Internationalization pt 3 ~ Ketschker

Okay this movement is all the rage right now. It can be defined as a combination movement: Front Cross followed by a Blind Cross. I’ve been teaching it for about 15years. I originally called it the Mitchell Flip; because the first time I ever saw it was by a student of mine during an RFP[1] exercise. He did this thing that clearly was not an RFP. Though what he did worked in the exercise. Being one never to dismiss a thing that works, I began to study the movement, and then to teach it.

Mitchell went on to train with a smart aleck in the sport who forbade him from using this movement. And so I’ve pretty much trimmed the “Mitchell” from the description of the term and in my own writing now call it the Flip. With some irony I note that the “smart aleck” now, some 15 years later, has incorporate the Flip in her own handling repertoire because she has observed it winning in competition.

I looked back to find where the Flip might have first appeared in my own writing. On my web store, by the way, I have something like five years of unique weekly lesson plans; for three training levels and nested with a weekly league play game. These are documented in the pages of the JFF Agility Notebook; available at: Notebook. Anyhow, here’s a PDF sample page from the October 2000 Notebook: Sample.

About eight years or so ago I got a note from Pati Mah; after she read something I’d written on the Flip to tell me that she had been using the movement for a couple years. So, we really shouldn’t give everything over to the Europeans as the onliest innovators in agility. We’re just slow to adopt in this country.

In the same time period I got a note from somebody in Europe who told me this was a movement they were playing with in Europe, where they call it the Ketschker.

The set of equipment I typically use to teach the Ketschker comes from the opening sequence of a course once used at the AKC Nationals. Correct me if I’m wrong I think it was 1999 or 2000; and I’m pretty sure it was round 4.


 Do you remember this sequence? Animal Planet covered the event. They showed this bit with Elicia Calhoun and her dog Soni… earning a refusal at the #2 tire. They played that bit over and over again; and she made the same mistake every time. To be fair, she was approaching the riddle as a Vee-Set. Soni went into the fourth round leading the pack. Had Elicia pulled this off, she very likely would have won that year.

The handler starts the Front Cross as the dog commits up through the tire. The handler must pull the dog in the perpendicular transitional line and then commit to the Blind Cross before the dog can actually catch him. The amazing thing about teaching this… most people are successful the first time they every try it. And yet, a big number of them fail when using their default handling plan. Of some 350 masters dogs and their handlers, about 25% of the field failed on this opening.

Only two dogs got to see a Flip to solve this opening at the AKC Nationals that year. And both of them were successful. I even remember the names of the two dogs[2] after all these years.


This YouTube video demonstrates the Ketschker that is used simply to tighten the dog’s turning radius: [Chip, handled by Rosie Ison.]. Note that the handler might simply have drawn the dog on Post. But she gambled, effectively, on the notion that the Post is a softer cue and the dog’s turn might have been much wider than necessary.

Here’s a video complete with schmaltzy music that gives the movement a real workout

Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day

If I were pressed to define what it means I’m not too sure I could come to a definition agreeable to everyone. If you craft a good one, I’ll put it on the Glossary of Agility Terms.

I was going to do a full rant on Internationalization. Indeed, this is third is a series I’ve been working on in anticipation of the Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day Internationalization topic. The first two I wrote were: Part 1; and Part 2.

In a broad sense Internationalization is two-fold: Course challenges, and handling skills. If I sound like I object to the course challenge side of the coin; It is not the challenge itself that I object to. It is the course designer’s bloody-minded approach to placement. Many movements require control position by the handler. That means the handler needs to be right there with his dog to get it done. So imagine that the course designer puts a control position challenge in the upper-right corner of the course map; followed by a diagonal speed building run to the lower-left corner of the ring. Now we’ve created a scenario in which only fast long-legged kids can race from corner to corner keeping pace with their Border Collies. Us old folks are left pitifully out of position just wishing we were there.

Challenge Course

Here’s a very short and interesting course that several clubs are running (under the aegis of Top Dog Agility Players) over the next couple weeks. We’d be delighted if you would join us. Please note… all scores will be aggregated as a single competition. If you want to play drop me a line at I’ll send you a score-sheet and give you a heads-up to rules for performance and faults.


A More Fulsome Grind

This is not a Top Dog course (but could be!) I included this just to make it a more full-length course.


Course Design College ~ Understanding the Dog’s Path

I’ve been reviewing a lot of courses the past few days. I would very much like to address the course designer’s responsibility for engineering a square and safe approach to contact obstacles.


This is the kind of thing I’ve been seeing (and way too much of it). Taking the picture at face value you must be thinking “What’s the big deal?” The dog’s path looks perfectly straight and safe for the approach to the dogwalk.

Here’s the problem… the line was drawn by the Clean Run Course Designer. And what you must know is that CRCD is an idiot robot. Note that the corner of approach is out modestly on the left of the jump labeled #2. In truth, there is no corner of approach at all to the jump… you should draw a straight line out of the pipe tunnel through the jump to truly understand the dog’s path.


This is the dog’s path, more truly rendered. Most dogs will actually manage the up-ramp of the dogwalk just fine. But a dog working at any real speed will get on the ramp out of square and will dump off the ramp, losing footing, about half-way up.

This was not the dog’s fault nor truly the handler’s fault. It was the fault of the course designer.

Most challenges on course are essentially the course designer’s riddle. What is never an appropriate riddle to the competitor is… do you know how to do this without hurting your dog?


  The problem of approach is really easy enough to fix. The course designer might move the jump more to the south (down); or could rotate the dogwalk in anticipation of the dog’s turning radius.


All the foregoing being said, this is a perfectly acceptable on-course challenge. The placement of the pipe tunnel will surely protect the dog from too perpendicular an approach from the left side. And now the riddle is a valid one… do you know how to do this without earning the wrong course fault?

And you must know that the dog’s true path favors the wrong course.


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.

[1] The RFP, don’t you know, can be defined as a combination movement: Front Cross followed by a second Front Cross.

[2] Bogie and Birdie

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8 Responses to “Internationalization pt 3 ~ Ketschker”

  1. James D. Porterfield Says:

    I recall you demonstrating the front-blind cross in a camp in early 2002. I did one in class following your camp, and I believe everyone said, “what the hell is he doing.” I had no response, but the move worked on a tough discrimination challenge.

  2. Internationalization pt 3 ~ Ketschker | Dog Agility Blog Events Says:

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  3. Karissa Says:

    The first video you posted is not a Ketschker. It is one of the multitudes of videos posted on YouTube that calls itself a Ketschker, but isn’t. The second video IS full of examples of Ketschkers. The Ketschker is a blind cross jump wrap.

    You would not use a Ketschker in the ways you have described here. In your Notebook sample, though, one could certainly throw in a Ketschker at #4 in the black circles to get back to the tunnel.

    I’m not sure why there is so much misunderstanding on the internet over what a Ketschker actually IS.

    Your “Mitchell Flip” sounds more like an RFP with a blind cross. It doesn’t seem to involve jumping and it doesn’t seem to involve wrapping….

    • budhouston Says:


      It appears that your definition is considerably more narrow definition than much of the world. What narrows the definition, imho, is your insistence that in the combination movement a jump must intervene in the transition. In fact you can use the same movement on the flat for a remarkable kind of change of direction cue to the dog. Try to think outside the box.

      That being said, the Front Cross you are dismissing in your own definition is what I call a “pre-cue” front cross (there are 8 different kinds of front crosses). The handler pre-cues his intention to turn by offering the jump whilst turned back to face the dog. So, the handler has actually committed the front cross by that very action. The movement is completed by the Blind Cross.

      Regards & respect,
      Bud Houston

  4. Susan Eastwood Says:

    Been teaching the Flip to my students since I learned it from you a hundred or so years ago….Also have een teaching the Blind cross as well – obviously since it’s the last half of the Flip. I’m glad that now it’s more ‘accepted’. I’ve had students pass through from other trainers who refused to learn the blind because they’d been indoctrinated so strongly against it. To me that’s like refusing to use the Phillips-head screwdriver you have in your toolbox. They’re all tools and it pays to know how and when to use them.

  5. Rose Says:

    Why don’t you consider asking the dog to wrap a tire unsafe in the Fulsome Grind course?

    • budhouston Says:

      I spend a lot of time teaching my dog how to do the tire; and I do not fear turning after the performance. To you have some kind of information that shows this to be dangerous? Just curious.

      Bud Houston

      • Rose Says:

        You know, I just assumed asking for a tight turn after a tire was kind of risky. However, your curiosity made me search thru YouTube for tire accidents. I watched about 30 videos. In all but one, the approach was pretty much straight on. (The lone exception was from 2008.) Half to three-quarters of the accidents were due to the dog taking off way too early. Some of the crashes were pretty horrific, but I must say none were caused by having to turn sharply after the tire.

        I have a new-found respect for the tire–to the point that I may never use my crummy homemade one ever again.

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