prix; but won his Steeplechase run. Okay, it was just a lot of fun today. It’s all good.

Kory held up well and was ready to go every time we went into the ring. But when we got back to the Red Roof… well, you can see.

Team Standard Opening

Mostly I think people will remember my distance work on this day. Trust me it’s not a matter of being lazy. I simply can’t run the way I once might have. My philosophy is, trust your dog and let him go out to work. I save my moments of near proximity for those technical moments in the course.

This was the start of the Team Standard course. The threadle between #2 and #3 mostly inspired in the field a grinding moment of micro-management. Note too that a Front Cross doesn’t create a great approach to the A-frame.

I tried to illustrate here my solution. I took the long lead out and after jump #2 called Kory into a “Come By”; which means for him to circle me tightly in a clockwise direction. It worked just hunky dory, and sweetened the approach to the A-frame

What I learned on the Day

Well, I’m going home and setting our A-frame up to the USDAA championship height. We spend too much time in classes on wimpy CPE and AKC elevation… which makes the A-frame a different obstacle. Kory missed about half of his down contacts on the A‑frame today. This is something I have to take back to our training program. ‘Nuff said.


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

Training in the Ring

June 1, 2012

I’m all settled in to the Red Roof. This isn’t my favorite. But, it has all the essentials and is a comfortable enough routine for me. Kory is getting to be a bit of a veteran hotel guest as well. He knows how to tell me when he needs to go out to get busy (sometimes at 2:00 in the morning); he knows when he gets his meals; and he knows when it’s time to go to play.

I’m away this weekend for a USDAA trial with BRAG in Cols, OH. I’m on a team draw, and all the usual classes. He’s all in Advanced in the USDAA, don’t you know, except for the tournament classes. I’ll be six or seven times in a ring each day. It’s a wicked grind compared to the lah de dah pace of the AKC.

And I’ll be training in the ring.

Of course there are explicit rules against training in the ring, in all venues. Oh pish. The definition of “training in the ring” as written in any set of agility rules is a simple acknowledgement of the most ham handed clumsy kind interference with the dog as you can imagine. That certainly isn’t what I intend.

What I really want to do is take a deliberate course, work all my contacts for an extra second or two, and give my boy basic and enthusiastic validation for his work. This is training, and there’s no question of it.

Training in the ring has a different vantage point as well. It’s a thing I call “Samurai training” which is really basic parry and thrust with a wooden sword. The team, dog and person, each are learning every nuance of the other, whether deliberate or subtle.

I’m not really going to judge our weekend in the field by the arbitrary and artificial measurements of Q and title. It is only training. And it is, after all, only a wooden sword.

At Home Warm Up

I wanted a little reminder before we went away for the weekend of contact performances and Kory’s “named obstacle discrimination” training. In this sequence, for example, I pretty much hung out at jump #1 while giving Kory verbal directionals. The reward of choice was a Frisbee, which I delivered for a good stick on the A-frame.

This set of the floor allowed several interesting training sequences. I had to get a good look at the weave poles as well. I was also interested in this sequence in getting him to turn away (to the left) neatly at jump #5. Again, my “handling” position was somewhere between jump #1 and the A-frame.


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