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Ask The Judge - Down under Distraction

For every issue, we ask our GSSCC Head Judge Jim Chrisp to give us some insights how he judges an IGP exercise. This issue, the exercise is Down under Distraction, the maximum number of points that can be earned in this exercise is 10.

During all BH and IGP obedience routines, two dogs share the field. One dog is working his/her way through the active obedience exercises in partnership with their handler. The other dog is in the down position on the side of the field with their handler standing at a distance.

The ideal position of the dog in the Down under Distraction exercise is sphinx pose. The distance between dog and handler needs to be at least 30 paces. At BH, IGP1 and IGP2 the handler remains in sight but with his back to the dog. An additional challenge is added at IGP3; the handler has to be out of the dog’s sight whilst the dog is down.

We asked Head Judge Jim Chrisp how this exercise is evaluated. This is his response:

“At the outset of the exercise, the handler awaits the judge’s signal to command the dog to assume the down position in IGP or to remove the leash and down in BH. The dog must execute the command promptly and remain composed as the handler departs upon the judge’s signal. Any form of handler assistance, sluggishness, misalignment, or noise incurred a minimum downgrade of half a category, contingent upon the severity of the fault.”

During the actual down the dog should remain tranquil, refrain from restlessness, such as rolling, sniffing, shuffling, or making noise. Any such faults similarly lead to a deduction of at least half a category, depending on the degree of the disturbance.

Upon the handler’s return, if the dog prematurely rises and approaches the handler, it incurs a mandatory penalty of -3 points, in addition to any other faults observed.

Furthermore, if the dog during the exercise fails to maintain its down position within a 3-meter radius, partial points can only be achieved at a mandatory cost of -5 points. Only if the dog remains in place until the dog on the field completes the subsequent exercises - heeling off leash in BH, down with recall in IGP-1, stand from walk in IGP-2, and flat retrieve in IGP-3 - can points be retained. If the dog abandons its down position before these exercises concluded, all points are forfeited, and the handler is required to remain with their leashed dog until the fieldwork concludes.

For the pick-up from the down position, the handler awaits the judge’s signal. Errors such as issuing the command prematurely, the dog moving slowly into a basic position, misalignment, or needing handler assistance results in a minimum deduction of half a category, depending on the extent of the infraction.

Finally, checking out or heeling to the start of fieldwork is only permissible upon the judge’s signal.


K9Force (2023, October). Down under Distraction.

© K9Force WDC 2023. For permission to reproduce any article in this blog, contact

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