Archive for January, 2016

Technical Rear Cross

January 19, 2016


Early on I observed that crossing behind the dog on the approach to a contact obstacle is likely to cause a fault (notably a refusal). Consequently I resolved that changing sides on the dismount is almost always better handling.

But sometimes those crafty evil judges will design a course that traps us and takes away the option to cross on dismount. So it is a prudent matter to train and condition both the dog and handler to understand the technical Rear Cross[1].

There are an abundant number of scenarios which demand our attention in training. I have presented here a simple intro.

Follow these simple rules:

  1. You must allow the dog to go forward of the handler in a Rear Cross (you can’t cross behind if you’re not behind.)
  2. Work in a very straight line until the dog is committed to the obstacle (if the dog is on the A-frame, you can call him committed.)
  3. Don’t take the crossing step before the dog is committed. It is the premature step that elicits the refusal.
  4. Try to minimize the transitional line… that is, the length of the handler’s movement from side to side. The longer is that line, the greater the chance that the Cross will fail.
  5. If an all possible, the handler should appear alongside the dog before it even occurs to the dog that the handler has changed sides.

Please note that in the intro exercise another Rear Cross might be practiced on the second approach to the A-frame. We always endeavor to be ambidextrous in agility.

[1] No movement in agility NQs more dogs that the Rear Cross. It’s good to have a Rear Cross for the emergency. Not every emergency should not be of our own invention.

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League Play With Flow

January 8, 2016

I’m delighted that the first league game we will play in 2016 is the 60×90 National Dog Agility League course. To tell you the truth, although this is a technically challenging course, after the “International” style courses that have been the main for the past few months this one feels like a breath of fresh air.


The key features of this course include the modest “cluster” defined by the two pipe tunnels under the dogwalk and the two jumps: #5 and #15. The dog passes through the cluster only twice. The other notable feature is the two tunnel-under-the-contact discrimination moments, first on the approach to the #8 dogwalk; and finally on the approach to the #14 pipe tunnel.

Truthfully, the challenges in this course are more suited to intermediate or advanced skills.

The opening probably begs for a lead-out. A dog forward of the handler tends to curl to the handler’s position. So if the handler is behind the dog could bend towards the handler after jump #2 and not make a clean pass through the box and into the weave poles.

The passage from the teeter to the #6 pipe tunnel might have several different handling possibilities. The pipe tunnel is framed to the dog given a straight approach through jump #5. It might be useful as a training exercise to go through some of those possibilities. Clearly dog-on-right and dog-on-left are the obvious options. But we shouldn’t discount that some handlers will allow the dog the performance of the teeter from a considerable distance, possibly layering to the opposite side of jump #5.

The wrap from jump #7 back to the dogwalk will be a telling moment in the course. Clearly, in league play, the game is won by the efficiency of transitions between obstacles. So the handler in this moment must make the most efficient turning cue in his repertoire. This too might be a matter for discussion in class/training. Note that the handler will be on a full bore run just to tag the jump. This is an important variable in cuing the turn.

The performance of the table will be a 5-second count without regard or requirement for obedience performance… as they do in AKC. With my own students I want to have a discussion about taking up a useful downfield position to press the attack to the #14 pipe tunnel.

The closing is fairly delightful, making this course finish with a flourish. A Rear Cross is pretty much dictated at jump #16.

Three Course League Play

The National Dog Agility League is going to a three League format for two compelling reasons:

  1. To accommodate a variety of different working spaces, and
  2. To focus on different levels and styles of challenges

I’ve already given some thought to how we will deal with the other two NDAL league courses (we, of course are going to play in all three leagues). That discussion is on the NDAL Blog.

Top Dog Review

22 minutes of your life you’ll never get back, YouTube magazine: TopDogReview

I had a lot of fun making it. This video demonstrates the drama of league play competition.

Jumping Into the League

New clubs are welcome to establish franchises with the National Dog Agility League. It’s very inexpensive and is a great foundation for play and training.

Most of the details can be found here:

Email our trial secretary if you need help getting started: Bud Houston ~

Blog1085 Home

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.