Something to chew over...
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.
The Axford Axel is a crossing
turn executed as the dog leaves the weave poles.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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
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!