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Training Exercises: Dot and Dash

Deborah Davidson Harpur designed these training exercises to work on tunnel exits.

This course was designed so that I could work on training with straight tunnels and letting my dog know which way to exit coming out of each tunnel. There are hundreds of ways to run the course and within each numbered course, there are multiple ways to handle the course to get the final result the way you want it. 

My training group started off with a super smooth "intro" course. It is just 12 obstacles, basically a big zig zag where the dogs could FLY. We also ended with this course after doing three other patterns on the same set up.

The intro course.

All the courses.

The dark circles #1-#14 changed up the pattern and included some harder handling challenges. From #3-#4 at which end of the tunnel are you crossing? Please keep in mind that your safety and the safety of your dog is paramount. Yes, challenge yourself to move a little quicker, but do not get yourself taken out by your dog at the end of a tunnel crossing (like at black circles #3-#4). 

The next course we did was the white squares #1-#19. The backsides of the jumps are introduced right away (at #2) along with some figure 8 type work #6-#7 with backsides scattered throughout. Yep we are getting ready for those Master Challenge classes! 

Up next were the dark squares. It has a tricky start - from the front side of #1 to a tunnel to the backside of a jump that is straight in front of you. Whoooa Nellie! I was reminded why I am working on improving my stamina and fitness level. Somehow the dogs are totally fit, but me, not so much, and that section of the course (right at the start) put me off a bit. I had to work on it to make sure I wasn't stressing out and playing catch up the entire time. I ended up breaking that course down into sections working on that for a day or so. Then I went back to it when my mind wasn't remembering all the previous courses. 

Finally, I let the dogs go back to the intro course again just to have fun. And they did! 

A blank course - make up your own exercises!
Deborah Davidson Harpur has been competing in agility since 1999 and is known as a handler of a wide variety of breeds of all shapes and sizes. She offers agility training classes in the Port of Los Angeles area for both recreational and competitive agility students. You can find her on facebook at or read about her dogs at


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