This course was created for my home state agility peeps in Washington. When designing the course, I was feeling the pressure…something challenging, yet fun to run.
(Reminder, click on the course to enlarge it for better viewing)
Lately I’ve dabbled a bit on some creative course design (the Push-Back for example) and thought I’d incorporate a couple of traditional agility sequences with a few unique angles and directions.
The first challenge came up at the #3 tunnel. I thought this would be an easy gimme challenge and there were two main issues that came up.
- Dogs will be dogs and the tunnel is still the black hole that they just love to dive into!
- Dog training is evolving and with a running dog walk comes the extra challenge of directing a dog at full speed. I would have anticipated running D/W handlers to utilize a rear cross before the tunnel, instead they worked hard to embrace the speed and get a front cross in. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. To the credit of those it did not work for, they recognized this was a training opportunity for their young dog.
As for the main group of handlers, I’d say it was an even split between front and rear crosses when directing their dog into the correct end of the tunnel.
Moving on, in the next sequence, most dogs made the weave pole entry look easy, but some handlers almost sent their dog to the off-course table afterward as they weren’t used to the next obstacle being ‘back’ from the weave.
A front cross seemed to be the maneuver of choice between #6-7 and very few dogs fell for the off-course tunnel next to the a-frame.
However, the sequence that caused the most faults was #10-14 where the placement of the side-change in that area tended to have a huge impact on the outcome on how the dog’s path looked as they landed after jump #13. One of three scenarios potentially played out.
- The handler did not support jump #11 as they were distracted by the upcoming obstacles which resulted in a non-qualifying score. As a side note, This is often one of the most common mistakes I see. Handlers assume the easy obstacles and stop handling them before completion…If you get nothing else from this course analysis, remember to focus on one thing at a time while on course!
- There is a handler path in red that shows where handlers did a front cross between jumps #11 and 12. The placement of the front cross in this area had dogs taking a very wide path as the handler tried to work around the #12 jump. (Note: I would venture to say that had there been an off-course option where the closed-end of the chute is, there would have been quite a few wrong course faults added). After this front cross, handlers then had to work hard to push their dog to the #13 jump which resulted in another wide path for the dog. However, the result of this second wide path (shown as the blue line on the right) pushed the dogs off of the correct tunnel and right up the a-frame.
- In contrast, the handler path shown in green shows handlers doing a front cross between #12 and #13. This option allowed handlers to push to support the #11 jump and easily move down to execute a smooth front cross. The extra benefits were that the dog’s natural path pulled them over the #12 jump and the handler could remain in place after sending the dog over #13. By remaining stationary, the dog was quick to recognize there was no longer any additional drive forward and so they turned back to the handler and saw the tunnel entrance which could now be presented to them. This was by far, the more successful handling of the various options.
- A fourth option was that handlers rear-crossed the #13 jump. In general, this worked well too, however I’m not convinced this choice encouraged speed, but it definitely was a safe choice for those who chose this option.
The remainder of the course was straight forward and allowed the dogs to run at full speed to complete the course. It was a great warm-up run to start the weekend off.
(Below is a course map with the successful handler’s path)