Make the Second Obstacle Free

11 Feb 2010Steve Schwarz

This is a tip that is obvious but is often overlooked by agility handlers. In fact I see handlers who would benefit from this tip at every trial and in every class I attend (and teach).

Set your dog up at the start line so they are inline with and see the first and second obstacles.

I call this “Making the second obstacle free”. Many handlers set their dogs up perpendicular to the first jump even if that means the dog doesn’t face the second obstacle. Why not give yourself every possible advantage, especially for the first two obstacles?

The diagram below shows two examples. On the left is an extreme angle from my class course this past week. The diagram on the right shows a corollary situation; when the dog can’t be setup to face the second “free” obstacle. In that situation set the dog up to face the location where the handler would execute their cross.

There are some situations where this might not apply. When a V-Set is employed V-SetV-Set Handling Alternatives, if a Sling Shot start is used for a dog without a start line stay, or when the course doesn’t start with a jump. But I’d say 99% of the time it is to the handler’s advantage to set their dog up so they are inline with the second obstacle.

So when you leave your dog at the start line make sure you “Make the second obstacle free”.

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