"Add One Obstacle" Dog Agility Course Game
22 Nov 2013
I think I have Stuart Mah to thank for this fun dog agility course visualization/memorization/handling game. In what I’m calling “Add One Obstacle” or, for the nerdly amongst us, “Obstacle++” you set up a ring of your favorite obstacles. You start with one person, or the instructor, setting a sequence of 6-10 obstacles (mostly to get to the contacts with safe approaches). Have all the handlers walk the sequence.
Then before each handler runs they declare which obstacle/obstacle side they will add to the last sequence and they run the full sequence. There are no numbers/cones on the course and no re-walking of the course as obstacles are added. Each handler decides what obstacle-side/direction to add to the previously added obstacles/sides - they can go to any obstacle/side they choose.
Here’s an animated GIF showing an example of how this game might play out:
This means if you have a group of six handlers, each time you go to the line you’ll have to run the sequence you ran previously plus the five obstacles added after your last run and a new one you’ll add. It gets more interesting with a bigger group. Depending on your friends in the group, there can be some “collusion” between handlers to add obstacles on the way to an obstacle they wanted to repeat. Other handlers may try to make it harder to get to the desired obstacle or introduce more challenging sequences.
It is really good practice for remembering sequences - each time you run there are more obstacles than before. It is also good for imagining the handling without walking the course. It can help prepare you for those situations where you miss a course walk through.
The last time I did this my intermediate group got up to 27 obstacles within the class and my advanced group did 33 obstacles! I was glad they were throwing ins, multiple and back-to-back , and moving past obstacles. They liked it and handled it nicely! Love my students! Interestingly, they were doing a lot less socializing during class; they were carefully watching each other’s runs so they could get the ever changing sequence into their minds.
I was going to add a rule that no obstacles could be repeated until each obstacle was used at least once - I’ll save that for next time. You could also say all obstacle sides/directions must be done before repeating - that would be even harder and might involve more “snookering” between obstacles.
As an instructor you may need to limit the total number of obstacles. Each dog went through the (growing) sequence around 4 times. So ~90 obstacles in a hour class, a pretty good work out. None of my students reported that they or their dogs were particularly tired afterwards but you do need keep an eye on how much work is being done and ensure safe approaches to the obstacles.
So next time you are looking for a fun game to play give this one a try!