Resources for Agility Course Design

course1An AgilityFusion member asks,

I have only done AKC in the past and just started CPE events… I have always thought of myself as a smart person – but it is clear that I can’t design my own course in those strategy games (such as Snookers) worth a darn. We may never get out of L2!  J Anyone have a video, book or article recommendation on how to improve in that area? At home I don’t have enough room to set up more than about 6 obstacles Thanks.  ~L. Keepper

I think I understand what you are asking.  It sounds like you are looking for not just how to design courses, but  also some strategy on how to do so.  I am posting this to the blog, because I only have some limited knowledge of resources available on this subject of course design. I will share what I have, but please, anyone else who has some suggestions, click on “comments’ in the upper right corner to add to this knowledge base of resources!

Free Online Articles:
“Achieving Balance in Course Design” by Stuart Mah
“Baseline Method of Course Building” by Dave Hanson

“Fundamentals of Course Design for Dog Agility” by Stuart Mah, Clean Run Productions
This book deals with a whole load of issues pertaining to agility course map design, including angles and approaches, flow, crossing patterns, traps, etc.  As well as how to build them from scratch (which I think is what you are asking).

Course Analysis for Agility Handlers by Stuart Mah is the second book in this series.  This is more about analyzing courses that are already handed to you, than the first one which deals more with the design aspect.  Read a Review of this book.

Websites: is a website for planned courses that you can print.  It doesn’t have a lot of classes or venues yet (other than AKC and USDAA) but it’s more courses in one place than I’ve seen yet.  You can search by Level, Class, and Judge.  Once this website catches on, more and more people will be uploading their courses.  (they are uploaded in .jpg format) The website is in German, but if you click ‘parcours’ and then on the top menu panel, a side panel will come up on the left of the screen, click on alle Parcoursplane, and from there you can click on the various links to the actual course maps. (Thanks Linda! The 14th Annual FCI World Championship is offering the courses for viewing and printing.  Try some of them out, and see your dog run the champion’s course!

Design Software: available on Clean Run, with a free 30 day download trial.  This is a software program to design your own courses.
Resource article on this software:  “Getting the Most from CRCD3” and Part 2

Door to Summer  review ?

4 Comments on “Resources for Agility Course Design

  1. I think the best advice on designing a snooker run is to remember the last two obstacles are worth 13 points. Design an opening that is short and easy so that you can finish the close because that is where you will get the most points. Granted this can be challenging, but in CPE and USDAA at the lower levels, it doesn’t matter if you win or not, just get enough points to Q. So don’t feel pressured to get 3 7’s to get the most points. I also agree that it does help to talk to others about your plan, they may see something that you don’t. The other ‘design your own’ classes (Gamblers, Jackpot, Fast, Fullhouse to name a few) — same idea, keep it simple, get your points and get out. Don’t get too fancy!

  2. I understood the question to be; how to get through Snooker in CPE, and not the basics of a red/any color etc, etc. But more on how to plan your run through the course. I can only say that CPE is the friendliest venue to run. Until you get comfortble running through it on your own tag along with someone else during the walk-throughs and get different opinions eventually you’ll pick up the best way to get you and your companion through the course! My instructor was very good at snooker (her being a judge helped) and helped us greatly so now when I go on the walk through I try and pass that wisdom on. I’ll bet you’ll find someone willing to help!

  3. I don’t run CPE, only AKC but I also have a small backyard and can never set up an entire course. What I do is split the course in 3 parts that I set up one a the time. What I also do but that is more of a pain is I take my equipment to another area, like my local school let me use there football field during off season and there is another big field close to my house where I can practice. Once in a while it’s good to do that. Also when I’m at a competition instead of watching the dogs run I watch the handler and the strategies they use.

  4. are you talking about designing courses in general or about strategies to run courses like fast classes in akc trials? with fast, a course is set up and you have so much time to get a certain amount of points. there is a ‘send’ which consists of 2 or 3 obstacles that must be completed in a certain order, but the rest of the course is up to you. if that’s the case, it’s really about knowing your dog and what they can and can’t do. my dog and i train at an agility facility and when we’re entered in those kinds of classes, there are always other people we know competing in the same class. usually we’ll all walk and come ups with a game plan and then compare notes. there’s nothing in the rules saying that you can’t collaborate with other competitors. if you’re not comfortable with that, you can always watch more experienced people and see what their strategy is. it may not work for your dog, but it will help you to see other options instead of focusing on just the one that you’ve come up with.