Posted Date: November 25, 2014
This course challenged some of the best agility competitors in the world! Train on it! By Brenna Fender
We take a break from our "Have a Nice Day!" series to train on this Jumping Individual course from the recent 2014 Continental Championship of the Americas. This class proved exceptionally challenging to top competitors and so it provides many opportunities for training various skills.
Several parts of this course had many handling options. Most handlers lead out at the opening, although the distance and the exact location varied. Where should you position yourself with your lead-out in order to best direct your dog to #3 and beyond?
Obstacles #4-#7 provided the first big challenge. The majority of handlers did a cross in front of their dogs between #4 and #5. Most of these crosses were front crosses, where the handlers turned into their dogs while changing them from the handlers' left side to the right.
Handlers had two choices after jump #6: turn the dog to his right or to his left. The dog that turned to the left had an easier weave pole entry, but he was also faced with the off-course tunnel. Dogs that turned to the right had to make a challenging weave pole entry without much help from the handler. At the event, there were many off-courses among dogs that turned left. What works best for your dog? Take some time to train the weave pole entry from the right turn, and the tunnel/weave discrimination from the left turn.
Numbers #8-#10 provide a pretty smooth sweep. Can you layer the #3 jump as your dog takes #10 and heads toward the tunnel? Staying out of the pocket allows you to get ahead for the upcoming sequence.
Now look at #11-#14. After layering, most handlers got ahead of their dogs so that they could blind cross (change sides with their backs to their dogs). Many drove into the box to front cross between #12 and #13. But a lot of those front crosses were late, causing the dog to overshoot and then turn back a bit in order to take the jump. This wasted time and caused some confusion. Can you make it to front cross there without getting in your dog's way? And, after your front cross, can you avoid pushing your dog off course to #20? Other handlers held back at #12, pulling their dogs to #13 and then crossing behind them to pull their dogs to #14. This worked fairly smoothly. Try the sequence both ways and see what works best for you.
After completing #14, the dogs were off and running for #15 and #16. But did they get the correct tunnel opening on #16? That depended on their handlers' positions. A lot of handlers who front crossed to be on the right of their dogs here were caught behind the wing of #15. When they veered to the right to avoid it, they pulled their dogs into the wrong end of the tunnel. Handlers who got far ahead and avoided this sidestep and those who stayed on the left side avoided this problem. But an ill-timed cross behind the dogs from those handlers who were running on the left side pushed dogs into the wrong end of the tunnel as well. Timing is everything! Try this sequence handling off of both sides and see what works best for you.
The ending provided a few options as well. Which way do you turn your dog over #17? Time your dog here to see if one way is faster than the other. Do you stay with your dog on your left or front cross and handle with the dog on your right? And, if you have your dog on the right, where do you cross to pull him to the last jump? Do you rear cross at the entry of the chute? What about after the exit? See what works best for your and your dog.
If you have a small space in which to train, set up only a segment of the course at a time. Numbers 5-7 is a great choice. And #11-#16 could fit in a long, narrow ring and would be great to practice as well.
This article is part of USDAA's Training Tuesday series that is appearing on USDAA's facebook page. We encourage you to discuss this course on our facebook and to upload videos of your class or training group playing this game. If you have a facebook account, please join in the fun here: https://www.facebook.com/USDAA.
Brenna Fender is a freelance/writer and editor. She parents three dogs, two children, and various other critters. Brenna started training dogs in the early 90s and has experience in multiple dog sports. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org