Archive for the ‘TDAP’ Category

A Fox in the Henhouse

June 12, 2014

Yesterday morning I went out and found one of my Buff Orpington hens very dead and eviscerated laying in the middle of the fenced chicken pen. This is a 6′ chain link. The fox had to jump over the fence to get in and jump out again.

The sally port for the chickens is an out-of-service doggie door. My enhanced security measure means I have to slide shut the door every night. Not much more than that I can do.

I’m pretty sure I could catch the fox. And I might do that. I’d like to drive him like 100 miles away and dump him. More likely it’s the momma fox and her kits would starve. Oh well. All this would take is a gate trap with a pressure plate. I’d put it right inside of the sally port and the fox would slyly blunder into it.

I saw him last year you know, when he killed my last New Jersey Giant. A bird we called “Chip”. I walked down into the woods behind the house and he sat in a shady bit under a tree. We regarded each for a minute. And then he ran off. He was a beautiful red thing; and evil as a Republican.

Lesson Plan

I’ve begun a project for lesson plans. I’m going back to the JFF Agility Notebook to rerun lesson plans. The very first one I ever published was published in May of 2000. I’ll share the courses that I published below, but spare you the lesson plan (about another dozen pages of gritty step-by-step)

~ Way Back

Week One – Colors

Red (Beginners) Course

Blue (Intermediate) Course

Green (Advanced) Course


This course will be numbered only for the Red, Beginners course. Intermediate and Advanced handlers must walk the course using the course maps found below.

Each team must run at each of the three courses at least once. One score for each course (color) must be used to derive the team’s League score. This will require some collaboration and decision making between team-members. Each course will be judged under JFF rules.

Marking your JFF Dance Cards: No faults allowed for a qualifying score. The red course will qualify for Beginners Agile Dog. The blue course will qualify for Intermediate Agile Dog. The Green course will qualify for Superior Agile Dog.

Good luck to everybody!

~ Return to Present

For most of the ebooks that I’ve published the past five or six years I’ve included in the document “hidden code” for CRCD. I didn’t do that in the early days of The Just for Fun Agility Notebook. The problem is, of course, that I wanted to give it a mild edit… because my brain has changed a bit over the years. And yeah, let’s face it, back in the day I was a Sheltie guy and I wasn’t much daunted by short transitional distances between obstacles. But today I run a big old long legged Border Collie and those short distances make me more than nervous. So, if you take the advanced course I published above, edit it for a more rational universe, then you’ll have the course that I set up for my Wednesday class, below:


We used “break-down” format for the lesson plan. That means you break the course down into challenge elements, and obsess over the handling possibilities. Then, if there’s enough time, you run the course again. I suppose I’m going to have to republish JFF #1 one of these days, with the updated/edited maps and lesson plans.

Looking Back

What strikes me about the first issue of The Just For Fun Agility Notebook… it was the early days of league play at Dogwood. In retrospect I’m sorry that we didn’t retain our dogs’ scores from that league. It would be fun to run dogs I have today and compare their scores with dogs that are long gone now (but not forgotten).

With that in mind, one of the design features of Top Dog in which I’ve been very interested is the capacity to run a course at one point in a dog’s training and career, and maybe run that same course five years later to compare performances.

The Top Dog concept remains a burning ember. Here’s a bit I wrote tonight:


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.

The Show

April 19, 2014

I spent most of the winter, somewhat casually mind you, putting together the human elements to make an Agility television show. Okay, I’m just old enough that I want to call it a television show. In fact, realistically it’s going to be an internet-based recording. But, it’s going to be agility.

The idea is to put together something kind of schmaltzy and reality show-like. Frankly if it were another Animal Planet talking heads look at the sport, it would be drop dead boring. What I’ve wanted to capture is the human part of the game at its gritty best and worst. We want to be entertained!

Anyhow, I’m thinking that I have most of the elements in place. Vendors are easy to find. I don’t want vendors. I want partners. It’s really hard putting together a core group of risk-takers. I’m beginning to think that we aren’t exactly a generation of risk-takers.


Initially we will schedule a six-week run in a top ten player format. The Show will feature a single course or agility game. The five top players will go on to the next week; and the bottom five might drop off and be replaced by others waiting (and competing) in the wings. The objective is to stay on The Show by holding together in the competition.

We’ll interview each of the players before and after the competition.


The course or game that we play will be published a week before the airing of The Show. Anyone and everyone will be invited to play along and submit their results. We have a real opportunity here to have a shared community experience among players from around the world. This invitational will have its own rules and will include qualifying and titling from the ongoing competition.


What we mostly want here is to have a bit of fun with our sport. If it’s not fun, why even bother? At the same time, serendipitously, we have a real opportunity to launch an amazingly inexpensive variation on the agility game… something just about anybody can afford. And that too, is worth the effort.


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.


February 1, 2014

I’ll share with you a snippet of the work we did in today’s workshop. I borrowed a central sequence from “The Letter W”, from Nancy Gyes Alphabet drills and wrapped around it the tunnel/contact discrimination work I’ve been wanting to do.

At any rate, my students got a good workout both with the weave poles and the tunnel discrimination.





Top Dog

I’ve spent the winter building initiative on a new direction for Top Dog. What I really want to do is produce a weekly dog agility digital video program. Being an old timer I keep wanting to call it a “television” program. But to be sure it’ll be web-based. We’re building a team of owners and directors for the initiative. I’ll explain more in the coming days. Of course, I haven’t finished with the course design topic. That just means I have plenty to write about.

Blog934 – (Seven days in a row! Now it looks like a pattern.)

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.

Pinball Jumpers

August 28, 2013

I think I’ve invented a new game. And I’m calling it “Pinball Jumpers”. The game is directly owed to two basic facts… One, I’ve got the dogwalk in the lower field and don’t feel like schlepping it off nor, for that matter, do I feel like dragging other contact equipment down to the field. Two, this game will allow me to practice and proof my contact training protocol in the context of a game. I suppose I should also thirdly mention that Marsha has mowed the lower field (while I’ve been out of town) and may want to be rewarded for the chore by having some sequence work set up so she can play with her dog (Phoenix).

The “pinball plunger” is represented by the two red numbered obstacles. This part of the course is un-timed, but faults from this un-timed beginning will be added to the dog’s overall score. It’s a Time, Plus Faults game.

The contact training protocol to which I referred above is a simple matter that I expect my dog to stay in a finish position on a contact obstacle until he gets a verbal release from me. I suppose I should design a half dozen or so training sequences using this opening so that I can give it a good work-out.


This entire course is about “cluster” work. A cluster is a multi-sided box or arrangement of obstacles. A dog enters the cluster on a side, and has multiple dismount options from it. In this course, if you do a bit of counting, the dog’s path passes through 11 cluster challenges. Amazing!

I’m sorry I have to drag out a big important-sounding scientific term… but the word for the day is “discombobulation.” One of the hardest things about cluster work is losing one’s bearings or GPS and in clumsy fashion sending the dog out of the cluster in the wrong direction. On this course, owing to the stereo quality of the passages through the clusters the likelihood of a discombobulated handler is heightened to a significant extent.

This course is has the intentional design element that it will not favor the young handler who can out-run his dog. A barely ambulatory handler with good directional skills should probably be able to direct his dog from the 5 jump cluster after solving the opening, through jump #4.


Because it was hot as hell outside with humidity to match, our Tuesday evening class featured this set of obstacles. You’ll note that this set also features two adjoining clusters.


Pinball Jumpers is surely a variation of Power and Speed; and bears a striking resemblance to Louganis as well. I’ll have it in the growing draft of The Book of Agility Games within the week. I’ve struggled over time with the differentiation between primary game and variation. When does a variation become a game of its own and not a footnote of the primary game? A good example is the relationship between Jumpers and Jumpers With Weaves. I actually have an answer to this question so it isn’t completely rhetorical.

I’ll put this game up as a Top Dog game (Secretary’s Pick) within the next few days.

I’ve just come back from yet another TDAA Judges’ Clinic, way up in Knife River, MN. I’ve done a series of these now, and I’m completely exhausted by the work. We have focused to a large extent on the quality of our judging corps and the principles of course design. It is a work in progress.

This weekend Marsha and I are heading up to attend the 2013 OCTA competition of community theater, in Dayton, Ohio. Imagine that! We’re doing something that isn’t doggie related!


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.

Call of the Wild

August 14, 2013

Clearly the USDAA Masters Challenge class is a beckoning call to a class of exhibitor owning canny skill at the sport and a playful competitive nature. I’m going to spend a bit of time working through the Course Design Requirements published by the USDAA. These requirements will drive the design of the courses and will suggest how enthusiasts of the class approach training and practice.

You can find a comprehensive discussion of course design requirements for the Masters Challenge classes on the USDAA website in the Forms & Documents Library; specifically refer the “Judges’ Briefing”  Volume 1; so far with three parts published including an amazing exploration of course design by Janet Gauntt.

There’s a bit of new terminology that we all need to wrap our minds around: closed approach, backside approach, push-pull through, n-patterns, extended spacing, double performance, combination obstacles, the five-sided crossing pattern, and compound challenges. There’s more. But this is a good place to begin.

And wrap your mind around this one, it’s now any anything goes approach to course design.

For the next several days I expect to explore some of the challenges which are defined in the course design requirements by the USDAA for the Masters Challenge classes. I claim no particular expertise. I’m approaching this as a student of the game, endeavoring to understand the craft of course design as applied to this special and interesting class of competition.

Presented in no particular order


If you’ve followed my blog you know that I’m especially interested in a thing I’ve called the en passant, which is basically a push/pull-through on a curve. The transition from the collapsed tunnel at #9 to the weave poles satisfies this definition. In the performance of this movement the handler is faced with keeping the dog off of no fewer than three wrong course options.

This movement also features an extended spacing transition from #8 to the weave poles at #9. So I guess I should get over thinking that I invented it, since it’s in the list of challenges published by the USDAA.


By moving the #7 to the backside of the jump this sequence now presents compound challenges. The blind/managed approach to jump #7 is defined by the USDAA as a backside approach. I expect I’ll just call it that, from now on. Because of the backside approach, the transition to jump #8 is now a threadle; which by definition is a pull/push-through. (Note: the threadle is by itself a compound challenge, as the pull/push-through is followed by a closed approach to an obstacle in close vicinity.)


Had I really wanted to be wicked in this already evil design, I might have made the collapsed tunnel and weave poles a combination obstacle.

As a handler/competitor there is something you must really understand about the combination obstacle. If the dog earns a refusal on the second element of the combination, the handler is required to return the dog to the first element before continuing on. Oh I admit this is very evil and probably something I would not do in this particular sequence. I just wanted to give you a thrill.

I will resume the discussion tomorrow.

Top Dog Secretary’s Choice


This is the game we’re playing in league this week. We’d be proud and pleased if you’d play with us. You can download a scoresheet here: Numbered Course.


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

Class Plan

July 16, 2013

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

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

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


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

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

Meanwhile back at the ranch

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

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

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


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


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

Crazy Calendar

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

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

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

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

Aug  3 – 4, 2013  Trial  T13016
Rocky Mountain Agility

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

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


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

Agility Organizations

June 5, 2013

Today, don’t you know, Dog Agility Action Bloggers has challenged the bloggers in our sport with the topic “Improving Agility Organizations”. That’s pretty close to home. I’m involved in the management of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association and have slowly been working at the beginnings of Top Dog Agility Players (a low key recreational venue).

Okay, I’ve just come back from a judging clinic in Salt Lake City for the TDAA. So I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that developing the quality of the judging corps is paramount to improving any agility organization. Running a close second is the education of course designers.

I’ll look forward to perusing blog posts on this subject. I believe that any organization should be mindful of both perception and attitude of the enthusiasts who support them (and even those who enthusiastically damn them). It’s just good business. If you’d like to peruse as well, you can find all of the posts on this topic here: Improving Agility Organizations.

Since you are here, I’ll say a word about Top Dog. Believe it or not, I’ve been working at starting this organization for something like 15 years. Clearly I’m not in enough of a hurry. Dog Agility is for everybody. It should be as inexpensive and natural as a pick-up game of baseball in the corner lot. So here’s an agility organization that doesn’t charge anything to play… no memberships, no applications, no registrations. Play the game, and send in your results. Oh my! It’s pretty crazy right? I’m working hard at finding the right people to be our Directors; and clubs who want to play.

Think of Top Dog as an “Open System”. The model will ultimately be defined by those who play. If you want to look at the basic model, visit our web page at: Top Dog.

No Joy in Mudville

At the risk of sounding slightly retarded I’ve only just realized that for the purpose of obtaining an exhibitor’s course map I’ve not bothered to embrace the new technology and, as a consequence, have kept my life unnecessarily complicated. You see, I have a phone in my pocket that is also a camera. Don’t you know I grab these little pieces of paper at the trial site, and I obsess on them while I’m there (because they are my course maps and my duty is to obsess over them); and then I take them home and sometimes, if the course is wicked or very interesting I will ponderously recreate the course in the Clean Run Course Designer so that I can slap it up on my Blog and talk about it.

But like I said, I have a phone in my pocket that is also a camera. This means that I didn’t even really have to pick up the piece of paper at all. I might have just leaned over it and taken the quick snap; and then I would have the course for the cross purposes of obsession, and blogging.

I know there’s some youngster who might read this and have a good smirk at my “slow on the uptake” grasp of today’s technology. In my day I was a mimeograph operator and an AB Dick operator. Hell, I even worked with a guy who threw hot lead for newspaper copy. That was cutting edge technology, don’t you know, back in the day. Okay… I’m getting off-track here (and slightly defensive about my age and technical abilities).

Last Weekend

I’ve been in Salt Lake City for a TDAA Judges’ Clinic over the weekend; having just returned from an AKC trial at Queen City in Cincinnati the weekend before that.

Kory was good in Queen City. I had a blast every time onto the field; though every run we were haunted by one small error; usually a dropped bar, but once a wrong course. I’m liking our teamwork right now because we’re solving some very technical courses, and usually while working quite a distance apart. Compared to where we were this time last year I’m happy.

Here are a couple courses from the weekend, complete with MOV files taken by my friend Erica (presumably moved to YouTube when I get home because while you can count on a microwave oven in the lobby of a La Quinta, you can’t really count on working WiFi):

Sunday JWW



Oh My

I just realized that the video I have is not matched to the course map. I’ll share both with you but you need to know what one has little to do with the other. First I’ll show you the video of the Monday Jumpers run: Monday Jumpers. Note that the Sunday jumpers started with a three jump serpentine… the Monday Jumpers started with a four jump serpentine. Oh my.

Here’s the course map I wanted to share with you:


The bit I wanted to talk about here is at the back-left of the course. You’ll note yet another serpentine, with the dog destined for a wrong course approach to the u-shaped pipe tunnel. You know, I did a couple “back passes” here that were the best exhibition of those movements I’ve ever accomplished; and I was really too far from any side of the ring from which a good video could be taken and far too close to the judge who had absolutely no idea what she was seeing. A shame that.


From the dogwalk I went him into the serpentine which I conducted with simple Right & Left instructions (all verbal). I stepped into position as he was coming over the third jump and told him “Come By”… and he wrapped neatly around me for the proper approach to the tunnel.


While he was in the tunnel I moved to a new position so that as he came out I gave him a command to “Switch” (come around my body in a counter-clockwise direction). I used this to line up the jump to the weave poles. As it turns out, in the running of the class, that jump and the approach to the weaves were a popular source of NQ scores if the handler just gave the dog a straight line out of the tunnel. The bar got dropped on a fair percentage, and bad approaches to the weaves didn’t help as much either. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have handled it with the switch. But I was content to make it square and make it work.

Just so you know, on this course I had a wrong course fault after the #11 jump as Kory went ahead into the #19 pipe tunnel. At the height of laziness I sent him from the table to do the four jumps, wanting to rely on directional control. I’d have done much better to step into the pocket and show him the turn.

Calling all Back Passers

I’d very much like to find out who else is using the Back Pass in agility. I find this an extraordinary “movement” that solves a number of interesting riddles in agility. And, I’d very much like to compare notes with others who are using it.

La Quinta Woes

As I begin to write this… it’s my last night in Salt Lake City and I’m holed up in air Airport hotel (La Quinta) so that I can get an early ayem shuttle. The airport/hotel area is a bleak region of hotel upon hotel; a desert of concrete and bad landscaping. And the Wifi at the La Quinta is broken. I’ll have a lot of work to do when I get home… since I can’t actually do it here. How about a movie?


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.

Agility Nerds

May 13, 2013

The weekend before last I had a fun weekend judging USDAA for Sky Blue Events in Indianapolis. They are fun people in that part of the world.

Course design took longer than judging. I worked pretty hard for this trial. I’m mostly enthralled by the problem of “leveling”. That means I want to present to each level of competitor (Starters, Advanced, Masters & Extreme) a course that is appropriate and balanced. I try to have a vision for each level. I had at least one course that my mutterer made me promise to never to do again (the last Masters standard for the record). For the most part though, I loved the courses and watching those Hoosiers solving my riddles.

League Play Game

Okay here’s what we’re playing (from Top Dog, of course).




This is a simple numbered course. If the handler can run the entire course without ever stepping inside the red box, 15 bonus points will be earned. If the handler can run the entire course without ever leaving the red box, 25 bonus points will be earned.

Jumplers is scored: Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus. 0


4″                    60 Seconds
8″                    53 Seconds
12″                  48 Seconds
16″                  43 Seconds
20″+                39 Seconds

If you want to play along with us… click. Visit our web site and see what other courses and games we are running:

The Back Pass

Okay, I have a new agility “movement” for you. There’s not many of us doing it yet. I’ll predict, however, that in ten years it will be a stock movement in the sport of dog agility.

I call it “The Back Pass”. It’s a simple concept: On command, your dog circles your body. The two types of Back Pass are: clockwise, and counter-clockwise. For a couple years I have been studying and practicing the Back Pass and have found a rich variety of possibilities for this movement in agility competition.

In the next few days I will try to video some applications for the Back Pass. Of course I’ll share those with you.

The tricky part that scares the hell out of even experienced dog trainers is that if you ever want to own the Back Pass you’ll actually have to train your dog to circle your body. But I will go out on a limb here and say that it’s just about as complicated as teaching a dog to do the collapsed tunnel. It seems a bit like Mission Impossible at first; but then the dog gets it, and you go on.

Quoth for Agility Nerds

You find the things that you Love, and you love them the most that you can.

~ Wil Wheaton
[Click HERE if you are a nerd.]


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.

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.

Doesn’t Get Any Better!

March 15, 2013

I’m guessing that Winter is nearly done. Though I haven’t been active on this blog, I have been doing a lot of work, with taxes, with Top Dog Agility Players, and with the Teacup Dogs Agility Association. And the TDAA is really ramping up for the year. I’ve reviewed something like 400 courses in the last couple weeks. It’s work that has to be done and has occupied me from early in the morning to late at night.

Oh, and taxes. Every year I go through this ritual in which I lock myself in my man cave and don’t come out until it’s all done. Okay, so it’s done.

Today is all Top Dog work… and maybe for several more days to come.

Follow along with the Top Dog blog:

The Winter Project

A couple years ago I built a raft, which is basically a wooden frame with six 50-gallon barrels under it. Here’s a picture of it:


It’s really quite heavy. As you can see I have it hoisted up with a saw horse at each corner. It’s kind of fun to float around on the pond and do some fishing. Kory likes it too. But I’ve found it an unattractive piece of work. So I’ve spent a few idle hours over the winter upgrading the basic features of the raft.


If it weighed a ton before, it weighs two tons now. I’ve fenced all the corners, added corner seats and painted the whole thing… mostly for the purpose of water proofing. I’m not really done with it at all. I’m going to add a second layer of flooring which will also be water-proofed, and painted a darker color for contrast.  And you’ll be proud to know that the entire raft is built with recycled wood!

It was a real engineering feat to get it up on the John Deere wagon, which I managed to do all by my lonesome. The next engineering feat will be to get it back down to the pond; tip it over to affix the barrels; and then get it in the water.


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.