The following is a simple numbered course that we’ll set up for our Monday night class. To tell you the complete truth, I wanted something with a lot of generous flow and not so much reliance on “international” skills. The international stuff frankly gets tedious after a while and borders on technical micro-management. And it doesn’t particularly favor the “pure for motion” dog who wants a handler running with… not a micro-manager.
I have a couple students who need an old-timey lesson from me about raw movement. I believe that movement is the most compelling directional cue that a handler can provide to his dog. And most importantly, that movement is fundamental to the dog’s motivation.
While I won’t be sharing all of our planned sequences, I’ll share a couple to give you the spirit of the training and practice.
In this sequence I will argue for a Blind Crossing strategy. The Blind Cross is a racing movement. And if the handler can inspire in his dog the joy of the race this simple sequence can be a real romp. But don’t you know, you don’t run the plan, you run the dog. So if indeed the dog is inspired by the “racing movement” there’s a very real chance that the dog will outrace the handler. And since you can’t really cross in front of the dog when you’re not actually in front of the dog, the handler needs to develop a simple extemporaneous skill… the speed change. This means that the handler transitions from slow dog handling (forward and pulling) to fast dog handling (behind and pushing).
I will save specific handling advice for my Monday night students. The lesson isn’t dictated; it is found.
We’re also going to do a share of work on contact obstacles. I personally have an ambition that my dogs will understand the unambiguous finish position on a contact obstacle. But whether a dog is expected to do a 2o2o or a running contact, a bit of practice is good practice for the diligent dog trainer.
A Word about Pick-Up Games
This is not a NDAL League game. However, the game is going to be registered with the NDAL and dogs will earn Lifetime Performance Points. All registered games become permanent artifacts and are eligible for play by any NDAL member club, at any time. A club in some faraway place could pick up this game in five years or so… and run it. And their scores would be recorded alongside the scores my students earn on this Monday next.
As a teaching tool, I could play this game again in a year… or in three. And those recorded scores can be compared and possibly reveal something interesting about the dog’s development over time.
And the really fun part of this is that NDAL records include a data field to a YouTube recording of the run. While the YouTube data is optional, the use the game as a teaching tool is considerably enhanced. At the very least the use of the game as a nostalgic reference is also enhanced.
Since I’m registering the game as an NDAL competition, I will provide the link to download the scorekeeping worksheet: HERE
Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.