Teacup Lessons

This week I have a couple from St. Louis here for a series of private lessons (and the relaxing vacation part as well). They’ve brought along a pack of Yorkies and so the lessons have resolved to TDAA-style course work.

The real difficulty in the TDAA is in understanding how to move well; and how to find the real estate to move at all. A course like this is bad enough in the big dog venues where many of us want to emulate the lazy handling habits of the big fast dog handlers. On a teacup course lazy inside-the-box handling will be positively deadening.

I’ll often tell my students who’ve managed to move in a particularly uninspiring manner to try again… but avoid at all costs any kind of back crossing strategy. For example:

On this course the handler makes the attack on the course with really basic fast dog handling tactics… behind and pushing. The handler might even take a long lead out to ensure that he starts the course in as lackluster a fashion as possible (black lines). Then the handler draws the dog through jump #4 and crosses behind (red lines). And finally the handler sets up to cross behind the dog on the turn from jump #6 to the collapsed tunnel at #7 (blue lines).

Okay then, if the dog requires a speed cue from the handler (and at least half of them in our sport do)… then the handler couldn’t have failed more utterly at giving that speed cue.

Truly, when the strategy is behind-and-pushing (fast dog handling)… then the handler has to slow down to allow the dog to move forward. And as the handler sets a pace that indicates nobody is in a big hurry… then the dog will be happy to take that cue.

What would it look like if you’re in a hurry? So here we have a handler doing all his movement forward-and-pulling (slow dog handling). And frankly we’re going to ignore the hysterical admonitions of all the numb-nuts in agility and do the whole opening sequence with a series of Blind Crosses.

Note that this handling plan has one more element than the previous. The handler will have to run farther and run faster. The handler will actually have to run. The Blind Cross is a racing movement… and the handler had better be prepared to win the race for it to work. And it will give such a speed cue that many dogs will improve to a remarkable extent in just the first seven obstacles of this course.

On the Home Front

I’ve put a finish to putting in my garden for the year. I’ve added a couple dozen sweet corn plants, and some cucumber and watermelon. Last week I got in a healthy bed of Vidalia onions; red potatoes; three varieties of tomatoes; and three varieties of green peppers; broccoli; and cauliflower. I’ll try to stay after the weeds and grasses this year. I’m looking forward to fresh vegetables right out of my own garden.

On Monday Marsha and I are going to pick up her new pup, a Border Collie who is half-sister to my boy Kory (they share the same sire). And as it happens, we’re going to pick up a pup from the same litter for Marsha’s sister Janice, who is retiring from her teaching job in a couple months. That will be an absolute hoot. Janice probably doesn’t know it yet… but she’s heading for a fun retirement hobby in dog agility.

I’ve been too busy to attend my blog properly. Oh, and I’m way behind on all the free Notebook copies for daily winners of my so-called “Google-proof” trivia contest. I’ll catch up within a few days I’m hoping.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What will Marsha name her new pup? The breeder names her dogs after weather systems or phenomena. WWWSD?

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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2 Responses to “Teacup Lessons”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Bud, I would probably do this course with blind crosses as you suggest, but should I post turn into the chute so that dog is on the right and will turn towards me and the next jump (8) upon exiting the chute?
    I would feel out of place on the other side of the chute, where your green handler is.

  2. Ronni Says:

    It’s not a weather system, but it is a phenomenon that grounded a good portion of the world’s air fleet…

    Marsha should name her pup after the volcano in Iceland that recently erupted. Just don’t ask me to say it or spell it! Can you imagine the fun you’d have with gate stewards trying to call the dog’s name?

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