Pattern Spacing in TDAA Course Design

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.

3 Responses to “Pattern Spacing in TDAA Course Design”

  1. my3fundogs Says:

    I like the idea of a book for judges with common patterns. But TDAA having a schematic of the arena won’t work for clubs such as SOAR. We use 5 or 6 different spaces to host trials. We have no permanent home.

  2. Kim Says:

    The possible project sounds worthwhile. but why not just a set of files with clickable links attached? Would be great if the host groups could upload the equipment lists and dimensions of spaces themselves to make updates and changes faster and easier. Just a thought.

  3. Paula Price Says:

    RE: WWJD. It’s an easy read, and the choice is pretty apparent to me.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: