Lateral Distance on Technical Obstacles

To be sure so called “distance work” in agility is nothing more than a matter of independent performance.

The element of performance most overlooked by the typical agility handler is the extent to which the handler by position and movement are embedded in the context of the performance. For example, a handler may believe that a dog understands the dogwalk and will make both the approach and the dismount as taught.

But in fact some dogs understand that performance only so long as the handler is in proximity and, in the case of the dismount, either putting on the brakes or stopped altogether, and for all practical purposes sitting on the dog’s head. Even a running contact may require the handler to run in perfect parallel to the dog at a proscribed lateral distance.

The training objective for any technical obstacle is disengage the handler from the context of performance. Following is a recording of a training session calculated to incrementally extract the handler from the dog’s performance. In this case the subject obstacle is the dogwalk:

Progressively increasing lateral distance training should be applied to all of the technical obstacles including the A-frame, the teeter, and the weave poles.

In the Jokers Notebook (issue #0) refer to “Lateral Distance” beginning on page 92 and “Lateral Distance Work on Technical Obstacles” on page 94. It’s a simple and nearly obvious method.

See Also: In the Jokers Notebook (issue #0); “The Two Minute Dog Trainer – Killer Weaves” beginning on page 90. This introduces training on technical obstacles for an increasing oblique; (though the text focuses on the weave poles).

Caveat ~ While the training method is “simple and obvious”, the independent performance of technical obstacles is one of those skills that is earned or deserved from training and practice. If the dog trainer fails to train and practice it follows that the skill is neither earned, nor deserved.

Notes Aside

This is an ongoing series intended as homework for Canine Manners distance seminar students; March 20 and 21 2017 in Broken Arrow, OK, (and others interested in training great distance skills who might visit these pages).

This topic is expanded and continued tomorrow! I will present a combination exercise in which distance skills from several of the topics discussed in this Blog over the last few days are all a part of the same exercise. And I should like to show how some of these skills are used on one of the NDAL League courses scheduled for this month (February, 2017). [I’m mindful before using fanciful distance work in the league course of something my mother used to say to me. She said “If it doesn’t work, it’s not showing off!”]

League Play Connection

Canine Members, the club in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is an active franchise in the National Dog Agility League. The NDAL is a consortium of clubs around the world that each month will compete on the same courses under the same rules. And then all results are aggregated as a single event.

One very fun thing about NDAL league play is that for most dogs running the results include a link to a YouTube recording for each performance. It is very fun seeing how different handlers in different parts of the country solved the same course that you ran with your dog.

The NDAL fondly desires new clubs in: New Zealand, Belgium, United Kingdom, Finland, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, Russia, and Japan. Our league players are very curious about these different agility communities and would love to play and compete with them each month!

Here is an example of the results to a recent NDAL league competition:

January 50×70 Results

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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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