Training with Games

It’s a relatively simple matter to cleverly disguise training objectives within the context of a simple agility game. Playing a “game” has certain benefits for the agility instructor. The game can be used to measure skills and analytical abilities for each student. And, of course, by putting a stopwatch on the dog and scoring his performance puts the special pressure competition on the handler.

Below I’ve adapted a very old agility game called “Power and Speed” to work on very specific training objectives. In case it’s not obvious, we’re working on a nice stable finish on the dogwalk in the Power section and pose a nice handling riddle to test analytical skills in the Speed section.

Power and Speed



Each handler and dog runs a course that is split into two sections: Power and Speed.

Power – The Power section is occupied only by the dogwalk on this course. It is performed back-to-back-to-back.

The Power section is un-timed. Consequently the start-line is positioned between the last obstacle of the Power section and the first obstacle of the Speed section.

Any faults earned by the dog will be added to the dog’s score. For example, if the dog misses a contact or earns a refusal on a contact obstacle, his score would be 5 for the Power section. Obviously, the ideal score for the Power section is 0.

Speed – The Speed section contains a straightforward Jumpers sequence. The goal is for the dog to run the course as fast as possible, preferably with no faults.


Scoring for Power and Speed is Time, Plus Faults: faults from the Power section plus time from the Speed section plus faults from the Speed section. The dog with the lowest score wins.

Catching Up

Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve written to my blog. You’ll have to forgive me for finding priorities that are higher. It’s kind of a perfect storm of circumstances. I have of chores and work to do; and I don’t have the stamina I used to have for working all day. There was a time I could work a full-day… then flip a switch, and work well into the evening. I just don’t have that switch working much anymore.

I have to ramp up for our month of Top Dog. And so I’m going to do a training series that features a new game or course each week.


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.


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