Archive for the ‘Dog Agility Training’ Category

Snooklers :: Games of the 2019 Petit Prix

January 3, 2019

Designing a Snooklers course can be a challenge to the course designer. A Snooker course is bad enough. But in Snooklers rather than using red hurdles the designer will use distance challenge: [ergo Snooker/Gamblers, or Snooklers.]

These distance challenges should be modest in nature. A tough distance challenge might skunk half the class in USDAA’s Gamblers or in the AKC’s FAST class… and so we should NOT have three distance challenges, each of which invite the proverbial skunk.

I’ll share with you a sample design for this class. I’m assuming TDAA equipment and spacing, on a field that measures 60′ by 70′.

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What strikes me immediately about this class is that the designer and judge must explain the distance challenges in the written briefing. Clarity should not be left to the verbal briefing. I will attempt to describe the three distance challenges in this sample course:

  • Red #1/2 ~ This gamble consists of two jumps only. From the front of the ring it can be taken as 1a to 1b or as 2a to 2b.

    While this distance challenge was originally designed to be taken from the front of the ring only, I decided that design would constrain the number of possible solutions to the game. So, I added a line at the back, making this distance challenge bi-directional. From the back, the distance challenge can be taken 1b to 1a or from 2b to 2a.

  • Red #3 ~ Send the dog into the pipe tunnel from behind one of the surrounding containment lines. #3 is bi-directional.

    While the handler must be behind the containment line, the dog is not required to originate from behind that line. For example, the dog might make the approach to the tunnel from the dogwalk.  If the handler can turn the dog from the dogwalk and into the tunnel—while the handler is on the other side of a containment line—then the dog can turn neat into the tunnel and satisfy the distance challenge.

  • Red #4 ~ Send the dog from jump to tire from behind the line. This distance challenge is also bi-directional; and from the opposite direction the challenge is from tire to jump while the handler remains behind the containment line.

Other performance issues should be addressed in the briefing. For example, on this course the judge might stipulate:

  • All obstacles are bi-directional in the opening excepting #6, a combination obstacle, which must be taken as numbered.
  • All obstacles must be taken as numbered in the closing excepting #2, which is bi-directional.

The Briefing

Modeled after Snooker the written briefing for Snooklers is likely to run a couple pages of dense prose. While there are a lot of Snooker players in the world that only need a couple lines of explanation, the novice Snooker/Snooklers player might very well need the dense text.

Rather than sharing with you the mind-numbing intro to the game, I will show my old “Candy Store” briefing (adapted for this variation of the game):

Candy Store Coupon (Snooklers) Briefing

You’ve been given three coupons for free candy at a chain-store. Only one coupon can be redeemed at any store. Being a clever devil, you decide to visit a different store to redeem each coupon. The three red distance challenges on the course allow you to present the coupons for candy.

If your dog cleanly performs the distance challenge, that means the cashier accepted your coupon. You get to redeem the coupon! There are six different candies in the store, each having a different value, from 2 points to 7 points. You can get any one you want (even the same candy for each different coupon!) You are entitled only to one box of candy only. If you get more than one, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

If your dog faults the distance challenge, that means the clerk tore up your coupon, and you need to go to a different store. If you go out and get a box of candy anyway, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

After redeeming, or attempting to redeem all three coupons, you decide you love the candies and so you will go into the store and buy them all! You’ll pick them up in order, starting with #2 and finishing with #7. If in your haste you break one of the candies (fault an obstacle) your game will be over at that point (and you head to the exit).

 

Setting the Qualifying Course Time

As a general rule of thumb a little extra time should be accorded for each technical obstacle. The same rule might be applied an any distance challenge. This Snookler’s course will require a longish QCT. The course designer/judge might measure a modest strategy and base course time on that estimation.

For this game, consider something like this:

  • GI small 75 sec ~ tall 70 sec
  • GII small 70 sec ~ tall 65 sec
  • GIII small 65 sec ~ tall 60 sec

At the Petit Prix we’ll use the GIII times only, as all games and courses are judged using Superior rules for performance and rates of travel.

Qualifying, however, might be more generous to the lower levels than the requirements typically used for Snooker, mostly because of the distance challenges. Consider a schedule like this:

  • GI 31 points
  • GII 34 points
  • GIII 37 points

Designing Snooklers ~ A Found Poem

One of the biggest errors course designers make with games like this is failing to nest the game with courses that run before or after. Un-nested courses tend to add 30 minutes to an hour to the length of the competition day.

A better approach: study the adjoining standard course or game and “find” the game, with minimal equipment movement. This requires some mental gymnastics. But it’s better for the course designer to sweat and fret for an hour than to demand that all the exhibitors endure the long wait between courses that aren’t adequately nested.

The sample Snooklers course I’ve used here is based very literally on this sample TDAA Standard course:

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The course designer should resist the temptation to remove the contact obstacles to find the Snooklers or Snooker course. Hauling contact equipment in and out of the ring by definition is a time-consuming and tedious chore.

On this course we removed the weave poles, a couple jumps, and all the number cones… making the transition between classes something on the order of five minutes.

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Questions comments & impassioned speesches 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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A Quick Lesson in Fast Dog Handling

December 10, 2018

This is a JWW run taken by Laurie Moe and Cleo.

Cleo JWW

She started the run with an awesome dead-away send down a straight line of jumps into a pipe tunnel. This was right out of the homework we did for a distance seminar a few months ago.

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Laurie’s solution for #9 to #12 was to do a layered Front Cross on the landing side of jump #10. Unfortunately, Cleo didn’t “feel” the line, and curled back to the handler’s position after jump #11, surely earning a refusal at jump #12.

Indeed, Cleo ran past the true turning point for a square approach to jump #10, and somewhat spoiled the straight-line send.

Sometimes the shape of the dog’s path suggested by the set of equipment is a complete illusion. #10 to #12 looks very much like a straight line. Right? Well, that’s the illusion. Consider the next picture.

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Given the trajectory of the dog’s approach to jump #10, after the dismount of #9, the dog’s path is more logically a “Z” shape, or certainly serpentine. Rather than fighting against the true shape, you should use it to advantage.

You probably could have done the Front Cross after jump #10, as planned. To find the corners and lines of the “Z” the corner of the turn should have drawn the dog more to the left. But the evil judge as plunked a completely gratuitous dummy jump in that bit of space, surely offering a wrong course option to the dog.

So, let’s try it as “Fast Dog Handling”.

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Rather than a Front Cross the handler will keep the dog on Post from jump #9 to #11. The threat of the wrong course option at the gratuitous dummy jump remains.

But the crafty handler will allow the corner after jump #10 to be a bit shallow. And then, after jump #11 will draw the dog more to the right and cross behind the dog after that jump (a Tandem Turn). The cross should be timed and placed to set a corner that will neatly line up jumps #12 and #13.

You should practice this in your training center, so that you own it in competition.

A Name for your Next Dog

Laurie, your next dog should be named “Curly Joe”, so that when you step up to the line the announcer will say; “This is Laurie Moe and Curly Joe!”

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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.

54X70 Charitable ~ November 2018

November 11, 2018

Our mission is to donate to non-profit organizations that provide relief from disasters that arise from a changing global climate.

To that end, all income from recording fees go to charitable donation. Of special interest are organizations aiding people, domestic and farm animals, and wildlife that are affected by flooding, fires, hurricanes and rising sea levels.

You can review the Charitable league rules and stipulations here:  http://wp.me/P75niR-zD

54X70 Charitable ~ November 2018

The 54X70 Charitable League is dedicated to a variety of agility games. You can download the scorekeeping worksheet here:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet110118A54x70.xls

If you already registered with the NDAL, the League Secretary wil be happy to provide you with the scorekeeping worksheet set up with your existing roster. The 55×70 Charitable league for November 2018 features the game Jumplers Looper.

Jumplers Looper

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This is a combination of two… or maybe even three agility games.

A Looper is a numbered course or sequence that must be performed twice by the dog, without stopping.

Jumplers is a made-up word for Jumpers course with a Gamblers challenge; ergo “Jumplers”.

On this course the dog will earn 5 bonus points on each pass if handler remains in the boxed area; The dog will earn an additional 10 bonus points on each pass if the handler remains in only one side of the boxed area. [Each pass is scored independently]. Consequently 30 bonus points are possible.

The dog may earn only 5 bonus points on one pass; but the full 15 bonus points on the other; or zero in one pass, and 5 or 15 in the other. The handler may switch side between passes (changing sides in the transition from jump #10 back to jump #1) and be eligible for the 15 point bonus.

Scoring

Jumplers Looper is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus.

There is no established course time.

Historical Games and Courses

Previous 54×70 Charitable league games and courses are closed to league scores. HOWEVER, these are all open to any club or individual that would like to play. Your scores will be added to the original scores and ALL recording fees will be paid to the 54×70 charities.

54X70 Charitable ~ October 2018

The 55×70 Charitable league featured the game Beginners Quidditch. You can download the scorekeeping worksheet here:
http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet100118A54x70.xls

If you already registered with the NDAL, the League Secretary will be happy to provide you with the scorekeeping worksheet set up with your existing roster.

Beginners Quidditch

Hairy Pawter’s Quidditch is the invention of Becky Dean and Jean MacKenzie. The game was played for the first time at Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio (circa 2002). The Beginner variation is the invention of our Game Master for play in the NDAL.

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The objective of Quidditch is to perform three sequences. The black-circles begin play, and the second two in any order. The handler will attempt to earn a bonus (the Beater) after each:

  • White circles – 15 points; as numbered.
  • Black circles – 20 points; as numbered
  • Green squares – 25 points, sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional; and a wrong course shall not be faulted in this sequence.

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the table to stop time.

If a sequence is faulted you can immediately reattempt the same sequence or move to another sequence.

The Beater

Upon the successful completion of a sequence the team dog can earn 5 bonus points for the Beater (tire). A refusal on the Beater will negate the bonus.

After the Beater, the dog should attempt another sequence. Faulting the Beater does not fault the prior sequence.

The Bludgers Rule

A Bludger is a wrong-course obstacle.

  1. A Bludger performed during the performance of a sequence results in a sequence fault; (except for the green square sequence).
  2. A Bludger performed after a sequence on the way to the Beater shall fault the Beater.
  3. A Bludger shall not be faulted; 1) between the start line and the first obstacle of an individual sequence; 2) between the Beater and the first obstacle of a numbered sequence; 3) between the Beater and the table (to stop time)

The Golden Snitch

A 5-point Golden Snitch bonus is earned if the dog earns all three Beater bonuses.

Scoring

Quidditch is scored Points, then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

There is no established course time in Beginner Quidditch.

Game Master Note

We haven’t before played such a complicated game in NDAL league play. This variation represents a simplification of the more robust version that is played in the TDAA.

It’s worth noting that the simplified RULES are for beginners to the game… while the technical sequences might be somewhat advanced.

There will likely be scoring dramas between league teams as this game is introduced. So the first month of the NDAL’s Charitable 54×70 should be approached with some humor. Remember that the income is going to a good cause. And be mindful of Rule #8, which you can find in our rule book:

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

An Open Invitation for New League Franchises

New clubs are always welcome to join ongoing play. Our leagues are organized by the size of the competition space and the complexity of challenge. Contact our league secretary if you are interested in playing your favorite sport in the NDAL: Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com.

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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.

 

Your Vote Counts

November 5, 2018

Michael Moore spoke on television the other night. What he said chilled me. He said, there’s no certainty that we will have a democracy two years from now. Moore, I’ll remind you, predicted that Donald Trump would be elected, back in 2016.

So, quite a bit is at stake.

We know that if Republicans win there will be no infrastructure spending. And I don’t mean just roads and bridges… we should include the sewer systems and water systems, electrical… everything.

We know that if Republicans win affordable health care is gone. There won’t be price controls; and forget it if you have pre-existing conditions. Medicare and Medicaid will go away. Women dying from back alley abortions will be a “thing” again.

We know that if Republicans win we’ll get a continued assault on “job killing” regulations… like regulations that keep big companies from poisoning our air and water… like regulations that protect consumers.

We know that if Republicans win, they’ll work to privatize everything. “Privatize” means allowing a big company to take charge, make a huge profit, and deliver shabby results: Education, the military, Prisons, … the Veterans Administration.

We know that if Republicans win, they’ll subvert protection for a free press granted by the First Amendment.

We know that if Republicans win violent white supremacists will become ever bolder and extreme… and unchecked.

We know that if Republicans win the environment is screwed. And we will be faced with an existential crises.

Aside from a huge Democratic victory in tomorrow’s election, about the only check and balance our democracy has left to protect us is the FBI. The FBI might make a case to hold Trump accountable for his conduct. But it’s not a sure bet. Trump and the Republicans have a plan to destroy what is ultimately our last protector. And that plan will unfold after the election.

I can’t say I blame people who voted for Trump. They are for the most part honest people who want a better world for their families. But they accept Trump’s constant torrent of lies. Trump has the propaganda network (Fox) to spin those lies and so shape the “truth” accepted by his supporters.

If Dems win this election. We might be able to fix the many things that Trump has broken. If Republicans win… well, we just might not get another chance at a fair election.

Your vote counts.

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,

~ Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay

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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.

NDAL Introduces the 54×70 Charitable

September 20, 2018

This is a cross-posted blog. When I write the official blog for the NDAL I’ll take out this giddy front-matter.

I want the followers of my blog to understand how excited I am to be involved in establishing a league that raises funds for charitable donation. Last year we donated league income to hurricane Harvey relief and then along came Maria; and this year we have Florence. All of them have been terrible. And of course I worry after the dogs (and wildlife, frankly) that fall victim to these disasters; and want to support first responder organizations.

We live in wicked times and the world is paying for the consequence of global warming. For the most part I feel helpless before the awesome task of charitable giving. But, I intend to do what I am able.

Naturally I invite like-minded agility enthusiasts to get out of the egoistic titling rut, and come play for fun. Establish an NDAL league franchise. We would love to have you join us.

I commence …

*** ** ***

The National Dog Agility League is proud to present agility league play with the 54×70 Charitable.

League rules are quite simple:

  • Cost to play is $2.00 per run. $1.00 for recording fee, and $1.00 to the charitable fund.
  • The league series shall consist of three games or courses, played one each month for three months, beginning in October, 2018
  • One half of the charitable fund will go (each month) to a specified Primary Charity for the series (to be paid each month). Our first Primary Charity shall be the American Humane Team. You can visit their web-site here:

    https://www.americanhumane.org/program/animal-rescue/

  • The other half of the chartable fund will go (each month) to a charity chosen by the team that wins the league competition for that month. The only real restriction is that it must be a not-for-profit charity.
  • The Series winning team shall choose the Primary Charity for the Winter 2019 series; (Jan-Feb-Mar).
  • Dogs must be registered with the NDAL to play in the league. You can find the registration form here:

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

    $5.00 of the registration fee will go to the Primary Charity for any dog that registers for the first time playing in the Charitable league.

  • A YouTube link in the results for each performance is required for dogs earning team placement points. Team placement points are earned by the top five scoring dogs for a franchise.
  • New teams are always welcome to join us for league play. You can download a score-keeping worksheet for the October 54×70 Charitable here:

    http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/Scoresheet100118A54x70.xls

There is no franchise fee for new clubs.

 

The October 54×70 ~ Beginners Quidditch

Hairy Pawter’s Quidditch is the invention of Becky Dean and Jean MacKenzie. The game was played for the first time at Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio (circa 2002). The Beginner variation is the invention of our Game Master for play in the NDAL.

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The objective of Quidditch is to perform three sequences. The black-circles begin play, and the second two in any order. The handler will attempt to earn a bonus (the Beater) after each:

  • White circles – 15 points; as numbered.
  • Black circles – 20 points; as numbered
  • Green squares – 25 points, sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional; and a wrong course shall not be faulted in this sequence.

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the table to stop time.

If a sequence is faulted you can immediately reattempt the same sequence or move to another sequence.

The Beater

Upon the successful completion of a sequence the team dog can earn 5 bonus points for the Beater (tire). A refusal on the Beater will negate the bonus.

After the Beater, the dog should attempt another sequence. Faulting the Beater does not fault the prior sequence.

The Bludgers Rule

A Bludger is a wrong-course obstacle.

  1. A Bludger performed during the performance of a sequence results in a sequence fault; (except for the green square sequence).
  2. A Bludger performed after a sequence on the way to the Beater shall fault the Beater.
  3. A Bludger shall not be faulted; 1) between the start line and the first obstacle of an individual sequence; 2) between the Beater and the first obstacle of a numbered sequence; 3) between the Beater and the table (to stop time)

The Golden Snitch

A 5-point Golden Snitch bonus is earned if the dog earns all three Beater bonuses.

Scoring

Quidditch is scored Points, then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

There is no established course time in Beginner Quidditch.

***  *** ***

Game Master Note

We haven’t before played such a complicated game in NDAL league play. This variation represents a simplification of the more robust version that is played in the TDAA.

It’s worth noting that the simplified RULES are for beginners to the game… while the technical sequences might be somewhat advanced.

There will likely be scoring dramas between league teams as this game is introduced. So the first month of the NDAL’s Charitable 54×70 should be approached with some humor. Remember that the income is going to a good cause. And be mindful of Rule #8, which you can find in our rule book:

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

NDAL Secretary Note

The 50×50 Premier league has been abandoned as the foundation club has withdrawn from play; and the International challenges theme wasn’t very inviting to the recreational player.

The remaindering franchises that made up the 50×50 engaged in the development of this new Charitable league. And the 54×70 footprint (size of the floor) was ultimately the lowest common denominator among these clubs. Trust that it will be nearly perfect nested with the 50×70 Fast & Fun league.

The remaining leagues – 50×70 Fast & Fun, 60×90 Masters and 35×85 Fast & Fun are not charitable leagues. And play/dog will remain $1.00 for those leagues.

NDAL leagues are closely nested and based primarily on the 60×90 Masters.

 

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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 Agility Community

September 19, 2018

Today we’re preparing to host the 2018 Petit Prix, which is the national championship event of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association. This is my favorite agility competition each year, by far.

The Petit Prix is never really a huge event numbers-wise. Taken on balance it’s about the size of your average neighborhood agility trial, and certainly nowhere near the maddeningly huge national events hosted by the big agility organizations in America.

We’re past the closing date, and I have nothing to sell. But, I have something to say that has been gnawing at me for a time.

Pioneers and Champions

Participation in dog agility isn’t really growing in this country. Indeed, it is modestly shrinking just about everywhere. It’s all about money, which should be no surprise. But it’s a more complicated problem than just cost.

We are losing our champions, the pioneers who embraced this sport back in the 1980’s and 90’s. We have lost people like Ruth Van Keuren, and Zona Butler, and will soon lose Jane McManus (when she finds a buyer for her property up in South Boardman, Michigan. This is not an exhaustive list. Agility people all around the country remember the early champions of the sport that created the agility world and inspired them to train dogs and play the game.

Zona Butler’s name when I first met here was Zona Tooke. So I’ll always think of her as a heroic Hobbit, like Bilbo. She was the unstoppable force in Colorado who turned her small farm into an agility training center; spent weekends running around the state to do agility demonstrations; carved out agility events at county fairs and the state fair. She was an early advocate for the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA). The history is more colorful and complicated than that. But it’s important to remember Zona as a heroic Hobbit.

When she retired, Zona and I had a chat. She complained to me that a lot of new agility training centers had popped up around Denver. And their chief marketing strategy was to denigrate her, bad-mouth her, and so steal her students.

I reminded her of something I had read. In East of Eden Steinbeck wrote that pioneers came to Salinas Valley, California and scratched civilization into the poor land and established streets and farms, commerce and a community of families. But they were poorly remembered by those who came after and were swept aside by whores and bankers who profited from the now fruitful place.

The Complicated Market-Place

What’s really dragging down our sport is that we don’t focus on “community”. Instead, the focus is on profit. Hang out the shingle and rake in the dough seems to be the primary motivation.

Ruth Van Keuren was a marvelous champion of our sport. I co-authored a book with her back in the day, that focused on how to train dogs for our sport. But it’s very important to understand that her primary motivation was to bring children into our sport and use dog agility to teach them to be dog trainers, and dog lovers and compassionate caretakers of their canine charges. She had a huge family oriented 4H program that literally created the next generation of agility players in Minnesota.

When we lost Ruth, we also lost her vision and her motivation. So where are the young people in our sport today? Without Ruth, and moreover, without her motivation, then we are lost.

The Expense

Okay, dog agility is too expensive for the young player. And in our depressed economy we’ll define “young player” as someone into his or her 30’s.

The typically American agility player is a bit of a woos. So, trial and training must to be heated and air conditioned; we need to have turf; equipment has to be rubberized. And as we’re pretty much lost the pitch-in-and-help generation, an agility trial must have “paid” workers. This is a recipe for expense that cannot be avoided or mitigated.

I have a lot of compassion for and understanding of the agility training entrepreneur. You have lots of money invested in building , fixtures and equipment. You have bills to pay every month. And if you rent your facility… then you are trapped by inescapable recurring expenses.

What to do?

And, by the Way

Thunder Pawz is hosting an Invitational Tournament in Peoria, IL on October 20 and 21, 2018. Entries are about half the cost of any traditional agility trial. And, because the club isn’t beholding to any agility organization half of their income will go back to exhibitors in a fun sweepstakes format.

You can download the premium here:

http://www.dogagility.org/documents/Events/POTCThunderPawsPremium.pdf

The Thunder Paws sweepstakes tournament is an experiment in growing their agility community. If you have the weekend off, this might be a lot more fun that mowing the lawn.

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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.

Call To and Around-The-Clock

September 16, 2018

It has been a very busy month for me. So the homework I had intended for a seminar at In Contact next month hasn’t been coming along at a furious pace. That’s fine, I’m sure. It’s always hard to cram two years of dog training into a couple short months.

Sub-title: Dog Training 101 ~ part 3

Today I made a recording for the In Contact students… and put it on YouTube. I had to… after all, in a moment of Zen… I share the Secret of Dog Training, for the first time, ever.

The objective of this exercise is to practice equipment (especially the technical equipment) with the dog coming toward your position. I showed this exercise using the set of the floor for the NDAL 50×50 Premium course for September. And I’m not abashed to admit that I want this skill for this particular course.

Cedar Come to Training:

It strikes me as I look at the recording that my work with Cedar incorporate a variety of skills all of which have their own training objectives and steps. In addition to the “Come To” I was working on a Back Pass (which was substantially failing in this recording); a modest “Around the Clock” approach to the tire; as well as Left and Right directional.

I will share with you the “Around the Clock” training basics, below.

Around the Clock

The first rule of distance training is that the dog needs to understand the performance of the obstacle. What we have to do in the training of the dog is to ask the question… “do you know how to do this obstacle?”

In the discussion below I show the handler making the introduction of a “hoop” to the dog. In case you don’t know the hoop is an obstacle used by NADAC. I find it to be an excellent obstacle for training a very young dog because there won’t be any stress from jumping. Later we’ll transfer the same method to jumps, and to the tire.

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This is around-the-clock training. It is also a progressive sending exercise. Though clearly as we begin the send might only be a matter of inches. Because we want the dog to go forward of the handler to go through the hoop we might introduce the directional command “Go On!”

I show in the drawing clock positions #6 back through #3. These correspond with the numbers on a clock and are only intended as rough references. While sending the dog forward to go through the hoop the handler/dog trainer might move only in small incremental steps around the circumference of the clock.

One of the benefits of this training is to teach the dog to “square up” a bit for the performance of an obstacle. With hoops it isn’t a very dramatic action. By the time we introduce the tire (using the same method) squaring up will be considerably more important.

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There is a point in training that we can be pretty confident that the dog understands his job… the performance of the obstacle. In this drawing I show the handler making his start with the dog roughly 25′ from the center of the clock. Under my rules of “asking the question” I begin with my dog at side facing neatly in the direction of the hoop and take a single step, while pointing forward, telling my dog to “go on, hoop!”

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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.

 

Dog Training 101 ~ part 2

September 3, 2018

I was tickled to see that several of the seminar participants for my up & coming at In Contact had a training evening for the Back Pass. I received an email with .MOV (movie) files of these students teaching their dogs this skill. I don’t really have permission to publish them in my blog. But, a couple observations:

  • Reward the dog immediately as he comes around
  • Begin fading the hand and arm signal, reducing it to a verbal command. That is not to say that you won’t use the hand and arm signal; but you want the verbal to entice the dog immediately into handler focus.

I want to share a couple of my runs in the NDAL 50×50 Premier league in August. Mostly I want to demonstrate how often I might incorporate the back pass into a handling strategy, especially to solve “international” agility challenges.

This is Kory, who finished the course with zero faults in 42.38 seconds:

And Katniss, who finished the course with zero faults in 47.26 seconds:

Progressive Sending

New homework. One of the most important skills in agility is the ability to send the dog forward. This is lesson #1.

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Fundamental to any progressive sending exercise is that a) the dog is sent to the performance, and not dragged, b) the handler should send from a progressively greater distance; and c) each send should be slightly farther than the last (it can’t be a progressive exercise without progression).

When we engage in such training we are in “dog trainer mode”. That means the handler/trainer should be equipped with a good marker for performance (a clicker should do nicely, however a good verbal marker is just hunky dory); and a reward for the dog, whether that be a food treat or a game with a toy.

The devil is in the details.

  • A distance send really has nothing to do with standing still. Indeed, slamming on the brakes or slowing dramatically are apt to draw the dog back into handler focus and away from the target obstacle.
  • Flapping one’s arm when sending is a small detail that is apt to draw the dog back into handler focus, and away from the target obstacle.
  • The handler should give the target obstacle all of his focus when sending the dog. That means the handler looks at it, points at it, and moves towards it. Note that the pointing is more significant by the handler’s feet… than the arm and hands. The dog pays close attention to the direction the handler’s feet are facing/pointing.

Make your sends from as far away as you are comfortable. Progress only modestly to assure that the dog is able to succeed. Be mindful that failing to mark the performance or being late in rewarding the dog for the performance will confuse your dogs’ understanding of the object lesson.

 “To understanding the importance of timing of the reward all you have to do is count: one-thousand one, one-thousand too … late!”.

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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.

Dog Training 101 Seminar Homework

August 25, 2018

I’m doing a simple but fun seminar for In Contact Dog Training in Springfield, Illinois, October 18th and 19th. In this past couple years I’ve experimented with giving homework assignments in advance to give participants an opportunity to hit the ground running.

Okay, Dog Training 101 doesn’t sound very agility-like. But it would be intimidating to call this something grandiose like Teaching Independent Performance for Amazing Distance Handling. So, Dog Training 101 it is.

We want to get away from the proposition that agility is a sport for young long-legged kids who Velcro the dog to their butts and race through a numbered sequence scraping the dog off on obstacles as they go. I suppose most agility organizations favor exactly that narrow vision of the game.

Let us instead explore the possibility that we are in a contest of training our special canine friend. The dog is a clever and biddable. Let’s have a little fun with is.

Our training homework begins here:

The Back Pass

I want to teach my dog to come around my body. This is a “no handling” movement. It is, instead, a performance.

For this, I would like a command that asks the dog to circle me clockwise, and another that asks the dog to circle me counter-clockwise. If you have any experience with competitive obedience you’ll recognize that the clockwise Back Pass is a method used by some handlers to have the dog finish on heel-side.

But we’re doing agility, so we don’t want the dog to finish with a sit, but finish by exploding away from us in a new direction. And, in agility, we aim to be ambidextrous. So we want Back Pass to left and Back Pass to right.

Simple! Right?

I will share with you some YouTube recordings of me teaching my dog Cedar the Back Pass. This is your homework.

Working in the basement with Cedar, intro to the Back Pass.

You can see in this recording that the I have a distinctive hand signal to ask Cedar to come around me. Ultimately, I want to fade the hand signal land rely on verbal only.

I even turn my body a bit to pass her behind me. Obviously, I want that to go away as well.

This is a slightly more advanced workout that incorporates the Back Pass. In this training I begin to release her to performance of another agility obstacle out of the Back Pass.

** ** **

Okay, that’s enough homework for how. It might take two or three days to team your dog this simple skill. Later, we will discuss how the Back Pass is an important (but very rare) skill for dog agility.

More tomorrow or the next.

Closing Thoughts

My mind is like my internet browser. 19 tabs open, 3 of them are frozen and I have no idea where the music is coming from.

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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.

Tweeterverse

August 19, 2018

This is a different kind of blog post, I think. I am today learning to use Twitter and I will share with you almost as stream of conscious kind of a step-by-step of my morning adventures. As I go I’ll attempt to understand # (hashtags) and @ (mentions).

Also, I’ll try to understand relationships between Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and my blogging on WordPress. It’s more complicated than it sounds.

I Begin

Trumph as Tweety Bird

I tawt I taw a Demaquat!

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I DID! I DID taw a Demaquat!!

First try

Let’s agree that Twitter is a stupid means of communication that defies reasonability and fosters insanity. The 140-character limitation defies any meaningful development of an idea. Everything I know about modern rhetoric is out the window. Baby with the bathwater, as it were.

#LearningTwitter

-17

So the Twitter entry screen will mark over-limit characters in red, and tell you how many characters if you need a number. I’ll rewrite the paragraph and get rid of the baby, maybe.

Edited text

Let’s agree that Twitter is a stupid means of communication that defies reasonability. The 140-character limitation defies any meaningful development of an idea. Everything I know about modern rhetoric is out the window. Baby with the bathwater, as it were.

#LearningTwitter

Something new

Most Saturdays I go down to the Dems office on Putnam street and spend an hour or so making phone calls to recruit volunteers who might do door-to-door canvassing or make phone calls for the Dems. I had a chat with Jake the Coordinator (from Athens) and suggested that we are using 1970’s technology in a nearly 2020 world.

#LearningTwitter

Edited

On Saturdays I go to the Dems office & spend an hour making phone calls to recruit volunteers to do canvassing or phone calls for the Dems. I chatted with Jake the Coordinator (from Athens) and suggested that we are using 1970’s technology in a nearly 2020 world. #LearningTwitter

Nightmares

Yeah, I woke up last night having a bad dream about things. The Twitter thing has been bugging me. Writing has structure and development. You start with a premise; you develop and argue for it; and you summarize. That’s nearly impossible to do in 140-chars. #LearningTwitter

[I got it under 140-characters on the first try.]

Fostering Insanity

I removed the expression “fostering insanity” from my gut impression of Twitter above. In 140-chars you can’t have James Joyce… an amazing fabulous writer. You get @realDonaldTrump a shallow fool instead. Am I right Judith? @larson78207 #Learning Twitter

The stupid thing, I can’t resist writing as though I’m constructing a paper with continuity. I said that I “removed the expression… from above.” In twitter there is no above. There is no structure. And I scarcely yet understand the continuity and connectivity.

A Bone to Pick with Chuck Todd

Just before the last election Chuck Todd @MeetThePress said Democrats believe that the election of president will have dire and terrible consequences if it goes wrong. Chuck was dismissive and condescending, explaining that this hysteria has gone on since the election of Lincoln. #LearningTwitter #MTP

Trying Again

Before the last election Chuck Todd @MeetThePress said Democrats believe the election will have dire and terrible consequences if it goes wrong. Chuck was dismissive and condescending, explaining that this hysteria has gone on since the election of Lincoln. #LearningTwitter #MTP

And a follow-up

Chuck Todd @MeetThePress you should have to admit that if Lincoln had not won his election, there would have been no 13th Amendment; and slavery would have likely spread through South and Central Americas; and very likely be a fact of life today. #LearningTwitter #MTP

Dog Training on YouTube

Pip & Cedar get their breakfast doing “Named Obstacle” training in the basement. YouTube belongs to the social media mix. I trying to discover how it does mix. #2MinuteDogTrainer #LearningTwitter

Notation

When adding a YouTube link in Twitter, you get neither a picture link to the video or a link of any kind. If someone wants to watch the YouTube recording, they’ll have to copy the link text and paste it into the browser. Twitter allows uploading a video, but supports only MP4 format. It’s a bit awkward and unaccommodating.

Enough for Now

Let’s call that a workout. I have other, more important work to do and will return to my Twitter self-tutorial on the morrow.

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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.