Agility Handling 101

I persist with my novice students teaching fundamental problem solving skills that will enhance their ability to gracefully answer interesting handling riddles. The sequence below isn’t really a novice sequence; but the exercise is fundamental.

We always begin with the entertainment round. So you can appreciate the promise of entertainment: consider the novice handler who will embark on a zigging and zagging sequence like this while tracking along on the same side of his dog without so much as a thought to changing sides. You don’t really know whether to laugh, or to cry.

The dog turns most naturally towards the handler. So the intrepid handler will endeavor to always be on the turning side of the course.

This sequence turns to the right, and then to the left, and then again subtly to the right. How does the handler fulfill his destiny to be the “intrepid handler”?

This is a wonderful exercise for a simple Front Cross. And aside from the discussion of the placement of the handler’s path relative to the dog’s path, and the analysis of lines that might go into the teaching… it’s a wonderful opportunity to actually talk about the mechanics of the simple Front Cross (we might even squeeze in a Blind Cross or two for anyone whose brain is going to explode from the complicated counter-rotation pirouette of the Cross).

Note too that the sequence holds some advanced features, like the depressed approach to the #3 jump; and the presentation of the wrong course option tunnel more surely in the dog’s path than the approach to the #5 pipe tunnel.

Even the handler who disdains a lead-out should follow the basic principle that he should work the side of the turn. This drawing shows a Back Crossing strategy with the handler showing an abrupt change of sides behind his dog on the approach to jump #3, and then again at the #4 tire.

Note that promptly after each Cross the handler will give pressure of movement to agree with the intended object of the dog’s focus.

Nearly overlooked in this discussion is the approach to the table, ending the exercise. The dog tends to work in a path parallel to the handler’s path. If the handler makes the dismount of the dogwalk with dog-on-left and has to be so close as to be sitting on the dog’s head, then the handler’s path getting by the #7 jump more favors a wrong course approach to jump #1 than it does an approach to the table. Further, a dog ahead of the handler tends to curl back to the handler’s position. So this is a very tough approach for the fast dog handler.

A Brief Period Away ~ Discussion

A couple days ago I was doing my “I bane gone so long” lament. Christine Stephansen left a comment on that post:

I wonder where you are when you don’t post. Bet you didn’t know you had such a following! Glad you are caught up.

Not really caught up. Backsliding is more like it.

But don’t you know, sometimes I wonder while I’m out there weed-whacking, or vacuuming the training building how I could possibly document the exhilaration of mind-numbing simple labor into an item of interest for those that read my blog. This past week I spent a few hours cutting (recycling) wood and nailing it up as a new section of wainscot in the training building. 2.2 sections to go (for those of you keeping score).

I know… I should publish a photo of me on the “garden tractor.” One picture obscures a thousand words.

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The Country Dream web store is up and running. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

2 Responses to “Agility Handling 101”

  1. Erica Says:

    It’s not so much distain for the FC as seeking solace and self-preservation in the RC, though I must admit I’m throwing in considerably more FCs these days, much to my own amusement and that of those who witness my ineptitude.

  2. Christine Stephansen Says:

    It really is impossible to ever be caught up. There is always something to do…

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