Posts Tagged ‘Back Pass’

The Back-Pass

September 20, 2015

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The first back-pass I ever saw in the context of dog agility was probably about 10 or 12 years ago. Stuart Mah was running a nice little Corgi dog, and on the exit of the weave poles he cued the dog to come around him clockwise. All the movement really did for him at the moment is resolve a change of sides at a jump following the poles. He wasn’t forced into rear-crossing the dog at the upcoming jump.

I’ve studied the movement now for several years and have pretty much integrated a back-pass into my work in agility. While it only takes about 20 minutes to teach to a dog; the skill is foreign in our collective conscious and understanding of the game of agility. This is lonely work without the benefit of collaborative study of my erstwhile peers. Nobody really understands it yet.

The National Dog Agility League course for September featured a back-side jump performance early in the course. The back-pass is ideally suited for a number of international-style­ challenges, including the pull-through and the back-side jump; and any moment begging for a vee-set. Here’s my league run, if you care to live through it: https://youtu.be/TrDXYFoG5Xc

The key attribute of the back-pass that I find most appealing is that the dog drops completely out of obstacle focus to curl tightly around the handler’s position.

This was my original league analysis: http://wp.me/p2Pu8l-4T. I didn’t actually use the handling that I had originally contemplated.

Notes on the Back Pass

The back-pass is not a “movement”. It is a skill taught to the dog

The counter-side foot establishes the direction of the dog’s movement on the finish. And so, it should point in the direction you want the dog to move. The handler should measure the distance to the next obstacle to ensure that the dog has adequate room for that approach.

The movement doesn’t have to be a literal 180 turn. The back-pass could be used to indicate the barest turning radius. With that in mind, the handler may rotate as the dog circles around; or the handler may begin the rotation as the dog moves to the handler’s position.

The back-pass has none of the “rock-on-a-string” qualities of the Front Cross; and generally will deliver a quicker and neater turn.

While the back-pass seems to blend in spirit with the Blind Cross, it is not so “fuzzy” a movement as the Blind Cross; but also does not deliver the quality of acceleration that makes the Blind Cross bold and aggressive.

“The key attribute of the back-pass that I find most appealing is that the dog drops completely out of obstacle focus to curl tightly around the handler’s position.” When I say this to people out in the world I look for a light to switch on behind their eyes. I’m disappointed when I don’t see the light. Where there is no light, there is only darkness.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

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Cedar’s Back Pass Training

January 16, 2015

I’d like to share with you a couple short recordings of Cedar’s early Back Pass training. Right now I’m teaching a clockwise Back Pass, and I use the verbal “Come By”. I reckon I’m ruining any herding career… but that’s no major loss.

This recording shows a very early introduction to the Back Pass:

http://youtu.be/ZUXL6rAFOpI

I teach this initially by luring around my body with a food treat, while giving the verbal command. This soon becomes a draw with my lead… maybe even a flick of the arm. Gradually I relax the physical cue until it turns to verbal only.

Here’s a recording of the Back Pass not quite a week into the training:

http://youtu.be/9fePPUNIqys

I would probably record more. But don’t you know this is meal-time training. Frankly, sometimes I’m in my robe and big fluffy slippers. And that doesn’t make very attractive video.

Marsha makes the point in one of the recordings that Cedar is a dog who has never had a meal just plopped down for her to eat. From the moment she came into our house she has worked for every bit of every meal. This is the essence of the Two-Minute Dog Trainer.

This protocol makes her keen to learn and anxious to offer performance to earn her meals. When she’s young she’ll learn skills that she’ll hold for life.

You might wonder why I’m teaching this skill. It is certainly not very common in the agility world. I maintain that in another ten years it will be a common skill. The agility world “at large” hasn’t much discovered it yet. Consider these qualities: When calling the dog to a Back Pass the dog drops completely out of obstacle focus and into handler focus; and, it allows the handler to perfectly set the corner of approach to the course.  I’ll leave you to mull over the consequences of these attributes.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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 Lesson Plan

August 31, 2014

I’ll often approach development of a lesson plan with some absurd notion of a challenge that forces me and my students to hone a practical handling or dog training skill. Lately I’ve been preoccupied with the pull/push through course challenge and the use of a Back Pass to solve.

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This is the initial sketch. The moment of the Back Pass is clearly in the transition from the weave poles to the blind approach pipe tunnel at #4. I’ve got to chuckle just a bit at the presumption of the handler being forward in the gap as the dog dismounts the weave poles. This demonstrates that I design for my own pre-requisite skill set. A more novice students may struggle both with the send to the tire and the call-through the weave poles required for the handler to have the required forward position.

This sequence calls for a second pull/push through in the transition from the pipe tunnel to the backside of jump #5. Ye gods.

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While I might be tempted to do an entire class with a diminutive smattering of obstacles on the floor, it really isn’t very practical. As this lesson plan was put up the week before a three-day agility trial I knew I had to have other equipment on the floor.

This sequence/course begins with a contact obstacle the philosophical underpinnings of which require a whole separate article/blog. Let’s just say for now that it’s a protocol for smoothing impulse control.  I’m tempted to end with a contact obstacle as well.

You’ll note that I’ve changed the nature of the pull/push through challenge. Can’t say I like it too much as it’s more like a threadle and might be solved with a simple Front Cross.

In the design of the lesson plan I can pop this drawing on my printer and head out to the training building to set it up. This is lovely exercise in the hottest part of the summer, requiring a light cotton shirt and a tall iced tea. I’ll take Kory with so that he can follow me around the training building optimistically dropping a tennis ball under my feet while I work.

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What ultimately gets set up on the floor is this bit. The transition from jump #6 to the opposite side pipe tunnel suited my desire to test the Back Pass for drawing the dog neatly out of obstacle focus for the push/pull through challenge.

I added the tunnel on the other side of the A-frame for a bit of a discrimination challenge (faced twice, mind you). Last week we had a discussion of and tutorial for teaching the dog to discriminate between tunnel and contact on verbal command only. I don’t expect my students to master a thing on its introduction. But I do remind them of why they’d better get going with the training protocol after I’ve made that introduction.

Jump #14 is a bit of a puzzler as there is a choice of turning directions both of which are challenging in their own way.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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 Alchemist

August 31, 2014

I’ve been struggling with the implications of the running Back Pass and a variety of applications that have the handler folding through the rotation to give the dog an early dismount. The more you think about this, the more the whole thing resembles a Blind Cross. Rather than engaging in a mind-numbing attempt to differentiate and dignify the two movements as separate, I’m inclined now to accept that they were related all along and have been held apart only by context.

The Back Pass is a skill taught to the dog; The Blind Cross is a handler movement. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll refer to the Back Pass as a movement. Just be mindful of the difference.

I accept the alchemy of the two concepts bonded not only as relations; but as intrinsically related. The discussion could get exciting on this small point. While I’m a considerable advocate of the blind cross as a handling tool, I have long believed that in the presence of a wrong course option, the blind cross is too weak a signal.

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This illustration might be both drastic and obvious. Often enough it’s the not-so-obvious wrong course options that catch up the Blind Cross handler. But the illustration serves (and clearly, there’s a lot of Stevie Wonder in the Blind Cross).

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Let’s suppose then that the handler uses his clockwise Back Pass command in the moment before committing to the Cross. The ostensible Blind Cross is set upon a verbal cue and not the dog’s pure response to movement.

Mind that this is a complete swag with an incomplete statistical sampling. Though, don’t you know, in my own house are more dogs that know a Back Pass than I could otherwise name out in the rest of the world. So I’ll test and refine with my own dogs; and call the sampling good enough.

A Note to the Future Agility Guru

The most interesting attribute of the Back Pass as a handling movement is that the dog drops completely out of obstacle focus and into handler focus for a tightly controlled movement around the handler’s body.

On the face of it, one would think that the “tightly controlled movement” is the most important/interesting attribute of the movement. But the clever fellow (Guru in training) will recognize that “drops completely out of obstacle focus” is the amazing and important attribute of the movement.

In the age of “Something Wicked This Way Comes” the Back Pass becomes the canny handler’s solution to pull/push through, backside approach, threadle and other impending demons.

There’s about a dozen of us in the whole world studying the Back Pass. I reckon that in ten years it will be required study by serious students of the game.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Turning Choices

October 6, 2013

Last weekend I was in Grand Junction, CO for an agility seminar. While the participants were largely novice, they were willing and brought along a nice bunch of dogs to work with. I look forward to working with them again.

Did I mention this is my busy season? I’ve tried to stay up on chores and miscellaneous projects around the property. Sometimes I wish I owned two mules and a 14 year old boy. But it’s just me and Marsha. I’d share my list of chores and projects with you. But you know, it’ll just sound like a bunch of work.

Aside from the torture of physical labor I’ve been reviewing courses until my brain turns numb. And you know, I have a trial coming up next weekend (USDAA) and I’m only just now wrapping the course design process with reviewers. I’ll be on the road by Friday, heading for Louisville. Is it Louisville? I’d better check.

I’ve also been continuing to work with my girl Prim. At the moment I’m concentrating on Left and Right, a back-pass, and the weave poles. And I’m enjoying playing with about a 50’ send. She can be amazing.

And, don’t you know, we have the TDAA Petit Prix coming up. This is my favorite event of the year and I’m really looking forward to the competition. Some of the best small dogs and handlers in this country will converge on Latrobe, PA to show their skills. It’s on the calendar (http://tdaanews.wordpress.com/tdaa-events-calendar/). I hope you are planning on coming! I know that I need to write some white paper notes on the games we’ll be playing, and publish them in this web log. Need to get started on that. The Petit Prix is in about three weeks.

As is our tradition, I’ll be heading up two days early for the Petit Prix Warm-up Workshop. It’s packed full. Of course I intend to give everyone a real intense work-out, and get them primed for the competition.

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For my Tuesday night class I have the set of the floor pictured here. There’s something I saw in a course I was reviewing that I’d like to present as a lesson to my students. I’ve talked about it before… the logic of turning direction when a jump presents a choice of turning directions. Just to pick out an obvious example of turning direction: in the sequence pictured above, what direction should the handler turn his dog after jump #3?

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If you follow my writing at all you probably know that I have an analysis I go through to make an informed decision about turning direction. I take into account things like “natural turning direction”, risk, length of path… and as this exercise illustrates: “consequential path”.

This illustration seems to be a bit of a no-brainer. Though surely when some people put their dogs on course they don’t even do the no-brainer analysis.

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It wouldn’t take much to draw some of the other elements of analysis into turning direction analysis. And yet “consequential path” still makes its own powerful argument. Maybe what it really argues for are handling skills.

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It’s late now and I think I’m just going to go to bed. There are some things I leave for solving while I sleep and I need to get to those.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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 Education of Prim

September 24, 2013

We have this young Border Collie pup named Prim. She comes to us from a dog shelter in Cincinnati. She didn’t really fit with the pack very well, from the beginning. We didn’t get a good bond. There’s no question about that. We placed her for a bit with Marsha’s sister. But that pretty much ended when Prim bit her (Marsha’s sister). Prim isn’t like a vicious dog or anything. She has a startle response that resolves to a bite… a bite that doesn’t draw blood or anything; but a bite none-the-less. Indeed, Prim has bitten Marsha once, and me twice.

When Prim was returned to us, about a week ago, I pretty much knew that I had to amend my slothful approach to her education. I have resorted to a dog training methodology for which I have never been a zealous advocate. It’s basically a “nothing in life is free” kind of thing. I housed her down in the training building, segregated from the pack. And I’ve spent the week doing seven-a-day sessions with her. About every two hours I go out to the training building, get her out of her x-pen (on-leash); walk her to do her business, and then do a training session with her.

The early results have been spectacular. I’d do a blow by blow; but the hour is late and I need to move on to other compelling tasks. But I’ll catch you up with what we’re doing in the next couple of days.

Class Tonight

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This is a very old exercise in my repertoire. It’s a crossing exercise that allows the handler to practice and perfect a couple different kinds of Front Crosses and/or a couple different kinds of Rear Crosses.

It occurs to me that old exercises can be dusted off and updated with new skills that demand our attention in competition today. I’ll illustrate:

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This is not just a back-side approach to a jump, but also a pull/push-through to set up the approach to the jump. I personally solve this with a Back Pass. But you should know that there are several interesting solutions.

Lost Lesson Plan

Here’s a part of a lesson plan from a couple weeks ago. While I was “unplugged” I didn’t actually share it with you. As you can see, I was still obsessed with cluster work.

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Ass Pass Class

Okay, I reported in my last blog that Queen City has started offering an Ass Pass Class. My bad. The class is actually a “Backside Jumping” class. That means they are training strategies for the blind or managed approach to an obstacle. Just to be clear… it was reported to me as an Ass Pass Class. You can see the confusion between Backside and Ass.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Ass Pass Class

September 11, 2013

 

Okay, I have to say right off the bat that I’ve wanted to call this movement a “Back-Pass”. But it sounds to me like the terminology that’s catching on in the world has devolved to “Ass Pass”. Fine then.

Awhile back I speculated that in another 10 years the Backpass would be a common movement in agility. I need to amend that prediction; at this point I think it’s going to be more like two years. Up at Queen City (Cincinnati, OH) they’re offering an “Ass Pass Class”. I’m mildly curious about the objectives of the class. I expect early on they’ll focus on simply teaching their dogs to curl tightly around the handler’s body (both in clockwise and counter-clockwise movement).

What I’m more interested in right now is application. Fundamentally the Backpass accomplishes the same thing as a Front Cross. You could make an argument that it’s a form of the Blind Cross; but the technical execution is considerably different. The performance, by the dog, is to circle the handler’s body neat and tight.

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In this drawing I show a five-sided “cluster”. The handler has a lead out advantage forward of the dog. As the dog commits over jump #2 the handler gives a command for a click-wise Backpass (the command I use is “Come By”). Note in the drawing that I’ve established the handler’s left foot pointing to and releasing to the #3 jump.

You should also recognize that I probably would not use a Backpass if the dog turns to the left after jump #3. The movement has a vee-set quality in this instance that sets the dog up nicely for a right turn after jump #3.

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In class this week we played a bit with the pull/push-through challenge. I’m not sure if I really designed the perfect working set. But it was interesting.

In this sequence the moment for the Backpass is in the transition from jump #7 to jump #8. Of course the dog needs a good independent performance of the dogwalk so the handler can have a control position well on the landing side of jump #7.

Queen City

Marsha and I are taking off tomorrow afternoon for Cincinnati. I’m doing a warm-up workshop on Friday. Of course I plan to give them a good warm-up. I’ll continue studying on both the obstacle “cluster”, the blind approach, and the pull-through. I’ll have to design something in the morning…

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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).

Jumplers
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Briefing

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

Qualifying:

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: http://topdogagilityplayers.wordpress.com/

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.]

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.