Archive for April, 2017

Progressive Lateral Sequencing

April 8, 2017

In preparation for a distance training seminar at Clermont County at the end of April, I am posing a variety of distance training exercises for the clinic participants.

You can’t really do a distance seminar the same way you might do handler training. In a handling seminar you just grab the dog and run. Distance is all about dog training and homework and the ambition and work ethic of the dog trainer. And so, I give homework. I’m delighted to present years of homework and study to be accomplished in a few weeks.

In today’s exercise, the set of the floor allows the practice of lateral sequencing.


The progression has the handler working at a greater and greater lateral distance to the dog. The illustration shows three lines which step at 6′ intervals away from the dog. It’s not necessary to take such large progressive steps if the dog is unused to the handler being at any distance.

The YouTube recording features Katniss, who was nearly flawless. The exercise doesn’t always go smoothly. But it is a training exercise, after all. A “failure” in training is just information. It might mean that the trainer is progressing too quickly and expecting too much.

Triangular Pressure

“Triangular Pressure” is not common to the language of dog agility. This discussion is based on the observations of a handler and dog trainer who relentlessly amuses himself with distance training and play at distance games.

When a handler runs at the side of the dog the two are running in harmonious parallel. However when the handler has resolved to move little in order to gain some advantage in real estate then the rules of parallel motion are disturbed.

Triangular Pressure is the overt application of movement by the handler against the dog’s path to bring a target obstacle or path into focus. And it’s not as complicated as I’ve made it sound.

In today’s exercise the handler has been coached to apply Triangular Pressure to sell the lateral path to which the handler will move in parallel:


This illustration shows that the initial thrust of the handler’s movement is nearly T-square against the dog’s transitional path to jump #3. The timing of the movement would have to be nearly immediately after the dog dismounts the pipe tunnel at #2.

It has been my observation that this works neatly with dogs accustomed to working independently. Triangular Pressure might be less successful with dogs accustomed to being velcro’d to the handler’s bum.

Time Warp

The exercise described above is based on the set of the floor for the March 2017 NDAL Masters League. This is a fun game called Time Warp in which dog and hander teams can demonstrate their distance skills.


Time Warp is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus. The rules for performance in the NDAL closely resemble USAA (Advanced) and the TDAA. That means there are very few faults resulting in elimination. It is the intention of the league to achieve a certain granularity of performance that allows the placement and ranking of performances.

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The First Agility Skill I Teach a Dog

April 7, 2017

I have an ambition with my agility dog to teach independent performance. That ethic is taught early to the dog in a simple exercise… a send around a barrel.

The Accelerating Step

It’s a mistake to think that “distance” work with a dog has anything to do with standing still. Indeed the movement of the handler continues to speak to the dog. The Laws of a Dog in Motion are constant.

A basic discipline of the distance handler is the timing and placement of an “accelerating step”. It is a last moment step that establishes direction and motive to the dog. I say last moment to mean that in the moment after the step the rear of the dog is addressing the handler. And, as we all know, that is not the end of the dog with the eyes. So the dog mightn’t immediately know that the handler isn’t coming with.

It’s important to understand something important about the physical anatomy of the dog (aside from understanding which end has the eyes)… A dog’s field of vision is roughly 270°. This means that the dog feels the movement and antics of the handler even when the handler is slightly behind and to the side.

A human person has a field of vision of approximately 180°. You can test this: hold your arms at shoulder level straight out to your sides, and then fan your hands. In your peripheral vision you can just feel the movement on either side. If you were a dog the handler would feel the movement if you folded the arms back another 45° on either side.

A basic skill of the distance handler is the accelerating step. The following recording on YouTube provides a bit of illustration of testing the accelerating step:

The testing might have been better served by giving the dog a greater runway of movement. In the recorded example the handler had only a short approach to the send.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Visit our web store: You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

Clermont Continued… Absolute Directionals

April 5, 2017

The Masters game we’re playing this month with the NDAL is a Time Warp. That means there are several distance challenges that award bonuses that are subtracted from the dog’s Time Plus Faults score. In the game we are playing is the dog earns 5 bonus points for each pipe tunnel performed, so long as the handler is on the opposite side of the containment line.

You would think that a send to the tunnel is an easy kind of objective. But in this game we have a couple tunnel performances which probably require skills more advanced than a simple send to the tunnel.

Here’s the set of the floor:


The two tunnel performances that are a bit problematic are… #16 and #18. If the handler remains behind the containment line for #16 it’s possible that the dog will earn a refusal at the dogwalk on the dismount. So it would be advantageous for the handler to have a strong “Right” command to bend the dog directly out of the pipe tunnel and onto the dogwalk. It’s worth noting that the handler can actually step over the “containment” line as the dog finishes #16; so long as the dog is completely out of the tunnel. Timing might be a chancy thing.

Absolute Directionals ~ Tunnel Dogwalk Transition

The #18 pipe tunnel has no allowance for stepping over the line. The handler needs a strong “Right” turning command, or a very convincing “Tandem” from a distance to turn the dog away and into the pipe tunnel.


This is the basic training sequence. It might be approached by the clever dog trainer in modest incremental steps, beginning near to the dogwalk at first, and gradually working farther and farther away from the dog.

There’s no real substitute for the dog actually knowing “Left” and “Right”. But failing that, the handler might also develop relative handler cues (and antics) which speak to the dog to turn.

Here’s a YouTube video of our own work on this training sequence:

I’ll have more for you, tomorrow.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Visit our web store: You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

Distance Training at Clermont

April 4, 2017

For the up and coming distance training seminar at Clermont County (Milford, OH) I have already specified a bit of homework. I’m recognizing that the homework is to an extent overwhelming.

The curriculum for distance training is a simple matter, really. The dog’s trainer has specific objectives and is armed with exercises and protocols to achieve those objectives. Then it’s a simple matter of putting together a daily training regimen that develops those skills in a modest and progressive structured training program.

To facilitate ongoing training with my own dogs I use the “set of the floor” in my own training center to find training and proofing exercises to further the skills of my own dogs. With this in mind we’ve set up the April 2007 NDAL Masters course to find suitable distance training exercises for our dogs.


As luck would have it… the NDAL course for April is a game that rewards bonuses to the dog for several distance challenges.

For the next several days I will find exercises in this set of the floor that suitable for a distance training program. These might emphasize skills used in the NDAL game; or might be totally unrelated to the game but serve our objective to teach the dog great distance skills.

Lateral Distance on the A-frame


This is a simple exercise, really. We want the dog to finish the performance of the A‑frame with the handler working at a progressive lateral distance. This training is complicated by the dismount protocol used by the handler. The handler might want a “running contact”… or, as in our case, the handler might want a 2o2o unambiguous finish to the A-frame.

This is a slightly advanced study because the handler is seeking not only a clear 2o2o until released, but the handler is working to continue in motion while the dog assumes the unambiguous finish position.

The training steps have been recorded here:

This recording features our red-headed crazy boy, Phoenix… who really needs this work.

I’ll have more for you, tomorrow.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Visit our web store: You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.