Archive for the ‘Agility for Small Dogs’ Category

TDAA Small Dog Agility Excellence

June 29, 2015

The mission of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association has ever been to create challenges for the small dog that are comparable to the challenges presented for big dogs in other venues. The emerging challenges from international style of play are gradually being insinuated into TDAA coursework.

This is intended as a primer for the design of those international-style challenges, with a nod to existing course design guidelines.

Pull-through

A pull-through is a sequence that requires the handler to draw the dog past two perfectly good obstacle choices to the performance of an obstacle through the gap.

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This sequence features two pull-throughs. The first is from jump #2 to the “hidden” entry to the pipe tunnel. The second is the transition from jump #4 to jump #5. This second pull-through is a threadle, which is by definition a pull-through in which the jump just taken becomes a wrong course option.

Design Notes: Between jump #2 and the wrong course A-frame, the course designer must allow a minimum of 12′ for the handler to work his magic. In the transition from jump #4 to #5 the gap between jumps must be generous enough for both the dog and the handler to move through.

Back-Side

A back-side can first of all be defined as an obstacle approach that is hidden to the dog and must be managed by the hander on the flat.

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This is an illustration of a hard backside, meaning that the wrong side of the obstacle is presented to the dog as a logical choice, though it is a wrong course option.

Design Notes: A minimum of 12′ must be left to the handler after jump #2 to avoid the wrong course option.

A soft backside is a managed approach that does not explicitly present a wrong course option to the target obstacle. By definition a 270° turn is a soft backside.

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The backside is not limited to jumping sequences. You’ll recognize that this is a hard backside.

Design Notes: A minimum of 12′ must be left to the handler after jump #2 to avoid the wrong course option.

Cluster

A cluster is an arrangement of obstacles with multiple entries and multiple exits. The classic Hobday Box is surely a cluster.

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A cluster is an arrangement of obstacles with multiple entries and multiple exits. A dog entering the cluster faces multiple options to exit. Aside from offering a variety of wicked challenge possibilities, the cluster allows a lot of action in a small space.

Design Notes: For the cluster to do its work to enhance sequencing possibilities in a small space, all of the obstacles in a cluster should not be used up in a single pass. If you think about it, the dog should be able to move through the cluster two or three times without much reuse of obstacles. And so for a fixed footprint, the course designer can raise the obstacle count and reuse fewer obstacles.

En Passant

An En Passant is an arrangement of obstacles that requires the handler to move the dog around an obstacle on a curve to a hidden approach.

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The en passant is an excellent example demonstrating that many of the International-Style challenges create unusually long transitional distances between obstacles. This is expected and acceptable. The long transitions give balance to the arduous technical bits and micro-management.

Finishing Thoughts

The real difficulty with the International-Style Challenges in any venue is the degradation of the dog’s working speed to solve challenges which call for some degree of micro-management. It is truly an art form to create a course that flows and for the most part allows the dog to work at his top speed while presenting the dog and handler with wicked technical challenges along the way. Avoid any course design with relentless technical demands. A Superior/Masters level course should feature no more than two or three such challenges. Outside of these the course designer should endeavor to build speed and allow the dog to mostly work with an open stride.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

Short Sequencing (in the basement)

February 18, 2015

Our space in the basement isn’t really all that big. I’m antsy to get out in the training building and put together some of the skills we’ve been working on. But don’t you know we’re living through the Blizzard of 2015; so I’m content to continue in the basement until the world thaws out a bit.

Here’s a very short YouTube: http://youtu.be/dD-pDyxoBB0

I’m about ready to bring in another set of 2x weave poles. Cedar’s intro to weaves is about six months earlier than I did with Kory. But she’s like a learning machine and I thought… what the hell, why not?!

This has a bit of a Teacup flavor to it. And indeed we intend to show her in the TDAA. But I would like her to excel in other flavors of agility as well. The TDAA sharpens the handler’s timing and awareness in a way that none of the big dog venues can accomplish with a small dog.  An important mission of the TDAA is to give the small dog handler a taste of timing skills that handlers of big & fast dogs have to master for day-to-day survival in the big-dog flavors of agility.

I ran across this old video of me running a loaner dog in a jumpers course (out at Zona’s place in Arvada, Colorado!) http://youtu.be/WljrZe_sf9U

Play in the TDAA is not for the faint of heart.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Our Girl Cedar

December 18, 2014

Cedar, I’ve decided, is a smooth-coat Sheltie. Her coloring is certainly a mahogany. The Sheltie “mask” is evident on her face. The white tips and chest blaze finish up the coloration. But there’s no undercoat and, frankly, no overcoat either. And those big bat ears are never going to tip. She’ll be 20 weeks old tomorrow.

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Cedar will not be rushed into competition. We intend to take it all slow and easy. Most likely she’ll see her first competition in the TDAA where dogs are small and friendly. The important thing about TDAA agility is that it will make her sharp in a way that’s not possible in big dog agility play.

Her training foundation will be as complete as we are capable. We’re obviously putting a high premium on independent performance. She’ll be a free spirit in a Velcro world.

Right now the emphasis is teaching directional… “Left” and “Right” and “Go On!”  We’re also making basic obstacle introductions. Pretty soon I’m going to add the Back Pass to the mix. Though I think I really need to blog up how to teach this skill and why I think it’s going to be an important handling/dog skill over the next decade.

40 Hour Work Week

You know the old joke that goes “How can you tell when a politician is lying?” Well, these days it’s a bit more complicated than watching to see if their lips move. They’re all getting real clever with language. Do you remember when they foisted the “Patriot Act” on us? That was the legislation that committed us to 12 years of a ridiculous war that cannot be won. There’s never been anything patriotic about the Patriot Act. It’s just a clever bit of language crafted to shame and pressure.

Today however we have the unique opportunity to see who is lying to us and, frankly, who is betraying the middle class. Every one of them who is spouting some sound-bite about “We need to restore the 40 hour work week!” … is a liar and a rat fink.

Here’s the deal, what they’d like to do is redefine a “part time” employee, who doesn’t get any of the perks of a full time employee as somebody who works less than 40 hours a week. That means if you work 38 hours a week, then you’re a temp. That really works out for the American corporation! They get to save a whole bunch of money (while screwing a whole bunch of working people.)

You don’t have to go far to see who wants to lie to you and betray you. Flip over to Fox Network. They are fond of liars and promote them at every opportunity.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Cedar at 19+ Weeks

December 17, 2014

She’s still a young thing, growing like a weed, and getting lots of early training. It’s an interesting commentary that this young dog, in her foundation training, has both “Right” and “Left”, a 2o/2o contact, does a pipe tunnel, and will send to a Hoop… but isn’t much house trained yet (doing her business outside).

I’ll share this rambling video with you: http://youtu.be/AAzXmyhy2RM

Only in the last couple of days I’ve introduced Cedar to the performance of a NADAC-style hoop. This was initially trained by free-shaping. She’s a clever enough girl, is well conditioned  to offering performance, and can figure out pretty quick what earns her praise and reward.

We begin with the simple performance of a hoop. I will add new hoops over the next few days and teach her to run through the lot of them for her reward. Then gradually, over a period of weeks, I’ll spread them out more and more until she is giving me the performance at a fantastic distance. When they are spread out I’ll include the “Go On!” directional which shall ever mean to continue working in the line of obstacles in front of her.

I’m mostly fascinated with teaching these skills to a small dog. She’s going to be whipstitch fast. So there’s no way I intend to make the error of gluing her to me for the simple work of agility.

Cedar’s Nobel Growth Chart at 19-1/2 Weeks

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You can see that during my “busy” period… I’ve left a gap in the chart. Nonetheless, Cedar is riding the classical Sheltie pattern of growth on a constant curve.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Snooker ~ Petit Prix Warmup

October 7, 2014

This is part of a continuing series, Games of the TDAA’s 2014 Petit Prix. Today I’ll talk briefly about Snooker, a familiar game in our agility culture.

On first glance, the closeness of the obstacles feels a bit daunting. In other agility organizations everything is spaced for the long-striding dogs who will cover 20′ or so in two or three strides. This gives us an opportunity to remember the Mission of the 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.

So there you have it. There’s nothing easy about the TDAA. We have a high standard for performance and spacing between obstacles so that small dog handlers face the kinds of challenges that big dog handlers face on any given weekend of play… in the big dog agility organizations.

Snooker

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Snooker is a two-part game. Each part is played and scored on a different basis. The objective of the opening sequence (the first part) is to score as many points as possible by alternately performing all of the red hurdles; and scoring points from the numbered sequence. The objective of the second parts is to run a short numbered sequence without fault.

Time starts when the dog crosses the start line.  Time stops when the dog crosses the finish line after the horn sounds or after completing the closing sequence. 12” and 16” dogs have 45 seconds; 4” and 8” dogs have 50 seconds.

Opening Sequence:  The game begins with an opportunity for the dog and handler team to earn points by successfully performing red obstacles, always jumps, valued at 1 point each. A successfully performed red earns the team the right to attempt one of the colored (non red) obstacles on the course, valued at 2 to 7 points. The team earns those points if the dog successfully performs the selected colored obstacle.

This is a 4-of-4 red format. All four red hurdles must be attempted.

When performing the combination obstacles, both obstacles must be attempted before going on to the next red or starting the closing.  If the first obstacle of the combo is faulted, the dog must be directed to perform the second obstacle even though no points can be earned.

In the opening all obstacles are bi-directional in;  combination obstacles can be taken in any order or direction.

Closing Sequence:  After the opening sequence, the team will perform all colored obstacles in the numerical sequence indicated by their point value (#2, then #3, then #4, and so forth, through #7). The dog and handler team will earn the value assigned to each of these obstacles as long as the obstacle is not faulted.

In the closing, combination obstacles must be taken in the numbered order and direction.

Scoring

Snooker is scored Points, Then Time.

Qualifying

  • Games I 35 points
  • Games II and III 37 points

Strategies of the Game

There are old pilots.  There are bold pilots…  There are no old bold pilots.
~ Chuck Yeager

There are two essential strategies of this game: Flow and Greed.

Flow

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I’ve drawn here a basic/logical flow strategy. The circled numbers represent the value of the obstacles; the square numbers represent the intended sequence. I recognize that the wrap from the fourth red hurdle to the A-frame is a bit of a technical moment in the flow… but there’s nothing out there really for the dog to attack after that final red hurdle except for the A-frame.

This course measures about 80 yards. Note that I’ve included the transition from the last “non-red” obstacle to the #2 jump because that is an important part of the puzzle.

Note that in this strategy the dog will still have to do the first four obstacles of the numbered sequence to earn a qualifying score. Anything after that is gravy.

There are other flow strategies that might be contemplated. It’s important for the handler and competitor to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his dog. Find something fast and smooth with as little technical churn as possible.  And, where you can be a little greedy, what can it hurt?

Greed

I had to share the old Chuck Yaeger quote above. I am always reminded of it when I thing about the “Greed” strategy. That being said, it is the greedy player who wins the game.

I will not endeavor to draw a path for the “Greed” strategy. The greediest opening would be all four of the #7 obstacles. Inasmuch as the approach to the A-frame is a problem from the two red hurdles to the left… maybe these can settle for a performance of the #5 or #6 (a combination).

Final Words

Remember that if you do the #2 jump after your last red hurdle, you’ll have to do the #2 jump again to begin the numbered sequence.

Let the judge be the judge. Don’t call faults on yourself.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Gamblers ~ Petit Prix Warm Up

October 2, 2014

This is third in a series, taking a serious look at the games of the 2014 Petit Prix. Please note that B&D has extended the closing date for the Petit Prix. You can get a copy of the premium here: Petit Prix Premium.

Gamblers is an old game in the dog agility world. I’ll present an example of Gamblers (a Teacup Dogs course) and then follow up with a discussion of strategy.

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Briefing

The objective of Gamblers is for the dog to accumulate as many points as possible in a specified time and then to perform a designated gamble (sometimes called a joker), also within a specified time, which consists of a sequence of obstacles with the dog and handler working some distance apart. Gamblers is a two-part game: the point-accumulation period and the gamble period.

Point accumulation period – You can take obstacles in the order and direction of your choosing. The dog may perform obstacles only twice for points. Back-to-back performance is permitted. There is no restriction as to order and direction except that the dog may not take two gamble obstacles, one after the other, during point accumulation. Obstacle values are:

  • Jumps are worth 1 point;
  • Tunnels and tire are worth 3 points;
  • The A-frame, teeter and weave poles are worth 5 points;
  • The dogwalk is worth 7 points.

The time allotted for the point-accumulation period shall be 25 seconds for big dogs; and 28 seconds for small dogs.

Gamble period – Successful performance of the gamble is worth 25 points. Time for the gamble shall be 16 seconds for big dogs; and 18 seconds for small dogs.

  • Gamble points will be lost if any of the following occurs:
  • The dog exceeds the time allotted for the gamble period or faults a gamble obstacle.
  • The handler steps on or over the containment line to aid the dog in performance of the joker.
  • The dog is directed to loiter near the start of the gamble while time remains in the point-accumulation period;
  • The dog performs any two gamble obstacles one after the other during the point-accumulation period;
  • The dog knocks down a jump included in the gamble sequence during point accumulation, making correct performance of that jump in the gamble period impossible.
  • The dog commits any performance fault during performance of the gamble.

Scoring and Qualifying

Gamblers is scored points then time. The team with the most points wins. Time is a tiebreaker only.  To qualify:

GI – 16 points; and successful completion of the gamble

GII & GIII – 18 points; and successful completion of the gamble

Strategies for Play in Gamblers

Timing

Be armed with a strategy that delivers enough points to qualify, and positions the dog near the start of the gamble with options for productive loitering.

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I’ve drawn on this course map a dog’s path that works the obstacles in the upper-right corner of this course. The line actually shows two performance of each of the obstacles in that corner.

Be mindful of the rules of the game. First of all, the dog is allowed to do obstacles only twice. And, you should understand the rule about “loitering” near the start of the gamble. If you are running your dog in a circle over obstacles your dog has already taken twice the judge—with a mind like a steel trap—will likely call you for loitering and negate the dog’s gamble. So, you should take care to reserve the performance of the obstacles in your “productive loitering” strategy until it’s time for that strategy to reveal itself.

If the dog already has the points to qualify (that’s what I said to do first, if you’ll remember), than chances are that the whistle will blow while working this performance of obstacles. But that’s the whole point. From anywhere in this corner the dog will have a good run at the opening jump of the gamble.

Where you almost certainly don’t want to be is coming down the A-frame in the direction going away from the gamble. The gamble time isn’t really that generous.

The 7 Point Obstacle

An important tradition in the Gamblers class is for the judge to give a higher value to an obstacle on the field. This is usually a technical obstacle, and typically gives a bonus of 2 points; so the 5 point dogwalk becomes a bonus obstacle worth 7 points.

Note that the 7 Point Obstacle is typically one that has some risk associated with it. For example, it might be so far away from the start of the gamble that it becomes a timing risk.

However, on this course, the risk associated with the 7 Point Obstacle is clearly the possibility that the dog could do two gamble obstacles, one after the other, during the point accumulation period. If you’ve paid attention to the briefing… doing two gamble obstacles (one after the other) will negate the gamble.  NQ

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On this course map I’ve numbered an opening strategy that neatly picks off the 7 Point Obstacle. The plan avoids going anywhere near the two jumps that start and the gamble. We’ve already established that the dog isn’t allowed to do two gamble obstacles (one after the other).

Dropping a bar in the gamble during point accumulation will also negate the gamble.  So, stay away from those jumps if at all possible.

This strategy delivers a qualifying score for the class. It would be fairly easy now to slide into the Timing strategy for the end of point accumulation that I described above.

Play to Your Dog’s Strengths

If your dog has a weakness, say on the teeter or in the weave poles you should not waste time with an optimistic reliance on the performance of those obstacles in the point accumulation period. Save that optimism for a standard class when performance of the risky obstacle is required, rather than optional.

On the other hand, if there are obstacles on which your dog will demonstrate amazing speed and skill, these obstacles should be the centerpiece of your point accumulation strategy. For example, the dog might have an amazing running contact and so the A‑frame might be highly desirable during point accumulation.

Flow and Transitions

Turning a dog degrades the dog’s rate of travel. A good point accumulation strategy for the Gamblers class should not feature a lot of gratuitous technical movement. Instead, the canny handler will devise a flowing plan of attack that allows the dog to work at full extension and at his best speed.

A notable exception to pure flow is the back-to-back performance. Obstacles like a pipe tunnel, the tire, the A-frame… maybe even the dogwalk are candidates for back-to-back performance. If you think about it, by turning the dog straight back you’ve made the transitional distance between obstacles negligible. Steal a second, earn a point.

The Gamble

A dog is well directed by movement, even when the handler is at some distance. The handler should calculate his movement to give a steady signal to the dog, and give pressure to the dog to move in the direction of the numbered sequence.

The gamble in the sample course above features a discrimination (two obstacles in close proximity) and the performance of a technical obstacle at a distance. Don’t be tongue tied as the dog makes his turn after jump #1 in the gamble. Give your command/verb for the dogwalk; Face the dogwalk; Point to the dogwalk; Move toward the dogwalk. And don’t step over the line.

It’s nearly fruitless to try to describe what the handler should do to raise the chance for success in a Gamble. They are always different.

A terrific strategy for success in Gamblers is to train your dog to work independently and at a distance.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Ripsaw

May 12, 2014

“Ripsaw” is terminology that I pretty much made up to apply to a sequence that uses a pipe tunnel that sets the handler up to run into his dog on the exit of the tunnel. This is easy to illustrate:

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In this sequence the handler probably wants to try to get the dog on his right side on the exit of the tunnel. Without drawing the lines myself I’m trusting that you’ll see that the dog’s path and the handler’s path cross like a scissor cut on the exit of the tunnel. This is a recipe for collision.

When I review courses I typically try to discourage this convention. But I’ve noticed in the real world that it occurs often enough. From time to time I’ll intentionally put the rip-saw tunnel into play in my own classes; but not without a discussion about how it should be handled.

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This is a fun sequence that features no fewer than two ripsaw tunnels. It’s a bit on the technical side; be content that I’m considering this for some USDAA Masters Challenge course down the line.

Without belaboring the handling advice, I find the thing I most often have to teach in a sequence like this is that the handler points more with his toes than with his arm and hand. So picture the handler in the transition from the #6 pipe tunnel to the #7… running the dog past the #7 tunnel, pointing at it with his hand, but ignoring it completely with his feet. <heavy sigh>

On the Road Again

I’m about set for a long road trip. This next weekend I’ll be in Pottstown, IL for a TDAA trial at Dinky Dogs! And then it’s on to Golden, CO for the Western Petit Prix. I’ll do the usual two-day warm-up workshop before the three day event. I’m actually competing with two dogs, Hazard and Haymitch; though I’m not holding out to be terribly competitive on these old creaky knees. I’ll also be bringing along my by Kory. He’s been carrying is rear left leg and so the trip will be nothing but crate rest for him.

The Petit Prix is about my favorite competition in agility. We don’t have any sudden death events. Everybody gets to stay in the game ‘til the very end and will ultimately be measured for placement by overall performance. Some of the finest small dog athletes in the country will be in attendance. It’s like small dog agility heaven.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Petit Prix

October 22, 2013

We’ve just arrived in Greensburg, PA for the beginning of a week that will include my favorite agility competition of the year… the TDAA Petit Prix!

The tournament features ten rounds of games and courses. There will be no sudden death penalties or dismissing any dog from the competition. In each round every dog will earn a score based on the overall placement against the field. When the dust settles… the dog with the most points wins.

Seven games and three standard rounds comprise the competition.

I’m thinking that the TDAA has developed the finest games players in the sport of agility. We can play any game imaginable; and we often do. Agility is not just a matter of “follow the numbers”. Anybody can do that. The TDAA challenges our fans with games of strategy and skill, games of cunning and guile, and games of speed.

The Petit Prix is the national tournament. It’s the one event every year where the best of small agility dogs get together to compete in a mix of games that test a variety of skills.

Obviously, I’m excited by the competition.

Tomorrow we start with the warm-up workshop. A few competitors who come early will spend two days training with me in study of the strategies for the games we’ll be playing in the Petit Prix.

I hope to share results of the Petit Prix on a daily basis here in my blog. I’m hoping that I have energy and effort to live up to this ambition. I’d very much like to publish or point to YouTube accounts of the competition. So, if you plan to be there… send me something to link!

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Class Plan

July 16, 2013

Okay, it’s about a bazillion degrees outside; and I spent the morning yesterday setting up this course on the grassy out-of-doors agility field. I don’t actually have minions to help me, so you can imagine the buckets of sweat that soaked my clothes.

Marsha isn’t a big fan of out-of-doors play. For me playing on grass is fundamental. It’s how agility was meant to be played. I’m sympathetic to Marsha, and everybody who prefers to play in the shade and away from the bugs. Weather is cruel more often than not in Ohio. Either it’s freezing and icy; or it’s muddy and wet; or it’s brutally hot. There might be a dozen days out of the year on which conditions are perfect for both human and canine.

I’m very aware of the safety issues when working a dog out in the sun. With our dogs, I’ll only work outside for ten or twenty minutes when temperatures are so high.

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This course, by the way, is both the oldest and the latest course challenge for Top Dog Agility. We’ve had a subtle rules change that allows re-running of any course. What it really means is that a course or game never “closes” but is left open like the high scores on a video game at the arcade where everybody has a shot at getting to Top Dog.

I’m having a conversation with a club down in Valencia, Argentina about joining us in the play of this course. That should be fun! Hey… isn’t it Winter in Argentina?

Meanwhile back at the ranch

I have a class coming this evening. The out-of-doors course will be our league play course. But class needs to be in the building (in the shade). I don’t have air conditioning in the building. The best we can do is run the big fans on people and dogs.

Since I dragged all of our big equipment down onto the field, that means I had to come up with a set of the floor for lesson planning purposes. Small Universe comes to the rescue! This is a product that I created (several years ago now)… which is a .pdf with a wide variety of sequences that are arranged by different dimensions. All I have to do is scan through them, find one I like, and then click on the picture to spawn it into Clean Run Course Designer. Then, of course, I can modify it for my immediate needs.

Small Universe has been a life saver for me many times over.

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I shared in my last blog a new contact training protocol for the 2o2o position. Marsha immediately put it to use for her crazy redhead BC Phoenix, and it has been transformative and amazing, IMHO. And so I wanted in this lesson plan to provide a foil for testing and practicing the method. What’s substantially different in Marsha’s work with Phoenix and this lesson plan… is that Phoenix gets to do his thing in the presence of other dogs and people. That heightens the crazy redhead gene, to be sure.

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I’ve reversed the flow so that we get to work in both directions. Naturally I have about six or eight sequences that are based on either set of the bi-directional equipment. You should know that our full-size teeter is on the lower field. I’ll actually be using one of teacup teeters (8 ramps) in class.

Crazy Calendar

For like the next three weekends I’ll be out on the road doing judges clinics for the TDAA. I’ll be traveling with Hazard and Haymitch and will have an opportunity to run both of them in the TDAA trials that are part of the TDAA clinic experience. It’s actually problematic whether I’ll be able to run them at all, because I’ll be very busy in the conduct of these clinics.

At any rate we’d love it if you can come out and run your small dog in one of our clinic trials. If you are anywhere nearby I’d appreciate the opportunity to meet you and see you work with your small canine athlete. Here’s the immediate schedule:

Jul  20 – 21, 2013  Trial   T13067 Agility Cues For You LLC
Louisville, KY
Judge-of-record/Presenter:  Bud Houston (w/judge applicants)
Contact:  Christina Wakefield   (e-mail:  agileticket@gmail.com) Indoors on astroturf with rubber infill.  Day of show entries allowed. Classes to be determined
Premium

Jul  27 – 28, 2013  Trial   T13027
Bella Vista Training Center Lewisberry, PA
Judge of Record:  Bud Houston  (applicants will be judging, records will show Bud Houston as judge)
Contact:  Stephanie Capkovic  (e-mail:  bvwestie@ptd.net) We have had an in-fill sport turf installed, 3 standards and 5 games
Premium

Aug  3 – 4, 2013  Trial  T13016
Rocky Mountain Agility

Arvada, CO
Judge of Record: Bud Houston (judge applicants and recerts will judge performance) Contact:  Zona Butler (e-mail: Zona@rmagility.com) dirt surface
Premium

Of course, I copied all of this right off the TDAA Events Calendar.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Hobday on Steroids

May 23, 2013

I promised to share the Saturday Rollacoaster ride. This was the JWW course put up on Saturday:

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There are four Hobday boxes on this course. It is a course that pretty much NQ’d every dog that is actually faster than the handler.

The use of real estate was especially devastating. The course runs the handler from corner to corner up the side; then down the side; then diagonal across the field. From a handling POV the handler must have a presence in or near the box to solve. Try solving this kind of thing from 30 ft away (or more) as I have to do with my dog who is faster than I am.

The audience was enthusiastic on the rare qualifying run. It’s a fun bunch of people in Western PA.

If I were to design such a course for a USDAA Masters Challenge class, I’m sure the course reviewer would ask me to tone it down a bit. Masters Challenge is supposed to be extreme… not crazy.

Without doing a blow-by-blow of the course let me illustrate one little moment in the course. In the dog’s path from jump #7 to jump #8 he is set on a wrong course trajectory to a wrong course at jump #1. In the TDAA, mind you, we require a minimum of 12′ for the handler to solve the wrong course option. So the spacing to solve the wrong course option on this AKC course is pretty much what we ask for in the TDAA. For big fast dogs, it really should be a minimum of 20′. And this “corner-of-the-box” option is presented like 7 times on this course. Good luck with that.

Here’s my run on this course: YouTube.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.


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