Speed Changes

Just so we can agree on terminology, for the purpose of this discussion fast dog handling will be those movements that are behind the dog, and pushing; slow dog handling will be those movements that are forward of the dog, and pulling.

A speed change is making the transition from slow dog to fast dog; or from fast dog to slow dog.

For this discussion I’m going to put us on a simple serpentine:

I know a lot of you are fond of the dog training mission for the handler to stay on one side of the serpentine while the dog goes back and forth over the jumps (doing all the work). But is a handler training exercise; so I will specify handling.

The handler begins with fast dog handling, opening the sequence with a series of Tandem Turns.  Note that the Tandem Turn is a pushing movement, a form of the Back Cross, crossing behind the dog on the landing side of each jump.

At the pipe tunnel the handler will make the speed change, to slow dog handling.

Because the handler is forward of the dog he will slip change sides forward of the dog (I’m showing a Blind Cross here). What happens next really depends on the speed of the dog. This is the crucial moment of extemporaneous decision for the handler. If the handler can stay forward, then another Blind Cross would have an electric influence on the dog. However, if the dog is sliding forward the Blind Cross has “fail” written all over it. So here the handler should make a speed change.

5:00 a.m.

Okay, I’ll be unable to finish this morning the discussion I’ve started here. It strikes me that complexity of “extemporaneous” decision making is too complex for a chunk of prose wrapped in paragraph. What I’ll often tell my own students is “don’t run the plan; run the dog.” Running the dog I suppose is the test of the natural handler; handling solution is entirely based on the movement and response of the dog.

The discussion of speed changes is important enough. In my classes we’ll practice intentional speed changes so that the student/handler recognizes those important transitional moments when they happen in the dust and tumble of competition.

This morning I’m in a hotel in Columbus; and I’ll be headed soon to the BRAG USDAA trial. This is Kory’s coming out party in Columbus. I’ve really been looking forward to this. I didn’t sleep well last night; so I’ll rely on deep muscle memory rather than being particularly sharp. More later.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore.


One Response to “Speed Changes”

  1. Mary BonDurant Says:

    Good luck Kory!! Lookn fwd to hear how he does!!

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