In the last blog , i talked about being a consistent handler to increase your dog's confidence and speed. And i likened it to being a Sat Nav. You need to be proactive, not reactive.
Being your dogs Sat Nav is how we explain what the handlers role is when running an agility course. So that means the handler needs to give the dog clear, concise instructions in advance of them needing it. We believe that you can cue your dog for an obstacle the moment it has committed to the obstacle prior to it. This takes the pressure off you as a handler to get your timing right - you can tell your dog it is turning 5 metres away from a jump so it has ample time to sort its stride out, collect and turn tightly. Or alternatively tell it to drive long and hard so it knows it can bounce jump if necessary. You do not need perfect timing, or to be ahead of your dog to do this. But you do need to have trained your dog to understand its cues.
So when someone says one of the following:
“He turns wide”
“He is so slow”
“he knocks poles”
“he pulled off because i told him too early”
“he won’t work away from me”
I always start by looking at their command system and how they use it.
Generally they yell a verbal too late, or they don’t give the dog any advance notice, or they are rushing to get in a front cross…… And the dog has little understanding of how to stride, turn or drive because of it. At best the above things happen, at worst the dog gets injured trying to turn in the air.
The phrase that crops up time and time again in this situation?
There is no such thing as an early command, only late.
This means you don't need to move quickly, just think quickly.
Foundation training is the key to all the above problems and all of them are solved by the same exercises. This is the basis for our Jump Clinic and why it is so important. Recently we have moved this on to the next level by focussing even more on our dogs commitment points and aiming to improve these using ‘show and go’ games based on Silvia Trkmans Foundation ideas.
So, would you trust yourself as a Sat Nav in a fast car? Or would you drive cautiously? Be honest... And then consider how you can improve this for your dog :-)