This is an ongoing series intended as homework for Canine Manners distance seminar students; March 20 and 21 2017 in Broken Arrow, OK, (and others interested in training great distance skills who might visit these pages).
In the following discussion we’ll use bits from the January 2017 Masters league course for the National Dog Agility League. It is a reasonable practice to find training opportunities in the set of the floor.
Around the Clock ~ A Progressive Sending Exercise
Everybody wants to learn distance work. The real difficulty of distance work is two-fold: a) the dog must know how to perform obstacles independent of the handler; and b) the dog needs to be taught that he has permission to work at a distance from the handler.
So we begin the day with an obstacle conditioning exercise on the tire that I call “Around the Clock”. The handler works at positions on the clock-face sending the dog to seek out the aperture and go through. Upon which the handler will mark the performance (praise or clicker) and then reward the dog. The first position is at 6:00 and then at 5:00, then at 4:00 and finally at 3:00. 3:00 o’clock is perhaps the toughest position because the dog will have to go out, give himself a square approach and the jump through.
As we work, the clock-face should expand. At first the handler works closely, represented by the white numbers; and then sends from a greater distance, represented by the black numbers.
I’ve put this exercise on a YouTube video. Though I didn’t use a tire, you can at least see the pace I set for this training.
Using Kentucky Windage in the Dead-away Send
The following illustrates a simple kind of distance challenge; send the dog away over two jumps, into a pipe tunnel, and call him back.
You’ll note in this illustration that the dog is set square to the first jump. When my students do this kind of thing, it makes the hair in my beard turn grey. And don’t you know, I have a pretty grey beard these days.
The dog should not be set square to the first jump… the dog should be set square to the course which, as you can see is off to the right.
Setting the dog up for a straight line for jumps #1 and #2 mightn’t be enough as a compelling option has been placed to the left. One of the Laws of a Dog in Motion says: “A dog forward of the handler tends to curl back to the handler’s position.”
A thoughtful handler might begin with dog on left so that the dog has nothing to curl to, on the side of the handler. That doesn’t mean the dog won’t curl… and if he did, it would certainly spoil the send. In any case, the handler had better have reliable left & right directionals to direct the dog after jump #2.
What the savvy handler will do in this case is use a bit of Kentucky Windage, leaning the shot into the wind so that the curl brings the dog to target.
You will note that in the last blog entry we showed a YouTube video of “Strategy for a Distance Handler” in the opening of the January 2017 course. In this video Marsha Houston very intentionally uses Kentucky Windage as insurance for solving the two-tunnel discrimination that opens the course:
- Another of the Laws of a Dog in Motion worth mentioning is this: “Nothing straightens the line like the certainty in the mind of a well-trained dog.” So the tendency to curl back toward the handler when the dog is ahead mightn’t be as big a risk for the superbly trained distance dogs. But I, for one, believe in insurance.
- Feel free to attend the written homework. All of these skills are documented in The Joker’s Notebook issue #0: Progressive sending (to the #2 pipe tunnel); [JN00 “Around the Clock” p 46-47; “Progressive Sending” p 59.] The send to the pipe tunnel begs that you understand the principles of Kentucky Windage; [JN00 “A Discussion of Kentucky Windage” p 63-65.]
- The problem with YouTube is that you have to download a video every time you look at it. Unfortunately the quality of the presentation is tied to the bandwidth of the download. So it can be a pain to watch a video of any size because the picture stops or stalls as the download buffer catches up. It’s downright painful, especially if you have a less than optimum internet connection. Furthermore, we mostly get charged for our use of that bandwidth. So if you want to watch a YouTube more than once, you pay for it in bandwidth every time you watch it. YouTube does not make the video resident on your computer. I use a utility called aTube Catcher (Studio Suite DsNET Corp). It is absolutely free and it’s easy to use. The link to the official site to download your own copy of aTube Catcher:
Play with the NDAL
New clubs are always welcome to join the National Dog Agility League. Preview our January courses here:
Contact us if you are interested in joining play. Getting started with the NDAL is simple.
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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 Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance apart.