Archive for the ‘Clean Run Course Designer’ Category

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.


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.


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.


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: Indoors on astroturf with rubber infill.  Day of show entries allowed. Classes to be determined

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: We have had an in-fill sport turf installed, 3 standards and 5 games

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: dirt surface

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


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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.

Internationalization pt 3 ~ Ketschker

March 7, 2013

Okay this movement is all the rage right now. It can be defined as a combination movement: Front Cross followed by a Blind Cross. I’ve been teaching it for about 15years. I originally called it the Mitchell Flip; because the first time I ever saw it was by a student of mine during an RFP[1] exercise. He did this thing that clearly was not an RFP. Though what he did worked in the exercise. Being one never to dismiss a thing that works, I began to study the movement, and then to teach it.

Mitchell went on to train with a smart aleck in the sport who forbade him from using this movement. And so I’ve pretty much trimmed the “Mitchell” from the description of the term and in my own writing now call it the Flip. With some irony I note that the “smart aleck” now, some 15 years later, has incorporate the Flip in her own handling repertoire because she has observed it winning in competition.

I looked back to find where the Flip might have first appeared in my own writing. On my web store, by the way, I have something like five years of unique weekly lesson plans; for three training levels and nested with a weekly league play game. These are documented in the pages of the JFF Agility Notebook; available at: Notebook. Anyhow, here’s a PDF sample page from the October 2000 Notebook: Sample.

About eight years or so ago I got a note from Pati Mah; after she read something I’d written on the Flip to tell me that she had been using the movement for a couple years. So, we really shouldn’t give everything over to the Europeans as the onliest innovators in agility. We’re just slow to adopt in this country.

In the same time period I got a note from somebody in Europe who told me this was a movement they were playing with in Europe, where they call it the Ketschker.

The set of equipment I typically use to teach the Ketschker comes from the opening sequence of a course once used at the AKC Nationals. Correct me if I’m wrong I think it was 1999 or 2000; and I’m pretty sure it was round 4.


 Do you remember this sequence? Animal Planet covered the event. They showed this bit with Elicia Calhoun and her dog Soni… earning a refusal at the #2 tire. They played that bit over and over again; and she made the same mistake every time. To be fair, she was approaching the riddle as a Vee-Set. Soni went into the fourth round leading the pack. Had Elicia pulled this off, she very likely would have won that year.

The handler starts the Front Cross as the dog commits up through the tire. The handler must pull the dog in the perpendicular transitional line and then commit to the Blind Cross before the dog can actually catch him. The amazing thing about teaching this… most people are successful the first time they every try it. And yet, a big number of them fail when using their default handling plan. Of some 350 masters dogs and their handlers, about 25% of the field failed on this opening.

Only two dogs got to see a Flip to solve this opening at the AKC Nationals that year. And both of them were successful. I even remember the names of the two dogs[2] after all these years.


This YouTube video demonstrates the Ketschker that is used simply to tighten the dog’s turning radius: [Chip, handled by Rosie Ison.]. Note that the handler might simply have drawn the dog on Post. But she gambled, effectively, on the notion that the Post is a softer cue and the dog’s turn might have been much wider than necessary.

Here’s a video complete with schmaltzy music that gives the movement a real workout

Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day

If I were pressed to define what it means I’m not too sure I could come to a definition agreeable to everyone. If you craft a good one, I’ll put it on the Glossary of Agility Terms.

I was going to do a full rant on Internationalization. Indeed, this is third is a series I’ve been working on in anticipation of the Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day Internationalization topic. The first two I wrote were: Part 1; and Part 2.

In a broad sense Internationalization is two-fold: Course challenges, and handling skills. If I sound like I object to the course challenge side of the coin; It is not the challenge itself that I object to. It is the course designer’s bloody-minded approach to placement. Many movements require control position by the handler. That means the handler needs to be right there with his dog to get it done. So imagine that the course designer puts a control position challenge in the upper-right corner of the course map; followed by a diagonal speed building run to the lower-left corner of the ring. Now we’ve created a scenario in which only fast long-legged kids can race from corner to corner keeping pace with their Border Collies. Us old folks are left pitifully out of position just wishing we were there.

Challenge Course

Here’s a very short and interesting course that several clubs are running (under the aegis of Top Dog Agility Players) over the next couple weeks. We’d be delighted if you would join us. Please note… all scores will be aggregated as a single competition. If you want to play drop me a line at I’ll send you a score-sheet and give you a heads-up to rules for performance and faults.


A More Fulsome Grind

This is not a Top Dog course (but could be!) I included this just to make it a more full-length course.


Course Design College ~ Understanding the Dog’s Path

I’ve been reviewing a lot of courses the past few days. I would very much like to address the course designer’s responsibility for engineering a square and safe approach to contact obstacles.


This is the kind of thing I’ve been seeing (and way too much of it). Taking the picture at face value you must be thinking “What’s the big deal?” The dog’s path looks perfectly straight and safe for the approach to the dogwalk.

Here’s the problem… the line was drawn by the Clean Run Course Designer. And what you must know is that CRCD is an idiot robot. Note that the corner of approach is out modestly on the left of the jump labeled #2. In truth, there is no corner of approach at all to the jump… you should draw a straight line out of the pipe tunnel through the jump to truly understand the dog’s path.


This is the dog’s path, more truly rendered. Most dogs will actually manage the up-ramp of the dogwalk just fine. But a dog working at any real speed will get on the ramp out of square and will dump off the ramp, losing footing, about half-way up.

This was not the dog’s fault nor truly the handler’s fault. It was the fault of the course designer.

Most challenges on course are essentially the course designer’s riddle. What is never an appropriate riddle to the competitor is… do you know how to do this without hurting your dog?


  The problem of approach is really easy enough to fix. The course designer might move the jump more to the south (down); or could rotate the dogwalk in anticipation of the dog’s turning radius.


All the foregoing being said, this is a perfectly acceptable on-course challenge. The placement of the pipe tunnel will surely protect the dog from too perpendicular an approach from the left side. And now the riddle is a valid one… do you know how to do this without earning the wrong course fault?

And you must know that the dog’s true path favors the wrong course.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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.

[1] The RFP, don’t you know, can be defined as a combination movement: Front Cross followed by a second Front Cross.

[2] Bogie and Birdie

Move Over Fast Eddie

October 22, 2012

Most of the discussion below has to do with something I saw doing course review (for the TDAA). I tried to explain to the designing judge a fundamental rule for dogs in motion, that “the dismount is dictated by the approach”.

You probably know that I’ve been working on contacts in my training. This is the bit that I put up on the lower field. I tried to create a course design challenge comparable to the dog’s path problem shown in the first illustration.

The real question is… is it an error in course design or a subtle and cruel riddle intended all along by the evil judge?

Surely, you see it?

Just in case you don’t see it… I’ll help out. The red line coming off the dogwalk is the dog’s true path through jump #5. It won’t take much for the dog to run through the plane of jump #6 to earn the refusal.

I set this sequence up for myself, frankly, because I’d very much like to solve these minor kinds of riddles myself in competition.

Before you can solve the riddle of the dog’s path, you have to see the dog’s path.

I’ve thrown away the sleepy/dreamy line drawn by the Clean Run Course Designer. It was a pretty line, but doesn’t much help our analysis.

The dog’s path from jump #5 to jump #6 is a two-corner transition and requires a two-corner solution. What I was playing with in my own practice of this sequence is using the “come-by” to solve. In the “come-by” I ask my dog to circle my body in a clockwise direction (come, by way of the clock).

However there are a number of interesting compound handler movements that will solve. A handler might get away with a simplex movement (single-corner); but that’s all they’re doing, is getting away with it. The fail rate will be considerably higher than for handlers who see both of the turning corners.

Top Dog Agility Players

I’m working at launching a new, very low-key, recreational agility venue. It has been my dream for many years to develop a recreational approach to agility that is affordable to just about anybody who wants to play. And I think I’ve finally got the correct model.

I’ve started a “blog space” for the venue at: The rules will be published soon.

Look for more information right here in my ongoing web log. I’ll tell it from my heart here. I’ll tell it from my brain there.

Handling Systems

The Handling System is a notion growing in popularity in the dog agility world. A handling system is a form of branding that dictates the handler’s methods for crafting and conducting the game with his dog using the recipe of some notable authority in the sport.

The subscriber to a handling system can be nearly impossible to teach. The more one-dimensional and dogmatic the system is then the less receptive the subscriber to adopt a balanced and rich repertoire of handling skills. A pity!

The downside of any handling system is that it’s really impossible to put into that recipe the rich abundance of thought and skill and love of that “notable authority.” He cannot give you what he is. He can only sketch out that bleak commercial product.

It’s hard to make an argument against the one true way. Always I’m left wondering why a famous handling system doesn’t allow for finding by scientific curiosity the correct mix of skills and methods for the individual dog. Whatever works is right. Right?

I guess an open-ended system is not a system at all. And without the system we defy the mystique of the guru. More the pity.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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.

Games of the 2012 Petit Prix ~ Part 2

September 20, 2012

There was a real attempt in the selection of games for the 2012 Petit Prix to offer a balance of different games that test the skills of a team in sequencing, strategy, distance, and consistency.

The final round will be Jumpers, a fast and furious sequencing game. Note that in a real departure from the format of any previous Petit Prix, the accumulated score from the entire tournament are held by the dog without being washed away. Our national champions will be determined by their earned aggregate score. The significance of this, please note, is that a dog can lose the final round… but win the tournament!

The games we’ll play are described in this series. For additional information and sample courses refer to The Book of Agility Games at

Call, Direct & Send

Call, Direct & Send is a numbered course that features the three distance challenges that give the game its name. This original AKC game is the invention of Will Koukkari and Sharon Anderson. Call, Direct & Send was once considered by the AKC as a “distance” game that might have become a part of the suite of required titling games. But this game was abandoned. Ultimately the AKC moved to the game FAST as the feature distance game.


In Call, Direct & Send the dog and handler team are challenged to solve three distance riddles on a numbered course. The three distance challenges that give the game its name include: a Call over one to three obstacles; a Direct or mid-course distance challenge of two to five obstacles; and a Send over two to three obstacles to close out the game.

In Call, Direct & Send, boundaries are drawn to indicate an area into which the handler may not advance while the dog performs obstacles at a distance. Otherwise, the dog should follow the numbers.

For each distance challenge successfully completed the dog earns 10 points. The scoring basis for this game is Time+Faults-Bonus.

Call – The Call is a lead-off at the start line, requiring the handler to call the dog over the opening obstacles. In the Call the dog is placed on a Stay at the beginning of the course while the handler leads out to a point on the course designated by the judge. The handler must then call the dog over the initial obstacles and continue on course.

Direct – The Direct is a mid-course gamble sequence in which the dog will be required to work at a distance from his handler. The handler must direct the dog over the sequence of obstacles without crossing a containment line indicated by the judge and continue on course.

Send – The Send is the final gamble challenge. The handler sends the dog to perform the finishing obstacles while working at a distance from the dog in an area designated by the judge.

This sample Call, Direct & Send course is based on an Excellent JWW course designed by AKC judge Melinda Harvey at Oriole DTC on April 18, 1999.


Call, Direct & Send is scored Time+Faults-Bonus. The team with the highest score wins.

Course Design

While traditionally Call, Direct & Send (CDS) was a Jumpers game, often including weave poles, the game has evolved over the years to include technical obstacles. It’s likely that this was an evolution of convenience as it allows CDS to be nested with standard courses.

Call, Direct & Send is not a standard course! That means that there are no required obstacles and there is no required number of obstacles, by class, as there is in the standard classes. This affords the course designer the leisure to design something lean, and to the point. That is the essence of the game.

This is a TDAA (teacup) example of a Call, Direct & Send course. It is nested closely with another game with minimal equipment movement. You can see the previous set of the floor here:

This course is fairly business-like in getting the three distance challenges done. The Call features a longish lead-out, by TDAA standards. The Call doesn’t really have to be anything tricky. It is intended to demonstrate whether the dog will stay for a modest lead-out.

In the Direct¸ from #4 to #6, the containment lines might seem generous. It is a riddle none‑the‑less and might not be as easy as it seems.

The Send, from just behind #12 to #13, is the end of the course. This closing gives a long straight lane of approach on both sides of the sequence. It is an honest test of the handler’s ability to send his dog straight-away over obstacles at a modest distance.

One of the most common errors in course design is approaching a distance challenge with a disturbed dog’s path or an intrusive handling moment. Allow the dog to flow into the gamble. Or, if you really want to make it a handling moment, at least provide enough real estate for the handler to demonstrate that he understands your riddle.

This discussion might suggest that the course designer’s objective in Call, Direct & Send is to dumb-down the challenge and make everything as simple as possible. That should never be your objective. But remember this, if you have never walked on the moon yourself, please don’t try to give us lessons.

Note that there’s a real opportunity to design a course that runs fast and gets you through the day quickly. Call, Direct & Send should not be a marathon.


A dog earning a score equal to or less than the Qualifying Course Time (QCT) will earn a qualifying score.

Establishing QCT

The QCT for the sample course shown above, in Course Design, might be established like this:

I’ve measured the course (in CRCD) and came up with a course distance of 66 yards. I’ll call it 68 just to add a fudge factor Running this through my Rates of Travel (RoT) calculator (applying rates of travel from the high end of the range since this is mostly a Jumpers course), I come up with the following numbers:

Games I 4″ / 8 “



12′′ / 16′′



Games II 4″ / 8 “



12′′ / 16′′



Games III 4″ / 8 “



12′′ / 16′′



The third column shows what would be the SCT if the correct rates of travel are applied. The QCT for this game, however, is reflected in column four. These numbers incorporate an “expectation for success”.  GI gets a QCT reduced by 10 points, anticipating that they’ll solve at least one of the distance challenges; GI gets a QCT reduced by 20 points, anticipating that they’ll solve at least two of the distance challenges; GIII gets the bad news, a QCT reduced by 30 points, anticipating that they’ll solve all of the distance challenges.

These numbers aren’t as onerous as they might sound. If the GII big dog, for example, runs the course in 29 seconds, but solves only one of the distance challenges. He’ll still qualify because his time, less the 10 point bonus, gives the qualifying score.

Please note that the table above is based on TDAA rates of travel, and TDAA jump heights.

Judging Notes

The judge should determine in advance how he will signal earned bonuses to the scribe. It might be a simple authoritative announcement of “Bonus!” Or, it might be an arm signal.

Note that this game should be judged using the rules for performance respective to the dog’s level. The weave poles, for example, might be judged differently for every class/level. And any contact obstacle would be judged for refusals for the higher levels; and possibly with a four-paw safety rule for Beginner/Novice.

It is possible for all levels to share the same briefing, and even walk the course at the same time. The real differentiation between classes will be the rates of travel and the qualifying criteria. The course itself can be the same for all levels. However, it’s common enough for the judge to draw different containment lines for different levels.

The judge needs a position on course to get a clear view of the containment lines. A gamble or distance challenge succeeds only when the handler stays on his side of the line, and the obstacles are performed without fault (dropped bar, wrong course, missed contact and so forth).

The judge should determine early how he or she will deal with people who return to their dogs at the beginning of the course to put the dog back in position for breaking a Stay. The tradition in the game is that when the handler leaves his dog the test has begun, and returning to the dog will negate the gamble bonus.

The Original AKC Variation

While the rules have morphed by play in other agility organization that actually play Call Direct & Send, it’s worth noting what were the rules of the game as it was played in the AKC. These are presented without warrant below.

Jumpers CDS (Call, Direct, and Send)

Scoring is based upon a 100 point system, 100 being perfect. Faults are deducted from the 100 points. 85 points are required to qualify. Time is used as a tiebreaker.

Call, Direct & Send is scored Points, Then Time. The team with the highest score wins.

Faults will be scored as follows:

  • Each refusal is faulted 5 points. In the Novice class, three refusals will be scored Elimination. In the Open class, two refusals will be scored elimination. In the Excellent class, one refusal will be scored elimination. (Note: An improper entry or missed weave pole in AKC is scored a refusal).
  • Each off course is faulted 5 points. Three off courses in any class will be scored elimination.
  • A knocked bar is scored elimination.
  • If the handler steps on or over any containment line while the dog is performing the indicated obstacles, the dog will earn a failure to perform.
  • Failure to perform any obstacle is scored elimination.
  • Failure to perform any of the three distance elements (Call, Direct, or Send) will be scored elimination. This includes stepping on or crossing the containment line.

All other performance faults will be applied as in the Standard classes, respective to the level of the dog.

Course Design ~ The typical Call, Direct & Send course will consist of jumps, tunnels, and weave poles. The contact obstacles are not used.

Competitors Analysis

A dog trainer who has given good focus to distance skills in the dog’s training foundation will have a pretty good idea about possibilities for success in a distance challenge or gamble. Know thy dog!

If the handler believes that the attempt of a distance challenge will likely fail and will certainly cost more time and frustration than it is worth… then the clever handler will decide in advance to forego the bonus and just run his dog through the sequence. The differential for the bonus might be made up in the dog’s speed in the overall course. Also, if competing in the TDAA’s Petit Prix (for example) the dog is accumulating a back-ground score for placement within the field. So even if the dog doesn’t qualify he’ll not be set back so far.

Good distance work has very little to do with standing still. Aside from the Call, the handler is more likely to have success with the distance challenges by applying the pressure of movement, while at a distance, and while honoring the containment lines of the course. The riddle of the distance challenge is in balancing the efficacy of movement against the placement of containment lines.

There is an excellent series of eBooks for distance training available: The Joker’s Notebook, issues #0 through #4, available at

Notes on CRCD-4

  • It used to be I could click on an obstacle or object on the course map, or select a group, and then nudge them in 1′ increments using the arrow keys. This was very useful for getting exactly the desired measured distance between obstacles, while maintaining the alignment of obstacles. Unfortunately in this new release the obstacles are locked to the underlying grid. And so, they will no longer nudge.

I will move my continuing notes on the Clean Run Course Designer v4 to a page on my blog, where I will continue to store notes. Ultimately I’ll point the developer/Glen Kime to that page in case he has any interest in usage notes to be taken into consideration for future mods and releases. That page is here:


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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.

Stealing Inspiration

July 26, 2012

You should know that I’m in Latrobe PA leading a TDAA judges clinic. One of the most painful difficult tasks I’m faced with is getting very novice course designers a push in the right direction. Mind you, there is reference material out in the world for this sort of learning… like Stuart Mah’s Fundamentals of Course Design for Dog Agility. But you should know that, if you’ve never gone through it, the learning curve for course design can be nearly overwhelming at first.

I’m going to suggest a possible approach to course design that mightn’t have occurred to uncle Stu. What if the designer was to run across a really nice little course out in the world… and just steal the darned thing for his own? Allow me to suggest how to approach such a project. Think of it as reengineering or “black boxing”… kind of the way the Chinese appropriate American technology.

If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from two, it’s research.
– Bill Mizner

I really like this course that I discovered on a browsing tour of the internet. It has really nice flow right from the beginning. On the dismount of the dogwalk there’s a little technical bit over jump #11 and a frankly tough approach to the weave poles. And then it opens up again with probably the most technical bit being the discrimination on the approach to the pipe tunnel at #18.

Okay, we’re going to borrow this course. Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first. This is apparently a course designed in Europe; because it’s laid out on a 5m grid, and the course ID stuff in the text box doesn’t resemble American English.

Let’s do the following:

  • Turn off the metric view (in CRCD, select View, and click “Metric” off)
  • Select the text box, and hit the delete key. We don’t know what any of that stuff means anyhow.
  • And just to have a little fun with it… let’s mirror the course right to left (In CRCD select Edit and select Mirror Course Horizontally).

Now we have a different looking course:

The course certainly looks different. Be honest though, this course still belongs to Sr. Baretta. There might be a couple simple tweaks the designer could make. For example we could put the #4 on the opposite side of the tunnel (American course designers after all loathe giving the dog the flowing entry into the pipe tunnel; lord save us from releasing the dog to work). And, we could put the table at #10… although that would lose us that interesting jump/weave pole transition. Also… we might put the course on its side.

Those tweaks would have the course looking like this:

Um, does this course still belongs to Sr. Baretta?

At this point the course designer should consider making some changes to the course that make the course something new and different… something that Sr. Baretta did not contemplate.

I’ll show the picture first, and then describe what I’ve done:

The sequencing in this course has been dramatically altered, and without losing some of the really interesting stuff. From the A-frame the sequence into the pipe tunnel is something altogether new. Note however that this raises the obstacle count; and so farther down in the course we’ll have to reduce the obstacle count.

The sequence from the dogwalk through jump #17 has been changed completely. In the transition from the weave poles to the newly positioned table we’ve introduced a dummy jump. Also jump #17 has been pressed in to provide more of an option to the dog in the transition from jump #4 to #5. And, we’ve turned the dog out to a new finishing jump. The tandem presentation of jump #20 and the collapsed tunnel at #11 is a challenge posed to the dog as an option two times.

Oh, and I changed the length of the pipe tunnel under the A-frame.

Plagiarism or Research?

Be mindful that one of our original objectives was to cure a bad case of the blank page and get moving with course design. And so we borrowed another course designers set of the field and had our way with it. So you answer the question… have we plagiarized the work of another agility course designer?

What if we took another step and reversed the course (ala NADAC)?

The hour is late and I really have to admit to something. In my haste to tweak out the last vestiges of Pietro Baretta I’ve ultimately created a course I don’t like very much. So I’m going to go way back to the third drawing presented in this post … and say that is the course I’d really like to finish up with. Italy is a long way away, after all.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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.

CRCD Dog Path Tool ~ Measuring the Course

May 23, 2012

This is a short tutorial on how to use the CRCD Dog Path Tool for course design purposes. The Dog Path Tool is a button icon: The first in the second row on the left side of your screen. This tool has several distinct applications for course design: Freehand drawing (of the dog’s path); Measuring the distance between obstacles; and, Measuring the overall length of a course.

Freehand Drawing

This is a set of equipment laid out on the field. I would like to use the CRCD Dogs Path tool to draw a possible path for the dog. As a course designer, if I’m happy about it in terms of flow and challenge, I will number it and call it a design.

To use the CRCD Dogs Path Tool for freehand drawing, I’ll click on the tool and then:

  1. Make sure that in the drop-down Connection to obstacles list, I’ve selected “Do not connect to obstacles.”
  2. Then click the OK button.

Here I’ve drawn a path for the dog. Note that as you draw you must hold down the left mouse button until the line is completely drawn.

Measuring the Distance Between Obstacles

I’ve gone through and numbered the dog’s path that I had sketched on the course.

The next thing I might want to do is measure the interval distance between obstacles. To do this I could either:

  • Delete the old path, and create a new one, or
  • Right click on the existing path to change it’s properties

To measure interval distances between obstacles the Dog Properties dialog box should be set to:

  • In the Connect to obstacles drop down list, select “Connect to numbers”;
  • In the Jump height widget select a representative jump height. You’ll note that the higher the jump height is set the longer the dog’s turning radius will be measured;
  • In the Number of arrow heads / lengths drop down list select “One per obstacle”;
  • Make sure that the Show path lengths on path checkbox is selected;
  • In the Units list select the measurement you are most comfortable with. When measuring interval distances I like to see either “Decimal Feet”, or “Feet and Inches”;
  • Click the OK button.

This view provides the opportunity to analyze transitional distances between obstacles.  You can move an obstacle (and it’s associated numbers); the interval distance will change even as you move it.

Measuring the overall length of a course

Once all of your equipment is where you want it and you are happy with the interval distances, you can use the CRCD Dogs Path Tool to measure the overall length of your course. You should draw the Start and Finish lines first because the measurement should include the distance between the lines and the start and finish obstacles.

To create the single measuring line you could either:

  • Delete the old path, and create a new one, or
  • Right click on the existing path to change it’s properties

  • In the Connect to obstacles drop down list, make sure “Connect to numbers” is selected;
  • In the Jump height widget select a representative jump height;
  • In the Number of arrow heads / lengths drop down list select “One for whole path”;
  • Make sure that the Show path lengths on path checkbox is selected;
  • In the Units list select the most meaningful measurement. When measuring the length of a course I’ll use “Yards”;
  • Click the OK button.

The measurement can sometimes be hard to find. You may have to move around obstacle numbers in case the measurement number is hiding under it. In this drawing you’ll find the notation of “149” yards in the space between the #10 and #19 jumps.

Note, by the way, that the Start and Finish lines have been drawn with some contemplation as to where the timekeeper should sit to get a clear view of both lines.

Breakdown Training Model

I had intended to write today about a training/teaching model that I call “Breakdown”. This course is based on specific challenges from a USDAA Grand Prix course that someone sent to me.

However, one of my TDAA judges sent a request that I explain how to use the Clean Run Course Designer Dogs Path tool to measure a course. I could take the hour or so it would take to tutor her on this… or I could share the tutorial with the entire TDAA Judges corps. I opt for the latter. This blog then is dedicated to the TDAA Course Design College.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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.