Fri Exc FAST, Casper, WY

Reminder: To increase the course size for viewing, simply double click on it.

Cliff Notes Version for Novice – Best Way to Handle the Course:

This is an AKC FAST course which means each dog has X-amount of time (look at the bottom of the course map for specifics) to accumulate points (you chose the course) AND do the Send Bonus (which in this case is #6, 5 &4 – in that order), which may be completed any time prior to the buzzer.

A couple of things to know:

  1. Dogs must cross the start line (shown on the map with a line and an ‘S’ on each end.
  2. To stop the clock (an important thing), a dog must take the finish jump (from either side, it is bi-directional).
  3. Each full second a dog is over their course time, in other words has not stopped the clock by taking the finish jump, (again, see the bottom of the course map for the various times), you loose one full point.

I would suggest reading the FAST rules to better understand this game, or post here and I’ll be happy to answer your questions as time allows.

So here is what the majority of dogs did:

  1. Lead out past the 2 point double and called the dog over to start the clock.
  2. Keeping the dog on their left, handlers went for the 1 point jump and then on to the 3 point a-frame.
  3. Handlers did a front cross after the a-frame so the dog was now on their right and maneuvered them over the teeter. Interesting note: if this were an option on a course, you can bet fold would be worried about the approach and safety for the dogs…but in FAST, handlers seem to forget those things…
  4. With the dog still on their right, handlers went for the 1 point and then the 10 point jump and began the Send Bonus section.
  5. Handlers kept the dog on their right and overwhelmingly, handlers did not try to push their dog back to the #4 jump until after they had landed from #5…more on this later. Unfortunately, most dogs did not get the Send Bonus.
  6. After the Send Bonus, most handlers did the 1 point obstacle followed by the 9 point weaves.
  7. After the weaves, handlers tended to do a few more 1 pointed obstacles, the 8 point tunnel and then went on to the finish jump.

Skills Challenge for Open – Training Suggestions To Get To The Next Level:

  1. A ‘turn away’ from the handler/get out away from the handler, ‘switch’ back away from the handler or look back over the far shoulder command (the precise command depends on training styles).

The Details for Excellent – What Worked and What Didn’t:

In the FAST class, Excellent level handlers work hard to create a flowing course while accumulating as many points as possible.

Because of where the start line was, the beginning sequences generally included the teeter, a-frame and 2 1-pointed jumps.

Some handlers went on to include the weave poles and/or an additional 1-pointed jump. A second option excluded the weave poles and had them going directly toward the far right corner of the ring which included the 1-pointed winged jump and the 10-pointed triple prior to engaging the Send Bonus.

Almost everyone included the 10-pointed triple in the pre-Send Bonus and was able to easily obtain the 6 & 5-pointed jumps. However, most handlers were not able to send their dog back out to the 4-pointed jump. Admittedly, this was a tough Send, but what I did notice is that handlers waited until their dog had landed after the 5-point jump before telling them the direction they needed their dog to go. Subsequently, dogs landed coming in to the handler which created an almost impossible line to #4.

My suggestion would be that handlers needed to signal their dog PRIOR to the 5-pointed jump so that dogs were landing in a way that would encourage them to move away from the handler and in the direction of the #4 jump. Again, training a dog to move out and away from a handler truly is a challenge and while I would have LOVED to see more folks qualify, I also believe that FAST participants need to practice for the extreme…such as they do in USDAA. I say this only because I WANT people to be successful and to train ALL of the skills.

I KNOW dogs and handlers can do this. It just takes a little training, practice and time to solidify this skill set.

As a 20+ year dog agility coach, I am passionate about producing quality resources for dog agility teams by promoting self-development and delivering clear and specific training solutions that enable teams' to perform with clarity and confidence!

My unique experience as a hands-on trainer and 18+ year dog agility judge led me to create Sequencing For Success and the highly successful 2on-2off Contact Training DVD.

Our household has included Dalmatians, Labradors, Belgian Tervuren, Border Collies and engaging cats.

Contact Lisa via email AgilityOne at (replace at with @ sign)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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