Course Builder

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Every issue of DogSport magazine includes courses perfect for instructors and the backyard course builder.

We will be getting rally courses up on this site soon but for now enjoy some of our recent maps as published in the Home Improvement section of the magazine. The title often suggests which piece of equipment or which maneuver is being focused on in that particular Home Improvement. Just click on the heading and you’ll see a link to download the courses as a PDF. Please use these in classes or on your own. All we ask is that you credit DogSport magazine and that you come back and leave comments so we know what you learned or how you tweaked these courses.

Double Up Course Builder
Sep 2nd, 2008 | By DS Staff | Category: Courses
by Isabelle Michaud, from the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of DogSport

Do you find, like most of us, that you rarely pull out your spread jumps during practice? And then you wonder why your dog knocks bars on the double in a trial? This set of exercises is designed to cure that. The exercises incorporate the double jump and provide opportunities to practice sending and turning over the double. If you don’t have an actual double jump, just use two singles back to back. Measure the distance between the poles so you are within the prescribed guidelines.

Courses inspired by USDAA 2007 World Cynosport Games
Sep 2nd, 2008 | By DS Staff | Category: Courses
By Tracy Sklenar, from the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of DogSport
This month’s Home Improvement exercises are inspired by the Dog Agility Masters and Performance Versatility Pairs classes at USDAA World Cynosport Games.

Exercises 1 through 9 are based on the middle section of the Team Jumpers class. Exercise 1 is very similar to the actual sequence, while 2 through 9 are variations on a theme. These sequences are meant to challenge your weave entries and tunnel discrimination’s. Exercises 10 through 14 are based on an early section of the Team Standard course, where a lot of folks struggled to keep their dogs on course and to get flowing lines. In these exercises, I am using an A-frame to save space, rather than the dog walk used in the original course. However, you should find the challenges to be just as difficult.

The last set of exercises (15 through 18) are based on the closing of the Team Standard course how can you handle these to get the best lines to the last jump. Please remember that all of these are middle-of-the-course sequences that are best practiced by starting with (or behind) your dog, and not giving yourself a long lead-out. The courses on which they are based can be found in their entirety at www.usdaa.com.

Acceleration/deceleration
Sep 1st, 2008 | By DS Staff | Category: Courses
by Tracy Sklenar, from the Mar/Apr 2008 issue of DogSport

The first step toward mastering the mechanics of acceleration and deceleration is to practice without your dog. Your friends and neighbors might think you are a bit strange, but you will be happy with the results. Start by moving slowly, then add more and more speed as you gain confidence. When you are ready, add your dog to he mix. After all, it is your dog who will give you the best feedback about the timing and clarity of your cues! I also recommend that you videotape all of your sessions, so you can watch your mechanics in action.

Here are 15 sequences that will help you practice your acceleration and deceleration. Several of these sequences can be done entirely in acceleration mode, and several can be done almost entirely in deceleration mode. However, most of the sequences will require you to transition from acceleration to deceleration then back again to acceleration. This emulates what you’ll see on a real course.

Let your body do the talking and try to work these sequences with no verbal cues (except for releases from start lines and contacts, and calling your dog while he is in the tunnel). By staying quiet when you run, not only will you be better able to concentrate on your mechanics but you will also see how your dog responds to your body cues (rather than relying on verbals). Remember to place your reinforcement wisely to help build your dog’s understanding of acceleration mode and deceleration mode.

Rear crosses
Aug 31st, 2008 | By DS Staff | Category: Courses, Materials
By Tracy Sklenar, from the May/June 2008 issue of DogSport

Take your rear crosses to the next level with these drills. They are set up to get you and the dog driving through a series of rear crosses in a tight space. Challenge yourself to stay consistent by asking yourself these questions:

Between which two obstacles does the rear cross belong?
Where is the rear cross diagonal?
Which positions would be inconsistent and create questions from the dog?

Avoid any rear-cross inconsistencies, as they will either slow the dog down or send the dog off course.
Do not give yourself a lead-out on these sequences. Start either with your hand on the dog’s collar or put him in a stay while you take a step or two laterally. Many of the drills will tell you which side to put the dog on to start off, so you can maximize the rear-cross benefits.
For extra credit, after you have worked through all the rear crosses, go back and run all the drills with lead-outs and front crosses.

Fun with frames
Aug 30th, 2008 | By DS Staff | Category: Courses
By Tracy Sklenar, from the Sep/Oct 2008 issue of DogSport

Here is a simple set-up for backyard practice. All you’ll need are four jumps, one tunnel and an A-frame (although you can substitute the dog walk or teeter just tweak the spacing to accommodate those obstacles.)
How are you going to handle the tunnel discrimination’s? Handlers who have trained a stopped contact will have a different plan than those with running contacts. The level of independence in obstacle performance will also influence handling choices on these exercises.

Another challenge on these sequences involve running by the A-frame and the tunnel, without the dog getting permission to take them! Many agility dogs consider A-frames and tunnels to be high value┬Ł obstacles and will often flick away in close quarters to get on them. Be sure to reinforce the dog for following your handling and ignoring the A-frame and tunnel unless he is told to take them!

Enjoy!