About Bud Houston
I am a dog trainer and seminarist making something of a living teaching dog agility. I live with my wife Marsha and four dogs in Marietta, OH on a very rural 28 acre property in a big log house up on the hill.
This space will mostly be used to record my adventures in the dog agility world and to work through my theories of training and handling. For the most part you will find that I am a “fringe” trainer who doesn’t sing from the approved hymnal of the sport. Yes that’s right, I’m quite crazy and dedicated to the opposite view of the world.
If you’re an uptight and controlling type of dog trainer chances are that you won’t much approve of what I have to say. So spare us both the awkward moment and go read a Clean Run article or something. For the rest of you… come on in, the water’s fine.
Bud Houston is one of America’s most popular agility teachers, stressing solid handing fundamentals and positive training techniques. He operates Bud Houston’s Country Dream in southeast Ohio.
Bud Houston is probably the most prolific writer in the sport of agility. He is the founding editor and publisher of the Clean Run Magazine. He is the author of 28 volumes of training manuals published in the pages of the Just For Fun Agility Notebook. He wrote the very popular series of Agility Training manuals published by Clean Run Productions (www.cleanrun.com). He co-authored with Stacey Peardot, Go The Distance a training manual aimed at teaching handlers to work at a distance from their dogs; and is the author of the Clean Run Book of Agility Games, second edition, a comprehensive guide to rules for agility games; and is co-author with Ruth Van Keuren the Junior Handlers’ Training Manual.
Bud is a USDAA Masters judge, and AKC Judge Emeritus (agility), and a JFF and TDAA judge; Bud is retired as a NADAC and DOCNA judge. Bud is working with CWAGS for the definition of the CWAGS agility program. His contributions to the agility community include founding the Clean Run Magazine, starting the largest Internet-based discussion group on Earth (Agiledogs). Today Bud is the agility editor for the Just For Fun Agility Notebook, a popular agility training publication.
Bud is the current President of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association (TDAA). The purpose of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association is to provide a competitive venue for dogs of small stature without regard to breed or pedigree; and to encourage course challenges that are comparable to the course challenges which face large dog handlers in other popular venues.
Bud’s expert commentary is featured on the USDAA Nationals video tapes for the first five years of this century. These tapes are available through the USDAA (www.usdaa.com).
- Founding editor, the Clean Run magazine.
- Author, the Clean Run Agility Workbooks (three volumes).
- Author, the Just For Fun Agility Notebook (29 volumes).
- Technical Editor, Go Rally Magazine
- Author, the Clean Run Book of Agility Games, 2nd Ed.
- Co-author (with Stacy Goudy-Peardot), Go the Distance.
- Editor, Kurt Glaub’s Construction Plans for Agility Obstacles.
- Editor and Co-author, Ruth Van Keuren’s Junior Handler Instruction Manual.
- USDAA Masters judge, 1993-1999; 2002-present
- AKC judge emeritus, 1996-1999
- NADAC judge, retired, 1995-1996
- TDAA judge, 2004-present
- DOCNA judge, retired, 2007-2008
- JFF (Just For Fun) judge, active, 1998-present
- CWAGS judge, active, 2009-present
Training Center Instruction
- Training Director, 1989-1990, Contact Zonies, Scottsdale, Arizona.
- Training Director, 1991-1995, Good Dog Agility, Mesa, Arizona.
- Training Director, 1996-2007, Dogwood Training Center, LLC, Ostrander, Ohio.
- Training Director, 2007-present, Bud Houston’s Country Dream, Waterford, Ohio.
The seminars I’ve taught are too numerous to mention. I teach approximately 20 agility handling seminars a year throughout the United States, and have been twice to Australia, where I led seminars across that continent.
These camps are divided into several specialized topics, including: Beginners, Novice, Advanced and Masters handling camps; Instructors Certification camp; Speed camp and Distance camp.
- Clean Run Camp, 1998 & 1999
- Camp Dogwood, 1998-2006. We ran as many as 10 camps each year at Dogwood Training Center.
- Bud Houston’s Country Dream, 2007-present.
I have at my disposal hundreds of exercises that have been tested and proven with thousands of dogs. I’m willing to work throughout the week in a program that provides balance and lots of pertinent information to either the new agility enthusiast, or the accomplished and experienced agility competitor.
Agility is not strictly a matter of training, and drill & practice. The underlying motivation and his relationship with his dog will determine the agility enthusiast’s entire approach to training, competition. My teaching begins with motivation.
- Agility is a Game – I emphasize positive training methods. It has been my experience over the years that the handler, on course, screaming “No!” at his dog, is blaming the dog for a handling error. A very important part of my teaching is to make the handler understand that negative or harsh training methods are de-motivating and demoralizing to the dog. The handler must learn to approach the game of agility playfully, and be an inspiring and rewarding member of the team.
- Dogs already understand the way we move – Agility is a game of motion. The dog at play with the handler in agility is directed mostly by how the handler moves. When you bring a young puppy into your house, the dog has you completely figured out, in terms of the way you move, within just a couple months. Much of my training is geared at showing the handler what constitutes natural movement, the kind of movement that is most intuitive to the dog.
- Agility is a Team Sport – Teaching the dog is a relatively easy task. As most experienced trainers know, however, teaching the handler is often the greater task. My teaching is directed at showing the handler that working a dog is a 50/50 proposition. My task is to teach the handler what is his 50% of the job.
Seminar, Camp and Clinic Topics
- Handling Movement Exercise -The exercise segment is based upon two or three specific exercises to teach what makes a perfect movement. A movement is a handling move that should be a part of every competitors working repertoire. The working exercise should be limited to 8 or 10 dogs, with unlimited auditors. Specific movements might include: The Crossing Turn; the Blind Cross; the Tandem Turn; the Back Cross; the RFP; the BLT, the Post Turn, and the Flip.
- Working a Dog at a Distance – This curriculum focuses on a variety of specific exercises to pry the dog and handler apart from the Velcro position, and give the dog permission to work at a distance apart from the handler, while giving the handler a sense of trust and confidence when doing so.
- Finding New Speed in a Dog – This training is an examination of the many things that we might do to create new speed in a dog’s performance. There are a number of reasons a dog works more slowly than he is able, ranging from the choices the handler makes in competition, to basic matters of relationship.
- Instructor Training – This is a customized curriculum. It can be adapted specifically and uniquely to the training center, or offered as an open enrollment for instructors from unrelated programs. In a two-day format the training will focus on teaching fundamentals for agility. An instructor’s certification program is available in a four-day format.
- Teaching Agility with Zero Compulsion- A workshop presentation, with demonstration dogs; 3-4 hours. This format is a discussion of teaching new dogs. The basic idea is to teach the teacher how this sport can be introduced without pushing, pulling, yanking, jerking, pinching, and all the other dumb mistakes instructors make in an agility training program.
- Games Strategies in Agility – This is an advanced workshop format and is adaptable to a variety of specific games: standard course work, gamblers, snooker (and, actually, dozens of other games). The games seminar focuses on championship strategies for games, and applying the handler’s repertoire of skills to solve the most challenging riddles.
- Running an Agility Training Center – I am available for intensive consultation on successfully developing an agility training center. With over 15 years experience I can provide expert guidance to the agility training center director on a variety of important business strategies: class structures, marketing, curriculum development, staff development, and site maintenance.
- Conducting an Agility Trial – This seminar focuses on teaching the participants the specific roles and responsibilities of workers at an agility trial: Show Secretary, Chairperson, Scorekeeper, Scribe, Timekeeper, Gate Steward, Chief Ring Steward, Master Course Builder, and a variety of supernumerary positions. This is a great fast start program for clubs contemplating or committed to conducting their first agility trial.