Rhetorical

An interesting note to file under the Two Minute Dog Trainer is the “Ready, Set… Go!” game. It’s a thing that I do at the start line to get my dog engaged, attentive, and excited. And I will do this start-line warm-up even if I intend to do a modest lead-out. But to tell you the truth it is most useful if what I really want to do is take off running with my dog on course.

I’m sometimes remiss in showing this game when I’m out teaching in the world. And I suspect it’s because I find it so fundamental and obvious. But I guess it’s not really, given the number of handlers who will take off from their dogs with the dog unengaged and inattentive and, frankly, not terribly excited at all.

Ordinarily I might break a simple training objective into nice granular steps as though presenting a simple recipe. To tell you the truth though, this is a private game between you and your dog. All I really should say is that you should think of yourself at the starting line as the catalyst for excitement in the team. And, oh by the way, don’t allow the dog to be the one who says “Go!” in the game.

The BLT

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Humor me just a moment and I’ll describe for you an interesting movement to handle the transition from the pipe tunnel at #4 to the dogwalk at #5. What the majority of agility handlers will probably do here is draw the dog out on a right lead into a tight turning Post turn. For some dogs this is a deadening solution as the handler is giving so little movement to the solution. What I’d really like to do here is something that will lift the energy of the moment rather than depress it.

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The BLT is a combination movement. That means we take two simple movements and combine them. The first movement is a simple scooping Blind Cross. Scooping means that the handler will pull near the exit of the pipe tunnel to scoop the dog. This is mostly to preserve a bit of real estate for movement.

I’ve drawn a red X on the field as a target to indicate the direction of the handler’s movement. It’s important that the handler avoid crowding in towards the dogwalk which would ultimately deprive the dog of room for the approach to the dogwalk and may even crowd him over into the pipe tunnel.

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Having drawn the dog sufficiently along the line the handler will conduct a Tandem Turn on the flat to turn his dog away and back. Note that the handler just hoofs it the opposite direction and doesn’t dawdle and flap his arms or anything like that. The movement concurrent with the ramp helps sell his dog on the performance of the ramp and takes away the allure of the pipe tunnel.

A fascinating aspect of the BLT (Blind & Tandem) is that it is a combination that combination movement that encompasses a speed change. That means the handler makes a transition from slow dog handling (the Blind Cross) to fast dog handling (the Tandem). It is a movement that requires considerable skill and a canny sense of timing.

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at www.dogagility.org/store.

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One Response to “Rhetorical”

  1. Teresa Says:

    Thanks again Bud! Rhetorical and the BLT in print are great especially since there wasn’t and footage this time. And remember “there is no spoon”.

    All our best,

    Teresa and Lauren

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