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Bud Houston's Basic Handler Moves


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Something to chew over...

Bud HoustonBud Houston is one of America’s pioneering agility teachers, stressing solid handing fundamentals and positive training techniques. He currently operates Bud Houston’s Country Dream in southeast Ohio where he and his wife offer agility and rally‑o camps, resort visits, ongoing classes, and monthly workshops for agility enthusiasts.. He wrote this article describing some of his better known moves. Comparing them to your way of handling today makes interesting reading.

Axford Axel
The Axford Axel is a crossing turn executed as the dog leaves the weave poles.

Back Cross
The Back Cross is a cross behind the dog on the take-off side of a jump. While this is quite intuitive to Novice handlers, it is actually quite an advanced handling movement, and should be practiced under the watchful eye of a skilled instructor.

Blind Turn
The Blind turn is a crossing turn in front of the dog in which the handler turns away from the dog and shows a new lead on the opposite side.

Crossing Turn
The Crossing Turn is a turn that incorporates a change of leads, meaning a counter-rotation on the landing side of a jump or exit end of an obstacle.  That is, the dog starts on one side of the handler, and is switched to the opposite side in the course of the turn. Crossing Turn is a bit of a misnomer. Technically speaking, given the above definition, the Blind Turn, Axford Axel, and Back Cross are all Crossing Turns.

Post Turn
The post turn is a same-sided turn. That is, the dog starts on one side of the handler and stays on that side of the handler through the turn. If the blind turn has a down side, it is that the handler's movement is not very robust.

Reverse Flow Pivot
The Reverse Flow Pivot is actually two-crossing turns, one coming rapidly on the heels of the other. It has two parts, a rotation towards the dog, and then a resumption of the original direction. The effect of the RFP is to tighten the dog to the handler's position.

Scoop
A Scoop is a handling move whereby the handler tucks up against the exit end of a tunnel and takes off running at the same moment the dog is exiting the tunnel. This gives the dog a motivational boost, and is the handling preferred to running down field and coming to a standstill as the dog catches up (somewhat unmotivated by the handler's stop).

Tandem Turn
The Tandem Turn is a cross behind the dog on the landing side of a jump, or on the exit end of any other obstacle. It should incorporate an off-arm signal that becomes a non-verbal signal to the dog to make the turn.

Top Spin
The Top Spin is a 360° turn away from the dog. It has the same effect on the dog's path as does the RFP. However, this turn is somewhat superior to the RFP in that it allows the handler to stay in motion and does not set the dog back on his haunches.


Bud Houston has been instrumental in developing the sport of dog agility in The States. He was the founder and former editor of Clean Run, and today is involved in the start-up of Just For Fun agility, a new agility organization dedicated to agility as an inexpensive recreational sport.

He lives in Ostrander, Ohio (USA) where he runs Dogwood Agility Training Center, a training camp and center for weekly lessons in the sport. He is also a judge for American Kennel Club and United States Dog Agility Association.


From Lynn Sigman
When I was in Starters with Sam (for a very, very long time), I was continually frustrated by how 'well' we always seemed to do in the Games versus the Standard class.

I remember vividly, one day in Upstate New York (June '96), a kinda short guy with a cute beard came around with an armful of magazines he wanted to give out as samples.

He offered me a copy of his rag, and looked at my X-pen with Sam inside, wagging furiously,  modestly decorated with several placement ribbons. He complimented me on them. I thanked him politely and immediately complained about how stupid it was that we always did well at Games, but Standard was always a disaster.

Bud Houston sat down and talked to me for quite a while about what games were about (fun) and why Sam and I did well at them. And why we were not successful at NON-games (guess?) .

I can only pass on his parting advise...'it's all just a game.'

I got my first leg that day!

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