July 2016 League Play

The National Dog Agility League is going more broadly international in July, with a club in Australia beginning play, and with clubs in South Africa and New Zealand studying when they might begin. It turns out that they have winter in July down in New Zealand. So that club needs to get past the cold and frightful weather.

We also have a new club in Colorado beginning in July (BowWowz Dog Sports in Colorado Springs). Competition is starting to heat up!

60×90 Masters

I’ve finally set up the NDAL 60×90 Masters-league course in our training building. I thought that I would share it and maybe talk about the “interesting” bits. As you can see, this is a course that I designed. Next month we’ve invited Dennis Vogel (Cloud Nine in New Hope, MN) to be our game master.


The opening is fairly straightforward but begs for diligent work, with a tight wrap off of the tire into the #4 tunnel (the A-frame inviting the wrong-course). The handler has to be thinking about which side to work on the approach to jump #5. Dog-on-right might work; but there’s more to go wrong with it than dog-on-left.

The handler might also be thinking about his position on the dogs dismount of the weave poles. The #7-9 serpentine offers two distinct wrong-course options. And frankly the game is won and lost in quick little jumping sequences like this. The dog might do the three jumps turning neat… or he could forge in wide & wobbly turns.

We’ll have a bit of fun with the closing. It is an odd mixture of opening te dog up into full extension, and then drawing him into collection. For example… from jump #9 and most of the way to jump #11 the dog should be in full stride. But the handler wants to put him in a lower gear on the landing side of jump #11 to turn neatly towards the next jump (and away from the weave poles); and cause him to continue to tuck in after jump #8 to get to the nearer entry to the #13 pipe tunnel.

Out of the pipe tunnel the handler has to give a turning cue to the left with some likelihood that he’s on the side away from the turn.

It’s a lovely course and should be a lot of fun to run. This course will be judged on a Time, Plus Faults basis.

36×85 Fun & Flowing

NDAL courses are based on the size of the working space. And, you’ll note, each has a theme. To my own thinking “Fun & Flowing” means that it doesn’t have a bunch of wicked technical challenges that require the intrusive micro-management of the dog by his handler.

That being said there should be an element of challenge. Fun is like an adrenaline rush, like riding a roller coaster. I don’t know if I pulled it off in the design:


This course features two counter-side tunnels [that’s when the dog’s logical path has him approaching one side of a u-shaped pipe tunnel; but the judge has put the number on the other side.] Aside from those features this course is pretty much a collection of pin-wheel sequencing.

On both performances of the#4/13 pipe tunnel the handler needs to step in and get the dog aimed in a direction other that where the pipe tunnel was pointing.



We will do the 50×50 International and the 50×70 Fun & Flow courses on a different night. I’m afraid your game master made a terrible nesting mistake. I’m sure some of the clubs will catch this mistake if they try to run more than one on the same day/night.

50×70 Fun & Flow


There’s certainly a serpentine kind of theme going in this course. And by definition there might be (could be? Should be?) multiple changes of sides and changes of direction, all with the dog working at near best speed.

The most overt technical challenge is probably the tunnel discrimination on the approach to the A-frame at #15. This will certainly give us an opportunity to make the “discrimination” a training topic in class.

50×50 International


As the name implies the 50×50 is focused on rather tough “international” skills. I don’t believe what I’ve designed here is oppressive. And I’ve certainly tried to create logical flow. Of course the interesting moments are those that defy logic. On this course the key challenges are clearly: the very tough approach to the weave poles; the pull through from jump #9 back to the tunnel; and the backside performance of jump #12.

The National Dog Agility League

The league continues a wonderful pattern of slow growth. We’re working on automation to allow players in the league to query stats and standing. A new league series begins right now! You can get the lowdown on the NDAL blog.

Blog1145 NDAL

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance apart.

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