When teaching movement I use the rule of 5,000: Anything you do 5,000 times… you own it. This is probably true of other matters of discipline as well. The following sequences come from a private lesson I did this evening with one of my hard-working students. Mostly this was a study in how the dog understands direction based on the set of the handler’s feet.
This is a simple concept really. The handler wants to send the dog onto the pipe tunnel while the dogwalk is clearly an enticement. The handler might rely on using a clear verbal command and might even try to get some mileage out of flapping his arms. But the key to this is probably for the handler to face in the direction the dog should move.
You’ll note at the top of the drawing is a bit of text that says “clock” and another that says “door”. So… I ask my student to face the clock when sending the dog on to the pipe tunnel. Note that facing is largely a thing that begins with the placement of the feet; both the left foot and more importantly (with dog on left) the right foot.
In this sequence we want the dogwalk. In this case I ask my student to face the door. While I’ve drawn a “containment” line; I’m quick to point out that distance work doesn’t have much to do with standing still. The dog comes out of the collapsed tunnel with only a moment to get movement and directional cues from the handler. When the dog passes the handler you’ll have to admit that the end of the dog with no eyes is the wrong end to show good directional cues.
Again, the handler must demonstrate the turn before the dog slips past. Timing is everything.
Something More Advanced
If you want to have a little fun with the sequence, finish with a wrap out of the tunnel up onto the dogwalk. Again there are likely important features of the handler’s movement that will help sell the transition to the dog. For example… after getting the dog into the pipe tunnel the handler might take a couple back steps and then apply pressure back towards the dogwalk as the dog makes his exit. Some dogs might only need for the handler to strike a path down the length of the dogwalk and parallel to it.
This is probably a bit more advanced. It’s something I practice with my students with more up close handling. But distance handling is only a reflection of good up close handling. The dog turns when the handler turns,not where the handler turns.
Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training ~ Issue #0 ~ August 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: http://countrydream.wordpress.com/web-store/ . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special00” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.