Combination Exercise

In this series of homework exercises for the up-and-coming distance seminar with Canine Manners in Broken Arrow, OK we have shown a mix of training exercises aimed at a variety of distance skills. What I should like to show today is a combination exercise that tests several of those skills in the same sequence.

I’m mindful that the assigned homework might easily take months and months of patient work and practice. And in that patience and in that practice we fashion a dog that plays the game of agility without being affixed to the bum of the handler.

Let me show the challenge, followed by brief discussion, and supplemented by a short YouTube video.


The Strategy

  1. The handler will begin this sequence with a Back Pass. The Back Pass is a means of making a “sling-shot” start to the course. In this sequence it also serves to start the dog on a bendable line that serves as an introduction to the four-jump pinwheel.
  2. On the landing side of jump #1 the handler will turn the dog into the pinwheel with a layered Tandem Turn. Truly the handler won’t have much room to make a compelling step to sell the turn. Note that a dog with absolution directionals the initial turn is accomplished with a “Right” command.
  3. Of course the handler will stay outside of the pinwheel. The red line on the course map indicates that the handler must, stay outside. Note that the handler’s movement and the direction he is facing while the dog is in the pinwheel is very important. That movement and facing must give pressure to each jump in turn.
  4. In the turn from jump #4 back to jump #5 the handler will also show a Tandem Turn. This Tandem is far more advanced than the first as the handler is at a fair distance from the dog and at an obtuse turning angle from the dog. This turn in the dog’s path might also be accomplished with a “Left” command so long as that has been taught to the dog.
  5. The exercise ends with the performance of the dogwalk with the dog at an impressive lateral distance.

The Aftermath in Video

Truly the discussion of strategy took a lot longer than it will actually take to run the sequence.

Katniss Phoenix ComboExerciseFeb17 ~

Notes Aside

This topic may expanded and continued tomorrow! I am going to set up the February 2017 NDAL 50×70 Fast & Fun league course. This course promises a couple opportunities to send the dog out in huge pinwheel outruns while the handler seeks control positions on the opposite end of the floor. It should be a complete hoot.

By the way, after the seminar in Broken Arrow I’m heading across town to lead a judges’ clinic for the Teacup Dogs Agility Association. The TDAA judges clinic will have judge candidates actually practicing their judging in a real TDAA trial after two days of grueling classroom work and testing. I will share the calendar posting for the trial:


Mar  18 – 19 , 2017  TDAA trial number T17001
Canine Sports Academy – Agility
Norman, OK
Judge:  Bud Houston is judge of record, Judge applicants will do judging duties
Contact:  Dennis Gorman at
Indoors on Greatmats.
Classes include four standard rounds and four games.

It would be fun for some of the NDAL players down in Broken Arrow to come out for TDAA in Norman. Note that the TDAA is limited to dogs measuring 20″ or less.

Back in the day when I ran my old boys Bogie and Birdie I found that the TDAA made me a much better technical handler. The challenges come quick with short intervals between obstacles. The original objective of the organization, after all, was to give small dog handlers a taste for what big dog handlers face every weekend.

These days I like TDAA for a very different reason. I’m an old man with bad knees and the smaller rings spaces allow me to find control positions on course.

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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.

3 Responses to “Combination Exercise”

  1. Brenda Gilday Says:


    Love this exercise. Leela nailed it.

    I’m still working with Calvin, his young brain has not caught up with his talents yet. He know left, right, “come by”, and has great distance, but we haven’t been able to apply it to the course yet. He does it in practice and on practice courses (he is even running in the NDAL now), but loses it in “real” trial situations. He is really over the top. He is definitely a challenge. I’m now working on “way from” with him. He will just be 2 years old in April, so I’m being patient.

    I truly enjoy reading your “homework blogs”.

    If I was a more respected handler and not a “black sheep” in the AKC agility world, I truly believe Leela could make the world team (maybe with a more seasoned handler than me). I was told by many AKC and NADAC people that she has the fastest ground speed they have ever seen in a dog. Thank you Bud for helping bring out her talents.



    • budhouston Says:

      Of course Leela nailed it Brenda. Leela has done all of the foundation training that the exercise is intended to test!

      Thanks for giving me credit for all of your hard work. I always love when my students do that.

  2. Mary Green Says:

    Oh, Bud – it would be fun to do the TDAA, but many of our handlers will be running in an AKC trial that same weekend. I’ll be sure to spread the word!

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