Thanks to input from Members, we’re going to give a new course analysis format a try. The new format is to better assist all levels of agility competitors from Novice up through our most experienced competitors.
Please let us know what you think!
Reminder: To increase the course size for viewing, simply double click on it.
Cliff Notes Version for Novice – Best Way to Handle the Course:
- Lead out between #1 and 2. Begin with the dog coming in to your left side through obstacle #4-ish.
- Do a front cross between #4 & 5 so dog is now on right side going into the tunnel entrance.
- Coming out of tunnel, dog is back on handler’s left side and remains on that side until around the weave poles.
- A cross should occur around the weave poles (either before or after). There are lots of options and the best is dependent on you and your dog’s skill level. Read below for more details.
- Dog is on right for #11.
- Rear-cross #12 so now dog is on left through #15.
- Front cross after #15 so dog is on right through #18.
- Possible rear cross after #18 to get last jump. More details below.
Skills Challenge for Open – Training Suggestions To Get To The Next Level:
- Independent weave entries and weave performance. More details below.
The Details for Excellent – What Worked and What Didn’t:
Beginning at the start line, I have to say, I’m surprised at how many Excellent competitors (throughout the country, not in just this area) are fighting to gain a lead out with their dog. Sure, the dog is excited and the handler wants to run the course, but I can’t help but think starting out with a dog who breaks is like trying to catch a fly ball heading straight for your face. Do you duck or try to catch it? lol
Back to the course…
As I mentioned above, most handlers did a lead out between #1 and 2 and started with their dog on their left through the #4 jump.
It’s common that certain areas of the country will tend to be more front cross or rear cross dominant. This section of the country loves their rear crosses and so most handlers opted for the R/C when it came time to put the dog into the #5 tunnel. One of the negatives about the R/C was that handlers had to stop to wait for their dog to catch up and realized too late that they were facing the wrong side of the tunnel which pushed several dogs in that direction. My observation was that most handlers were ahead of their dog and could have easily gotten in a front cross which might have helped direct the dog into the correct end of the tunnel.
Sequence #6-9 was an easy line that was handled with the dog on the left.
As you look at the direction of the course around the weave poles, it is clear that a side change (where the dog goes from the left side of the handler to the right side of the handler) needs to occur somewhere in this area. There were several ways that this could occur (2 options at the beginning of the weaves and 2 options at the end of the weaves):
- A front-cross after the #9 jump and before the weaves. If a handler was ahead of their dog, this was a great option which allowed the dog to be on the handler’s right side and setup for the next sequence. This was the smoothest and most efficient option and made for an easy weave entry for the dog.
- A rear-cross once the dog was in the weave poles. Very few handlers chose this option and given the angle of the pole entry, unless this maneuver has been practiced previously, it isn’t one of my favorite options as a dog really needs to be great at weave pole entries. Also, the rear-cross was not as smooth for some handlers and dogs popped out of the poles.
- With the dog still on the handler’s left side and after the dog completed the weaves, the handler pushed with their left hand to turn the dog toward the #11 jump. This resulted in one of two things happening; 1) The handler then moved in so the dog was now on their right (this turned in to a R/C on the ground) as they approached #11 and #12; or
- 2) the handler worked to keep the dog on their left and had to really pick up their pace to get around the #11 jump and to signal the #12 jump. This option required a lot of effort on the handler’s part, even with a slower dog.
Moving on to the next sequence after the weave change of direction area, most handlers had their dog on the left side as they moved through the #13 to #17 jumps. However, the push to the #18 jump caught quite a few handlers off guard and since most dogs had been running full-out for almost 7 straight jumps, they were happy to continue moving straight ahead to the off-course jump after #17.
In an attempt to get their dog to turn toward #18, handlers were:
- Rear crossing #17. It worked about 60% of the time and most handlers had to repeatedly call their dog to interrupt their focus on the off-course jump straight ahead of #17. What might have helped to make this more successful was for the handler to get their dog’s attention prior to the #17 jump so they knew a change was coming up.
- Kept their dog on the left and tried to outrun their dog and push them toward #18. This option had about a 99.9% failure rate. I can’t say I recommend this one.
- Doing a front cross on the landing side of #15. I have to admit, this created a great line for #16-18 since the dog was curling in toward the handler after the #17 jump and after the #18 jump, they just had to push the dog straight ahead to the final #19 jump. Of course to help make this work, it required handlers to plan ahead by signaling the #13 jump and leaving the dog to take the #13-15 line of jumps while the handler remained ahead of the dog. This by far was a great choice.
Overall, this was a course that was nicely done by the handlers and they were up to the challenges of the course. Let me know how your training in these maneuvers goes!