Sun, Exc Standard, Colorado Springs, CO

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:

  1. Start with dog on left to #1 tunnel.
  2. Do a front-cross so dog is on right going over #2 jump and into #3 tunnel.
  3. Do front-cross so dog is on left through obstacles #4-7.
  4. Do front-cross so dog is on right through obstacles #8-11.
  5. Dog on left while leaving table through obstacle #15.
  6. Rear-cross #16 and push over remain jumps #17-18.

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

  • Dog understands that even with increased speed, they must do all obstacles as trained. More information below.

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

Let me just start out by saying this was a fast, flowing course!

It started off by revving the dogs up by enticing them with two tunnels within the first 3 obstacles. I’ve often heard the tunnel referred to as ‘the particle accelerator’, so imagine what two of them did to increase the dog’s speed and happy mood!

From there they were off to jump #4 and hopefully the dog walk. Unfortunately the off-course double seemed to draw several dogs in and handlers were left wondering what happened so early in the game. To answer the ‘What happened’ mystery, several handlers hung around, waiting for their dog to come out of the tunnel before they began moving toward the #4 jump and setting the line for the dog walk. As a result, they were left trying to get around the #4 wing and were squarely facing and momentarily moving toward the double. Naturally, that’s where the dog thought they were going and due to their speed, handlers found it was too late to alter their direction toward the dog walk.

This part of the country seemed to have contact concerns and I noticed many folks were trying desperately to manage them. However where they lacked in contact training, they made up for in weave pole entries. Nice job there!

Moving on to jump #7 and into the next sequence, it was a 50/50 split between those who did a front cross on the landing side of #7 and those who chose to do a cross after the #8 teeter (which ended up being a rear-cross at #9). If a handler didn’t have independent weave poles, the cross after the teeter was the better choice since those handlers were behind the dog when they sent them over the #7 jump.

Moving on to the #9 double, I have to say that for those who did their cross after the teeter, it created a nice tight line from the double to the #10 a-frame.

As for the #11 table, most handlers simply pushed to it with the dog on their right, although I did have a few handlers who skipped it entirely and moved directly onto the #12 tire without skipping a beat.

For those who did include the table, they had their dog on the left side as they approached #12 & 13. Of all the jumps on the course, the #13 jump was by far, the one that went down the most.  Some of the potential reasons were that the handlers were further back and not supporting the jump, the dog saw the chute and put their head down early in anticipation of the obstacle, or that the dogs were just hyped, moving at a fast pace and not picking up their feet.

Surprisingly, there were several dogs who never went into the chute and pulled with their handlers as they tried to get down toward the landing side of the triple. Given this, I would say that #13 mainly went down due to handlers neglecting to support the line over #13 and into the #14 chute.

Those who did successfully support #13 & 14 generally executed a rear cross over #16, although several handlers did get in a successful front cross on the landing side of #15 as well (they had to move fast to get that in!).

Unfortunately, some dogs did bypass either #16 when handlers pushed in to their dog too early and some dogs even missed the #17 jump when they took a wide turn off of #16.

In the ending sequence, dog & handler had to be right on with their timing. Given the speed of the course and adrenaline flowing at full steam, it was a challenge for most teams. These same two reasons make NQ’s at the very end of the course incredibly disappointing for all. For me, because I’m incredibly mesmerized by the team, the rhythm and rooting for them. For the dog and handler because they’re creating a high for themselves with such a spectacular run and who wants to blow that at the very end?!?!

So the lesson to be learned on this course was that speed is something to be proofed and while it can be fun, it can be a course-killer too!

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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