Around the Tunnel

One of the most fundamental of layering exercises is the send around the tunnel. It requires the dog to have good obstacle focus and a willingness to work while the handler is at some distance.

The handler has a job to do as well… he should, first of all, provide a good approach to the first jump and then give good focus to each of the jumps around the pinwheel.

The most common error in any basic send is that the handler may not know which direction they should face. We become conditioned very early on in agility to move in a path parallel to the dog. So the flat of the handler’s shoulders creates a line that is perpendicular to the dog’s path. But in a send we really aren’t moving at all. And since we aren’t moving we cannot move in a path parallel to the dog’s path. And so the handler’s shoulders should create a line parallel to the dog’s path; and thus the handler’s pressure is against the dog’s path, pushing rather than pulling.

I believe that the foregoing discussion is about the most confusing thing I have ever written. Is it such a far stretch then to wonder why people have a hard time learning this? Maybe I should diagram the problem:

Here the handler, conditioned to face parallel to the dog’s path, is actually facing the wrong direction, and not giving any pressure of focus to the target jump.

In this illustration the handler faces the correct obstacle and gives pressure to support the dog.

Another common and real problem in distance work might be mismanagement of real estate. Especially if we are accustomed to working with the dog near at side we are hurrying to get there, hurrying to be ahead, hurrying to be in position.

What I have to tell my students, more than once by the way, is that if I’m sending the dog then I actually want the dog to be ahead. The problem with running forward is that then I’m stuck with moving badly.

In this sequence the place at which the handler is most likely to use up the available real  estate is in that transition from the #3 pipe tunnel to jump #4. Ideally I would like to send to jump #4 reserving enough real  estate that I can take a couple accelerating steps to support the dog out to jump #5 without actually crossing the plane of the #4 jump. I won’t have room to take those steps if I’ve used it all up while the dog is engaged in the performance of the pipe tunnel.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

Okay, so you guys know your dog breeds. Try this one on for size. What does the breed of chicken pictured on this greeting card have to do with the actor Peter O’Toole?

The first correct answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the April Jokers Notebook.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – April 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: http://countrydream.wordpress.com/web-store/ . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special04” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

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5 Responses to “Around the Tunnel”

  1. Erica Says:

    Andalusian (or possibly Minorca) from region in Spain near where parts of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed, and where Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha) would have called home.

  2. Kathy Says:

    That OToole was nominated for Oscar for film Venus, his co star was Jodi Wittaker, who is staring in a film directed by Joe Cornish “Attack the Block” Those are Cornish Chickens.

    • Erica Says:

      Not Cornish – Cornish have a pea comb and the birds on the card have a rose comb, but I like your logic!

  3. Adrienne Says:

    Nope, I’m clueless. lol

  4. budhouston Says:

    Okay, I win this one. This is the Black Minorca chicken, a heavy Mediterranean breed that was a special favorite of T. E. Lawrence who was played by actor Peter O’Toole in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

    Erica was oh, so close. I loved Kathy’s answer (tho it was wrong, lol). Good contest!

    Regards,
    Bud

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