Holiday Fans

It’s worth noting that “fan” is shorthand for “fanatic”. I do have a few fanatical students who come out on very cold nights to train in my unheated building whether or no we’re on holiday. Oh, I have a heating system to be sure… it operates on the premise that if I make my students run they’ll build up some nice internal heat and begin shedding their over-coats before we’re long into class. So… how cold could it really be?

The key in sequence design is to provide the opportunity (even the necessity) to run. And after the handler has had his two or three tries, things will heat right up. Here is what I set up last night. While it’s a fairly straight-forward sequence it does have a couple of interesting riddles.

The real challenge in the first half of this short course is the approach to the obstacle discrimination ~ tunnel under the A-frame. Clearly the dog’s path favors an approach to the wrong-course pipe tunnel. If the handler can outrun his dog (not terribly desirable, eh?); then it should be easy enough to get a Front Cross after jump #3 and still be forward of the dog to manage the approach to the A-frame after jump #6.

Of course I’m always interested in developing unique skills in my students. So this opening give us a chance to (for example) use a parallel path lead-out to gain the position forward of the dog to conduct a Front Cross even with the very fast dog. While this is an unusual handling skill in our culture… most dogs understand it completely [a dog tends to move in a path parallel to the handler’s path.]

The handler might also want to pre-cue the turn at jump #3 to get the dog curling neatly into the turn. And frankly, there’s not much help for tidying up the efficiency of the turn after jump #2 unless the dog has been taught a verbal pre-cue. The handler’s lateral distance will be an influence into the turn; but the tunnel forward (not shown in this picture) may influence the turn to go wider than necessary.

And, of course, the position forward to have a control approach to the A-frame has not been solved if the handler has to “conduct” the dog through jumps #5 and #6.

If stuck with dog on right through jumps #3 and #4 many handlers will default to a Rear Cross to get the change of sides going into the pinwheel. The dog might very well get out to jump #5. But a fairly significant percentage will get the refusal at jump #5 because an important attribute of the Rear Cross is that it creates a tightened turn. And frankly there’s not too much the handler can do to save it.

Putting the cross behind the dog on the landing side of the jump (a Tandem Turn) will create a wide sweeping turn, which is ideal for the approach to jump #5. Indeed for a certain type of dog the handler’s movement might serve to forge the dog around the #5 jump; and so the handler of this dog needs to learn to apply brakes to control the turning radius of his dog.

The Tandem Turn is also an accelerating movement. And so what the handler has done here is forge the dog forward towards the pipe tunnel with only the power of the behind (and to the right) position to influence the approach to the A-frame.

All of this discussion brings us to the perfect movement… the layered Tandem. Note that the dog must “own” the Tandem for this to be a viable option. The layered Tandem is an advanced movement deserved only by those dog trainers who do their homework.

The handler should approach the turning jump (#4 in this case) at a modest lateral distance. This bit of real estate is used for the handler to turn and take a compelling step or two to sell the change of directions. Contrary to common folklore… the Tandem is not an arm signal, but a whole body movement. [The arm signal is only a piece of it.]

The layering allows the handler a significant advantage in real estate, even when the dog is fast and leggy.

What we haven’t yet explored is what the handler will do with this advantage forward of the dog. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What is the name of the constellation pictured here?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training ~ Issue #0 ~ August 2010 available on the Country Dream 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.

8 Responses to “Holiday Fans”

  1. Judy Casserberg Says:

    Just wondering, Bud, how cold is it in your unheated building? Even running four dogs during a hour private class, I still need a heated building in Northern MN. You, Marsha and the dogs stay warm and take Christmas Day off.

  2. Betty Says:

    Cassiopeia (as viewed from the Northern Hemisphere)

  3. Jeff Says:

    The constellation is Cassiopeia.

  4. mark & ebby Says:

    It is a slow motion replay of a football deflecting off of a goalpost.

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