Training International Agility Skills; Part 3

This continues the discussion of “International” agility skills in training and competition.

It is inescapable that skills learned in practice for International competition will have application to all forms of agility. In today’s discussion we will use the November 2017 NDAL 50×70 Fast & Fun league course. Fast & Fun suggests a deliberate softening of technical challenges with more of an emphasis on flow and speed.

Judge for yourself:

November 2017 NDAL 50×70 Fast & Fun


Certainly this course  lives up to its billing. It is fast, with modest challenges, and pretty much allows the dog to move at his best working speed.

The player skilled at international methods isn’t typically concerned with “surviving” a sequence. It is all about the efficiency of the attack. An efficient wrapping turn at a jump, for example, might steal a second from the field. And so these moments are approached with bold calculation.


The turn from jump #2 to the pipe tunnel at #3 is an opportunity to practice skills which might inspire the dog into a tight wrapping turn on the jump. For our training purposes we will practice a Ketchker in this turn.

The Ketchker is a combination movement which begins with a pre-cue Front Cross which folds neatly into a Blind Cross. Both theory and ambition suggests that the dog will come over the jump already committing into the turn.

I’ll share a video of both training and practice of the Ketchker:



Another interesting moment in the course is the closing. The turn from jump #18 to #19 is problematic. I’ve drawn two lines on this course to demonstrate how a long and inefficient path (drawn in blue) will measure against a tight and efficient path (in red).

When you walk a course different handling concepts might compete for your attention. The handler might get the neat red line with a Front Cross, especially if the intention to Cross is shown to the dog as a pre-cue.

But we want to practice something just a bit radical. This moment too will be solved with a Ketchker. Rather than a Blind Cross as the second part of the movement, the handler will use a Back Pass. This is not the time to talk about what makes a these different. But they are.

Here’s how it unfolded in practice:

The Competition

Oh, this competition hasn’t been run yet. More than 200 dogs compete in the NDAL 50×70 Fast & Fun each month. Most of the franchise teams report their results on the last day of the month just to give the NDAL Secretary a good reason to stay up all night for a couple days.

When all the results are in, I’ll be sure to share them with you here. We have a bunch of dogs with mad skills. So the extent of my ambition is to post a score in the top 20 of this class.

The handler’s strategy/analysis offered above doesn’t answer all of the riddles on this course. The initial performance of the A-frame both in terms of approach and dismount will be wicked and fun. And the tightness of the turn at jump #16 will be an interesting moment in the course both in terms of how the handler accomplishes the task and… how the handler manages to be in position.  I look forward to seeing how these are solved by our league teams. It is fun to watch the YouTube recordings find inspiration in handlers on the other side of the world solving these same riddles.

Invitation to Play

New clubs are always welcome to join us for play in the NDAL. You can download the November 2017 50×70 Fast & Fun scorekeeping worksheet here:

You still have time to field a team for the November 50×70! A team score is made up of the top five scores from your agility club (whether you run only five dogs, or if you run 50).

Contact us for information on registering a dog or establishing a league franchise.

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Training the Puppy

I could not resist including a video in which we introduced the Ketchker to our young dog Pip in our crowded little basement agility playground:

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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.

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