Archive for the ‘Dog Agility Training’ Category

NDAL December Courses

December 2, 2017

The National Dog Agility League is pleased to present the December 2017 league games and courses. This suite was designed by Wayne Van Deusen.

The NDAL currently engages in four league competitions. These are based on the size of the field and the complexity of challenge. December is the final month of the Winter Series, and of course, the final month of 2017.

The December 2017 games and courses are pictured below. Links are provided for:

  1. Downloading a scorekeeping worksheet
  2. Current standing in each league [note that most individual results are graced with a link to a YouTube recording so you can see how players around the world solve the riddles of each course.]

50×50 International

The December 2017 International league game is a numbered course. The scoring basis is Time, Plus Faults.

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Download the scorekeeping worksheet here:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet120117a50x50.xls

As the league name implies, this competition is run in a 50×50 competition space and is dedicated to very advanced and very technical handling challenges.

You can view the 50×50 International standings and results here: http://wp.me/p75niR-oC

50×70 Fast & Fun

The December 2017 50×70 Fast & Fun game is a numbered course. The scoring basis for this game is Time, Plus Faults.

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Download the scorekeeping worksheet:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet120117B50x70.xls

This competition is run in a 50×70 competition space and is dedicated to modest technical handling challenges with the dog allowed to work predominately at full speed.

You can view the 50×70 Fast & Fun league standings/results: http://wp.me/p75niR-oS

60×90 Masters

The December 2017 60×90 Masters game is a numbered course. The scoring basis is Time, Plus Faults.

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Download the scorekeeping worksheet here:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet120117C60x90.xls

As the league name implies, this competition is run in a 60×90 competition space and is dedicated to advanced technical handling challenges with the dog allowed to work predominately at full extension.

You can view 60×90 Masters league standings/results here: http://wp.me/p75niR-p5

36×85 Fast & Fun

The December 2017 36×85 Fast & Fun League game is a Numbered Course. The scoring basis for this game is Time, Plus Faults.

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Download the scorekeeping worksheet here:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet120117D36x85.xls

This competition is run in a 36×85 competition space and is dedicated to modest technical handling challenges allowing the dog to work predominately at full speed.

You can view the 36×85 Fast & Fun standings/results here: http://wp.me/p75niR-pm

FAQ

Dog Registration

Click to download a registration form for your dog:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRegistration.pdf

Rules and Regulations

Click to download the Top Dog Rules and Regulations eBook:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRules3.5.pdf

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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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Training International Agility Skills; Part 4

November 25, 2017

This is a continuing discussion of “International” agility skills in training and competition.

The Back Pass

Today I’m going to make a case for the Back Pass. This is a skill taught to the dog in which we ask the dog to tightly circle around the handler. In obedience some handlers have taught this to the dog to bring the dog around to heel side. In agility we want to teach our dogs to work ambidextrously, able to work both on left and right. So the agility handler will teach the dog to circle around both clockwise and counter-clockwise, presumably on different verbal cues.

Usage ~ Pros & Cons

Think of the Back Pass as an alternative to the Front Cross. Indeed, in some respects it resembles a Blind Cross. The chief difference is that the Handler isn’t passing the dog behind his back by rolling away from the dog… instead, the handler is specifically asking the dog to pass behind him. This is an ideal skill for a handler with limited mobility who has a hard time with the grinding rotation of a Front Cross.

The dog drops completely out of obstacle focus in a Back Pass. And so it becomes a well suited tool for solving difficult “Pull Through” and “Backside” challenges.

The Back Pass is an ideal tool for creating a “Sling Shot” start on a course.

There’s no such thing as one size fits all in agility. There is a type of dog that will do the Back Pass without enthusiasm. And so, it becomes a tool of dubious value.

A handler Out of Position (OoP) might incur a disqualifying penalty by causing a refusal.

Execution

The handler’s body constitutes the corner of approach to the course.

The counter-side foot, on the side of the release will constitute the direction of the dismount from the Back Pass. The handler should incorporate an accelerating step into the release to focus the direction of the release.

Training the Dog

A dog can typically be taught a Back Pass in only a few days. At first it’s a matter of luring the dog behind your back. And gradually the physical cues can be extinguished until the cue is verbal only. I’ll share some video, below:

CedarComeByIntro ~

CedarComeByContinued ~

Proofing

I wanted to set up a simple exercise that would show the Back Pass as a tool for solving a Backside approach to a jump, both as a Pull-Through and as a Threadle. The sequence drawn below is run as a “Minuet” which means you can run it over and over again without stopping.

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Here’s a video I shot this very morning, Kory Proofing the Back Pass:

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Training International Agility Skills; Part 3

November 16, 2017

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

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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.

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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:

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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:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet110117B50x70.xls

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 Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Training International Agility Skills; Part 2

November 14, 2017

This continues the discussion of “International” agility skills in training and competition. We rely on the International courses played in the NDAL as a basis for training these skills and comparing our own performance with other dogs around the world.

Refer also to this discussion on International agility challenges: Masters Challenge.

Also, for the sake of reference, refer to: Art of the Natural Handler.

August 2017 NDAL 50×50 International

In this study I’m going back to an International course for which I was the “Game Master”, or course designer. I’ve always believed that a course designer will design to their own sense of a rational standard. So in an obscure way, the designer gives himself advantage. In the real world the course designer doesn’t much get to show his own solutions to the riddle. But in the NDAL it’s quite a different matter. Everybody gets to play.

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This is the course that I designed. The chief challenge is a pull-through, which asks the handler to draw the dog between obstacles to get to the next correct obstacle.

The Opening

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The first four obstacles features two “pull-through” challenges. The handling riddle on this course is clearly a matter of how to draw the dog between two inviting/wrong course tunnel entries for the performance of a jump that is set through the narrow passage between them.

On the dismount of the #1 pipe tunnel the handler must draw the dog out of the “cluster” without performance of several inviting wrong course options. And after jump #3, the handler must again draw the dog through that cluster.

Unrelenting

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The course continues in unrelenting fashion. The handler and dog are faced with two more “pull-through” challenges, differentiated only by a change of directions. But that’s what we do in agility… we work the dog both on the right and on the left.

On the approach to the #6 pipe tunnel the dog is faced with a wrong-course jump, and three wrong course pipe tunnel entries.

And, on the dismount of the #6 pipe tunnel all of those wrong course opportunities remain.

A Ripper Closing

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The closing is a bit of a ripper. The final romp begins with yet another pull-through to an extended pinwheel or speed circle all the way around the outside. And the course ends with a hard-aback turn from jump #16 to the closing #17 pipe tunnel. This last bit shouldn’t really be considered too lightly… because the efficiency of that final turn might make a difference in placement.

The Competition

I’ll begin the discussion of how the completion unfolded in the NDAL with my performance with my dog Kory. It’s worth the look to see if I’ve designed the course to my own advantage.

This is Kory, a Border Collie jumping only 16″ on this day (he usually jumps 20″). Kory finished this International course with zero faults in 33.24 seconds:

There’s no question that I relied mainly on a Back Pass to solve the Pull-Through challenges. The dog drops completely out of obstacle focus for a Back Pass, which makes every Pull-Through a “no handling” solution.

The right turn at jump #16 surely cost us a couple seconds. It seemed like a nifty idea when we walked the course. But I should have worked for a tight left turn on this course.

Kory finished in 20th place. So much for advantage.

7th Place

Representing K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma was Flicka, a Border Collie handled by Frances Scriminger. Flicka and Frances finished this course with zero faults, in a time of 29.88 seconds:

Aside from a gratuitous and broken “down stay” at the start (which, all on its own, deserves a long rambling blog about how to start a course)… Frances shows a mastery of lead hand direction of the dog. She drops her hand close to her body to draw her dog past the wrong course options; she lifts her arm when sending her dog away to work. The tight turn at jump #16 was magnificent.

3rd Place

Representing Wicked West Australians in Banjup, Western Australia was Ripley, a Border Collie handled by Nic Ford. Ripley and Nic finished this course with zero faults, in a time of 28.22 seconds:

Having made observations about Frances Scriminger’s arms… I’m nearly baffled by Nic Ford… who appears to be arm-less in her handling of Ripley. Her arms pretty much dangle akimbo except to occasionally flip up to goose her dog forward. To be sure, her footwork is always quite precise and aimed with unerring focus to the course. Nic solved the modest layered distance work on this course, trusting in a parallel path to Ripley.

Worth noting is the very effective turning pre-cue at jump #16; presented to in a backy-uppy Front Cross, a little fist pump, and an odd-sound vocalization.

The Winning Run

The winning dog was Mick, yet another Border Collie, handled by Laurie Bowen. Mick and Laurie finished with course with zero faults, in 27.08 seconds:

Laurie is an unhurried, but precise handler. The attitude of her arms seems to tell the tale. When her arm is down her dog attends her tightly; when the arm comes up Mick works out and away. And, Laurie gives a backy-uppy precue for the tight turn at jump #16, with a bit of drama and emphasis.

I’m slightly fascinated by the backward presentation of the #6 pipe tunnel. Was this a precue for turning tightly left on the dismount?

You can see all of the performances of the August 2017 50×50 below. Most performances are graced with a YouTube recording:

http://www.dogagility.org/Documents/Results/Standings080117B50x50.pdf

Invitation to Play

New clubs are always welcome to join us for play in the NDAL. Note that our courses are forever open to record your dog’s performance. You can download the August 2017 50×50 Masters scorekeeping worksheet here:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet080117a50x50.xls

This course is always open for play. Your dogs score (and with any luck, a YouTube recording) will be included with the results of this event. However, it’s too late to compete in League Play.

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

Follow us on Facebook

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Training International Agility Skills; Part_1

November 7, 2017

I’m embarking on a study, to be published as a series dedicated to training sets and competition that focus on International challenges in dog agility. The framework for this study will be the courses we run in the National Dog Agility League (NDAL).

Because we run league courses in our own training center, each league course provides a context for training. We are keen to understand the challenges posed and how we might develop and perfect the handling to successfully master those challenges.

Refer also to this discussion on International agility challenges: Masters Challenge.

September 2017 NDAL 50×50 International

It is a peculiar twist that the International League courses are based on a field that measures 50′ by 50′. While less than ideal for true International coursework, it is adequate for training. Note that all of the NDAL leagues are based on “footprint”, or the size of the working area. This league was designed specifically for a club that uses this working space.

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Our study begins with the International league competition from September, on a course Designed by Christina Wakefield.

Breakdown

Our Game Master, Christina Wakefield, did not overwhelm dog and handler with technical challenges. Instead, the design allows the dog to get up a good working speed before presenting a couple very advanced and technical handling challenges.

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The opening, #1 through #6 is reasonably uneventful. The dog starts with a wrong course option to the pipe tunnel after jump #1; and is faced with a modest wrong course option into the opposite side of that same pipe tunnel after the A-frame.

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The dismount of the pipe tunnel calls the dog into a 180º turn back to jump #7. The A-frame presents a very modest wrong course option. Moreover, the handler is presented with a riddle of sides as the dog will be entering a clock-wise three-legged pinwheel.

A more important consideration will be the efficiency of the turn. The handler needs to turn the dog neatly, and possibly pre-cue the dog to the turn.

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The intermezzo sequence #8 through #13 is largely without challenge. After jump #9 the wrong course option to the pipe tunnel is a very real trap for the unwary. Mostly in this sequence the handler will be preoccupied with getting into position to handle the wild ride that follows jump #13.

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On the dismount of the #13 pipe tunnel the handler is faced with a pull-through to a backside to jump #14. Out of the three-legged pinwheel the handler will threadle the dog from jump #16 to #17.

Solving the Course

The International NDAL league is to me a puzzle. Playing to win isn’t really in the wheel-house. But, since this my blog I humbly offer my performances to public scrutiny. That being said, I’ll follow my own efforts with the performances of the dogs and handlers who actually won the competition.

This is Kory, a Border Collie who ran this course with zero faults in a time of 33.13 seconds. Kory finished in 18th place overall:

On this course I made liberal use of the Back Pass. An important attribute of the Back Pass is that the dog drops completely out of obstacle focus, allowing the handler to define a corner of approach. I continue to study this interesting skill… without much input from my contemporaries. I don’t expect it to catch fire in the United States until it comes to us from Europe, in ten years or so.

Meat and Potatoes

This is Chase, a Sheltie handled by Lydia Hofmann, representing Agility Dream Dogs in Albion, NY. Chase and Lydia finished this course with zero faults in a time of 30.04 seconds, finishing in 6th place overall.

I offer this video mostly to demonstrate that good old fashioned “meat & potatoes” handling is often adequate to the task of solving advanced technical challenges.

It’s also worth observing that Chase beat my dog by only three seconds… which represented twelve placement slots. To be sure, speed and efficiency have everything to do with placement.

Power of Pre-Cue

This is Mick, a Border Collie handled by Laurie Bowen, representing Sit, Stay, ‘N Play in Stroudsburg, PA. Mick and Laurie finished this course with zero faults in a time of 28.42 seconds. Mick finished this course in third place.

I’m struck by the constant pre-cue signal that Laurie uses when running Mick. It’s a subtle but simple thing based on the elevation of her lead. When the lead is low it signals Mick to turn in and stay tight and when the lead is high it means to go on and stay out. The consequence is the efficiency of Mick turning to the course. Mick, while fast and keen to work, will beat a faster dog by taking the  more efficient path.

Laurie doesn’t actually give a lot of speed cue by racing her dog and “being in a hurry”.

A Winning Run

This is Ripley, a Border Collie handled by Nic Ford, representing Wicked West Australians in Banjup, Western Australia. Ripley and Nic finished this course with zero faults in 27.62 seconds, finishing in first place.

Nic runs Ripley in an unfrantic manner, but in complete attack mode. Nic is in a hurry.

At jump #4 Nic uses a Ketchker to precue the change of direction to Ripley and tighten his turn; and does so again at the intermezzo turn to the A-frame at jump #11.

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I extracted this picture from the video, so you can see the efficacy of the movement. Ripley is clearly curling into the turn as he’s coming over the bar. To be sure, the handler steals only 10ths of a second with this movement. But those 10ths make the difference between “pretty good” and the “best”.

On the landing side of jump #14 Nic does a layered/landing-side blind… which is pretty bold considering that the approach to jump #14 was a backside. This is a sequence transition worth study and practice.

Invitation to Play

New clubs are always welcome to join us for play in the NDAL. Note that our courses are forever open to record your dog’s performance. You can download the September 2017 50×50 Masters scorekeeping worksheet here:
Scoresheet090117a50x50.xls

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

Follow us on Facebook

Quoth

And Those Who Were Seen Dancing Were Thought To Be Insane By Those Who Could Not Hear the Music.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Hurricane Harvey Humane Society Initiative

September 1, 2017

I’ve been watching with particular anguish the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Houston community. Being a dog person I worry for the welfare of dogs that have been caught up in this catastrophe. And so, in the month of September the National Dog Agility league will donate ALL income to the Houston Humane Society[1].

Okay, to be real, the income for the NDAL is several hundred dollars each month. The NDAL is not an agility organization that has worried over great profits. We do agility for fun and recreation with like-minded agility people. I might have ambition to do more for dogs (and other animals) in Houston, but I’m an old man who lives on his Social Security check. So, this is what I can do.

If you’ve ever considered playing with us… we welcome new clubs and individuals that might want to play with us in September.

Overview of the NDAL

We do “league play”. League scores are made up of the top five scores for dogs in each franchise (no matter how many dogs they run in each game). If you can’t put together at least five dogs, it’s no worry. You’ll surely have fun running the courses.

Cost

Each club pays only $1 / run / dog as a recording fee.

The biggest initial expense for each club is registration for individual dogs. This costs $10. And income for dogs registered in September WILL go to the Houston Human society. You can find the dog registration form here:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRegistration.pdf

YouTube

Most of our league performances include a link to a YouTube recording. There’s actually a field in the scorekeeping worksheet for the YouTube URL. If you play with us in September we would be greatly impressed if you include a link to YouTube. Watching other players from around the world is surely half the fun. The recording will exist forever in the results for that game or course!

Leagues

At the risk of heaping a lot on you at once … We run four ongoing leagues that are based on a) The size of the working space; and b) the level of challenge.

Most of our franchise clubs compete in more than one of the leagues. A few of the teams compete in all four! Course are closely nested, making it fairly easy to transition from league-to-league as a single event.

Below I will share with you posts of our August 2017 results. Drill down a bit… and you can find the YouTube recordings of nearly every agility performance! Each of these also includes a preview of the courses we are running in September.

50×50 International

50×70 Fast & Fun

60×90 Masters

36×85 Fast & Fun

Jumping into the League

New clubs are always welcome to join us for play in the NDAL.

Follow us on Facebook

If you need ANY help participating in September, please don’t hesitate to contact the NDAL League Secretary: Bud Houston ~ Houston.bud@gmail.com.

Rules

NDAL rules for performance most closely resemble USDAA and TDAA rules. Each club is expected to supply their own judge(s) who should be expected to read and understand these simple rules for agility performance.

Click to download the Top Dog Rules and Regulations eBook:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRules3.5.pdf

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

[1] I saw a Facebook post by Mary Jo Sminkey recommending the Houston Human Society for donations. We want any money to go where it might do the most good.

Distance Trained Dog in Seven Days

August 12, 2017

Have you ever noticed the Novice dog in competition who might happily run past any number of jumps… but maybe veer inexplicably out of the handler’s control to dive into a pipe tunnel or jump into a two-on/two-off position on a contact obstacle? I’ve call this “returning to the scene of the crime!” The dog is offering performances for those obstacles where he earns a lot of reward!

This is easy to fix: Include in the dog’s foundation exercises that build obstacle focus for the ubiquitous bar jump. The dog should understand the performance unattended by the handler. By definition, this means “independent” performance.

Return to the Exploding Pinwheel

Teach the dog the performance of a pinwheel as though it were a single obstacle with multiple elements. Think of pinwheel as you might think of the weave poles. The Poles are only one obstacle. Take the same ambition with a pinwheel.

Day 1 ~ We begin with the jumps in the pinwheel pushed very close together, virtually touching in the center of the “wheel”. The handler from the beginning remains in one quadrant.

We began the training with a three-jump pinwheel. At the beginning of the exercise the wings were touching, making it impossible for the handler to step in to attend every jump. Our objective, after all, is to teach the dog to seek out the jumps without the handler being imbedded in the context of presentation or performance.

This is our young Pip… a terrier with an introduction to the exercise:

Day 2 ~ On the second day a fourth jump is added to the pinwheel with the spacing between jumps pretty much where we left off on day one. During the exercise we will “explode” the jumps modestly farther apart. Note that the handler is teaching the directional command “Go On” in this training.

Day 3 ~ On the third day the jumps are “exploded” to a greater extent. The dog’s training is constantly studying the focus of the dog… that is, the dog keeping his/her attention forward studying the work ahead. Note that the handler when not moving well (albeit intentionally)… will face each jump in turn. When the handler isn’t moving he can give focus and direction to the obstacle by facing it, looking at it, and pointing to it.

Day 4 ~ On the fourth day Pip gets a new handler. This is a nice easy test of generalization. Pip understood the exercise working with another handler. We’ll test to see if she still knows her job (or if her brain explodes) when we approach the (even bigger) pinwheel with a new handler.

Days 5/6 ~ On the fifth day we made the pinwheel modestly bigger, asking for Pip to work with the handler putting progressively more distance in the send. We did not get a video recording of Pip’s fifth day in the Exploding Pinwheel exercise.

On the sixth day the pinwheel was “exploded” to be quite a bit bigger, getting to be more like the pinwheels we see in competition. We also had the distraction of a barking dog.

Day 7 ~ On the seventh day of this protocol we’ve endeavored to try Pip on the distance challenge from our NDAL League Play course. To earn a bonus the handler is required to send the dog over a big flat pinwheel of jumps while the handler is constrained by a containment line. This is a pretty challenging bit for a nine-month-old dog.

Extrapolation

That was a lot of fun! I’m frankly pleased with Pip’s progress in this exercise. Don’t you know my entire agility career I’ve trained and handled dogs from the Herding Group. I’m sure I’ve said from time to time that I require a dog that makes me look smarter than I really am.

So I don’t know if Pip’s apparent success in the exercise means she’s an exceptional dog (in the Terrier Group)… or if it’s an absolute validation of the training method.

But I am tickled pink by her progress.

Below, I will share the NDAL league game that we trained on in Pip’s seventh day of Pinwheel training. The league is really quite fun. We have several hundred dogs in clubs around the world competing each month on four league games (based on the size of the floor, naturally). And most performances are on YouTube! It’s fun to see how handlers in faraway places (Australia and South Africa) solve the riddles posed by the games we play.

The NDAL league courses are invaluable for training and (for my part) the recreation.

NDAL 60×90 Masters

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Briefing

Power & Speed is a two-part game. The first part, POWER is untimed. Any faults earned are added to the dog’s overall score. Refusals will NOT be faulted. However, three “on & off” refusals will be deemed a Failure to Perform.

The SPEED part is timed. This game is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus.

A TimeWarp Bonus (10 points) is earned for the dog working away at jumps #7 through #9 without fault, while the handler works on the opposite side of the handler containment line (red line).

New players are always welcome in the NDAL

If you would like to join us for play in August you can download the scorekeeping worksheet here:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet080117C60x90.xls

Dogs are required to be registered with the NDAL to be eligible for play. You can download the registration form here:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/FilesForms/TopDogRegistration.pdf

You are bound to have questions about how we work. Please direct these questions to the NDAL League Secretary ~ Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com.

Like us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/TopDogAgilityPlayers/

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

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.

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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:

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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.

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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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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

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 Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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:

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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.

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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 Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.