Archive for the ‘Dog Rescue’ Category

Columbus Weekend

April 12, 2013

I’ve gone up amongst the Yankees for a weekend of play in the USDAA. Pulled into Columbus in the afternoon rush hour and found my way to the La Quinta while commuters swarmed about like angry hornets.

I suppose there are several good stories I’ve failed to tell as I’ve neglected my BLOG. I killed the rooster, and put the raft into my pond; and Marsha and I joined a community theatre group. No we’re not going to act. We’re going to be active. So far about our only dealings with the group was to spend a day helping a handful of others clean up a back-stage area that apparently hasn’t been cleaned up since the 1930’s.

We’ve got yet another rescue BC pup. Her name is Prem. And as you might guess she’s smart enough, being a Border Collie and all. Within the first week I had her I taught her to send away from me over a jump at a distance of about 30 feet. And I’ve taught her to turn “Right”. On the downside, she showed early a remarkable fear of the training teeter. So for several days now I’ve taken a page out of the two-minute dog trainer and have given her meals in the proximity of said training teeter. In the first lesson all she had to do was put a foot on the ramp to get a handful of food. Now, after three days, the criterion has escalated to putting both feet on the up end and driving it to the ground. She’s still not a huge fan of the teeter; but her association is gradually changing to something positive, given that it earns her meals.

For the past couple of weeks Marsha has been building me “snarky” courses go help me get back in a handler’s groove, mostly in preparation for the weekend now at hand. She’s put up some real ugly stuff, almost bad enough to make a USDAA Masters handler cry and shout. I wasn’t allowed to preview or practice any little part of these courses. I’d walk them as I would at a trial… and then run them. And in running we observed a no melt-down rule. If something went wobbly I had to pick myself up and go on, just like real life. And Kory had to jump 26.

I’ve been for several months rebuilding Kory’s contact performance. I think I like where we are at. But this weekend will be the acid test. My goal is to keep it all meat and potatoes… do my job, work hard, and always be aware that Kory needs basic training reinforcement, when in the ring.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

League Game


The league game this week was designed by Brenda Gilday. I’m really impressed with the quality of her design work. The challenge and flow she set on this course is spot on.

They ran this course at Kuliga in league this past week; and we ran it here at Country Dream. The best performance in our league was put in by Beth Murray with her girl Koda. They looked really good.

I’ll be posting it (this evening I hope) as a Top Dog challenge course. Maybe we can entice Katie and Dave to come out to play!


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.

A Fan for Collapsed Tunnel Training

August 6, 2012

We have traditionally approached teaching a novice dog the Collapsed Tunnel as a two person operation. One person holds the dog on leash while the other person (usually the dog’s person/handler) goes to the other side, lifts open the fabric and calls the dog through. The dog will come to the end of the leash if he tries to go around, left or right; but the leash will release if he offers to move through the tunnel. It’s an effective method, to be sure.

But what if… you are working alone? It is counter-intuitive to the dog to go into the tunnel when he can plainly see that it is closed at just the other end.

So what we’re going to do here is bring into the picture a big barn fan. Got the picture?

Now when you make the presentation of the collapsed tunnel it looks to the dog more like a pipe tunnel. He can see daylight on the other side. It works better if you turn the fan on.

The learning curve for this obstacle is considerably shortened.

Over time, you should rotate the fan in one direction or the other to reduce the amount of air being pushed through the fabric, so that it settles down lower and lower as the dog works.

In about 10 minutes we have a dog who will readily push through the fabric of the collapsed tunnel. We had a little help from a handful of juicy beef treats!

I apologize for the generally poor quality of the pictures. These  were taken with a smart phone. Our little rescue Chihuahua/something Haymitch was the canine talent in this production.


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.

Key Challenges in Course Design

April 23, 2011

I try to design agility courses based on a single central challenge. Keep it simple. It’s not necessary to challenge the dog and handler at and between every obstacle. That’s the road to oppression.

I had a whimsical but challenging kind of jumping sequence in my last web log; and so I would like to build a full course around it.

The key challenge could be placed anywhere on the course. In this case I decided to begin the course with the challenge sequence. I’m interested in the lead-out in this sequence. It’s not enough to leave the dog. That part’s easy. The handler must also have fruitful plan and execution.

I continued (scribbled) the line from the first eight hurdles. The scribbled line is nothing fancy; but you’ll note that it dips back in to the starting sequence for one last little test of the challenge.

The next thing to do is throw out some obstacles to give the scribbled dog’s path something to cling to. This allows the designer to see a glimmer of the overall course. The big loop might get an argument out of a course reviewer for being too simple. I’m tempted for a moment to twist the loop as you might give a twist to pretzel dough.

The finished product involves a bit of adjustment of the distances between obstacles. I also brought in spread hurdles (since my design ambition is a USDAA Jumpers course).

The expanded sequencing seems inconsequential, drawing in nearly half the course in a grand clock-wise turning loop. But it truly gives a good look at two new options; the first in the turn from #15 to #16; and the second in the turn from jump #18 to #19. And the consequence of the big wheel is that it will have the dog flying at full speed when facing these options.


Last week Marsha was away on a North Carolina vacation with family. I kept myself occupied with Spring time kinds of chores. After a winter that went on just a bit too long I’m delighted to get outside doing something. I mostly occupied myself with putting in the garden. I got it tilled up nicely; and I’ve put in potatoes, onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers and broccoli.

I haven’t written to my blog in quite awhile. We put our old boy Ringer down last week. And I just didn’t feel like writing. Marsha wrote about him a bit in her web log: I reckon I’d like to say something about him. He was fond of fruit. He was always inappropriate. And I loved the old boy.

We’re down to four dogs in our household. Ringer was the last of our rescues. He lived a good life.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Which cast member in the movie Independence Day once had a minor role in one of Charles Bronson’s Death Wish movies?


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

The Split Group

July 3, 2010

This week in our Sunday mini-clinic we’re going to do some split group work. Mostly I’m interested in getting people out of the mode where they sit around too much. We’ll split them up for about two hours and they’ll get a good enough workout that they’ll be happy when the tempo slows down just a bit.

A lot of my exercises for class these days are things I’m working on with my boy Kory. I reckon that if I have good training habit and work on important foundation skills  for  my dog… there’s no good  reason I shouldn’t be providing those things  as curriculum to my students.  Here’s a bit intended to practice a Get Out.

I drew a line here mostly to demonstrate that I won’t be taking a terribly intrusive step as I give the Get Out command. Like any good distance skill I’m using this to layer to the landing side of jump #5 to manage a Front Cross with lots of real estate to get it done. Without the directional I’d likely be OOP for the Cross and the wrong-course pipe tunnel will come to much into focus.

I began the training in the backyard with hoops; (this NADAC obstacle is a terrific obstacle for training basic on-the-flat skills). What I do is nothing more complicated than rewarding my dog with a tug on a toy. He quickly figures out the rules of the game if I’m disciplined in the simple criteria of the performance.

I have to avoid the smart-aleck dog problem in this training. So fairly soon I’ll mix the training with options. In the drawing above the #3a is the Get Out. The number #3b is Go On! I might also (soon) add a path bending towards the handler to practice a turn towards me command (Come!).

After doing the simple building-block exercises you’ll note that it’s a simple matter to superimpose the table and a couple jumps to test the skills with a bit more flow and inertia. It’s not much of a change. Kory has plenty of inertia jumps or no jumps.


We lost another dog a few days ago. This probably accounts for me not writing in my blog. Six dogs in two years have left us. We knew years ago that this would be a tough decade as we had so many dogs of near the same age. Wizard’s passing increases a sense of grief for my lost friends. He apparently had a stroke and was unable to move the back-half of his body. We pretty much knew when we found him in the morning that he was gone.

Wizard might have been a good agility dog. However, his knees weren’t so good as he had TPLO surgery on both. And these surgeries were probably failing over the past couple of years as he became somewhat arthritic. And so he was just our buddy; the director of security (keeping that damned UPS man out of the house); and the best ratter that I’ve ever seen. He subscribed to the crunch and toss method of ratting.

Our boy Wizard, an Australian Shepherd, was a rescue. He was found loose and abandoned at three months of age, so we guess. I can’t help but have wondered over the years what kind of bad person would abandon a three-month-old dog. But he had a good life with us. He was content and dearly loved.

My Bad

Okay, I think the other day I said I ran a Pug FEO at the trial I judged out in Denver. It was a Boston Terrier. My brain’s getting a little fuzzy. Here’s a link to a video of the run if you’re interested.

I suppose I should put it out on YouTube so that the filesize is more constrained.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Please provide the gerund-phrase that describes a precursor act to a challenge to duel. This has to do with the skin of a young goat and an item of apparel.

First correct answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the June Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – June 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special05” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.


January 10, 2009

On the home front, Marsha has been getting involved to a greater extent with the shelter at the Marietta Humane Society. She has become their volunteer coordinator and has created a new team called S.M.A.R.T. (Shelter Matchmaker And Rehab Training). She set herself up with her very own web log yesterday, and tells the story here:

Marsha also wrote up a series of training protocols which she has published under the 2‑Minute Dog Trainer which as a package are intended for the local Shelter and includes seven basic training brochures, intended to enhance the success with integrating the newly adopted shelter dog into a new home.

The whole idea is to help people who adopt shelter dogs to train them in easy steps and make it more likely that they’ll keep the dog.

Each brochure focuses on powerful training methods for teaching important skills to a new dog:

1. choosing the right shelter dog

2. teaching new name and recall

3. housetraining

4. managing destructive behavior

5. greeting friendly strangers

6. walking on a leash

7. calming behaviors for your home

By the way, this 2-Minute Dog Trainer Shelter package is inexpensive and available on our web store. Consider donating it to your local shelter. And, if you really want to do them a favor, get a bunch of copies of each printed up so they are ready to give away to adopters.

Follow the link below to find our web store.

How Cows Handle Horses

or… what dog handlers could learn from cows.


The following was written by Barbara Ray a student, former instructor, and contemporary of mine. Barbara is an advocate for wild and domesticated animals and a true expert in the custodianship of both. I’ve always been impressed that such a knowledgeable person as she is drawn to my theories and teaching of Natural Movement.

How Cows Handle Horses

or…what dog handlers could learn from cows.

Even a cow holds the secret to getting a horse to move, but that is a bit wasted on the cow, who only wants to get back to her herd, and could care less that she possesses the Holy Grail of handling skills: by moving herself a certain way and “painting the horse’s path” as you would say, if you were coaching riders of cutting horses!

Movement is the most under-rated tool in a trainers toolbox in pretty much all of animal training, whether dogs or even a wild animal. (If your nervous bontebok is heading to the left and you need him to turn, a front cross will turn the animal to you if he can see the movement. Turning while he has gone behind a couple trees and has not come out the other side yet will not work!)

The cows don’t know it in the sense of a competition, but they control how a cutting horse moves, when he moves, and which direction he moves. Cows move naturally to get from point A to B, and horses naturally understand their movement and move accordingly. You cannot teach a cutter to cut, you have to let the cows move and you have to let the horse respond. So start the young horse on good cows who will move! Horse-savvy cows will often not move their feet much; they take the approach that they should stand in the middle and let that crazy horse do all the maneuvers around him -usually to no avail. Of course, the horse has no “direction” and his movement (for cutting) is not very good.)

Maybe if we all pretended we were cows, and our dogs were the horses, we could see immediately how effective is our movement, without ever training the dog how he should respond to our moving. Or, better yet, what if we just moved ad watched our dogs move! Haha!

Dogs watch us because they live with us. Wild animals watch us because they survive by paying attention to details around them. And cutting horses watch cows. They all know a lot about how we move, and we can communicate most of what we want them to know, and even entirely create their behavior (path) with it. So us humans need all the movement training we can get, from those who do understand it, meaning, have the ability to coach the handler to allow animals toward behavior with our movement which they already naturally understand. And for those who have never watched a cutting horse, the cow, in attempts to return to the herd, essentially does a Front Cross and the horse turns in toward the cow and changes lead hooves, so to speak! He may do a Post Turn and the horse will wrap around him. He may turn and run and the horse will run a parallel path whether at two feet or twenty. And cows are great at RFP’s, because they think this is going to really trick the horse, but all it accomplishes is resetting the horse’s line. Duh.

Note: The bontebok is an endangered African antelope, now found only on preserves in the Cape. A conservation worker on the preserve uses front crosses to turn them for photo ops for tourists by walking a path parallel to them, then crossing, which turns the antelope toward the visitors!

Barbara and The Symphony of Hounds

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at