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Training Exercises: Speed Circle - Building Speed and Confidence

Emily Hurt begins a three-part series of exercises based on a simple course layout. Today's sequences build speed, confidence, and attention to handler cues.

These "speed circle" exercises use only a simple set of equipment (two tunnels and six jumps), yet one course layout can provide a variety of exercises to build many different skills. Set up the obstacles this week and renumber it as this series continues over three parts. 

I love this set-up because there is something for everyone. It is so versatile that, regardless of your level of expertise, you can find sequences to be successful on and sequences to challenge you. You can also play around with the angles of the jumps to increase difficulty. This is a fun design that I like to bring out for my students from time to time.  If you set this up, be sure to get your running shoes on! It is important to note that, until the dog is moving at full speed through one sequence, I do not progress through the levels. Full speed or bust!

Course #1 is used to build speed, confidence, and commitment to the obstacle line (as opposed to commitment to each individual obstacle). If you hang back rather than run right next to your dog, you can also increase distance skills by practicing sends to the tunnels. For further distance and layering practice, remain on the outside of the circle on one side only (the "top" or the "bottom"). Your dog will be next to you for part of the exercise and you'll be layering jumps for the other part. 

This exercise is bidirectional, so you can practice on both the left and right. The handler should remain inside the circle the whole time.

Course #2 is designed to make sure the tunnel confidence we built in #1 didn't cross the line into tunnel sucking. Just because the tunnel is calling your name doesn't mean you don't have to listen to the human half of the equation! This is also a bidirectional exercise, so make sure you handle it off both the left and right.

If you and your dog conquer these exercises easily, don't forget to increase the difficulty by angling the jumps different ways to challenge your dog's jumping skills and to help them see the line of jumps even if they aren't straight on. Work these exercises this week and check back next week for the next two in the series. 

This article is part of a new Training Tuesday series that is appearing on USDAA's facebook page. We encourage you to discuss these exercises on our facebook, and to upload videos of you and your dog trying one of them out. If you have a facebook account, please join in the fun here: 

Emily Hurt lives in Allen, Texas with her husband and their 6.5 dogs. She teaches classes at All FUR Fun Training & Event Center in Addison, Texas and also offers online coaching and consultations through her website At 18,700 square feet, Emily's training center is the largest indoor, climate controlled agility facility in Texas. Emily is a Masters Judge and has been involved in agility for 12 years. Her dogs' motto is "If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough" - Mario Andretti.


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