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  1. In my last two blogs i have talked about handler consistency and good foundations. But sometimes, even with all the best intentions, we get to training and we don’t follow it all through.


    I once read the phrase “Train your weaknesses, compete to your strengths” and i believe this is really useful for lots of handlers to hold in their mind - something to focus on. It is so easy to be in a lesson and handle a sequence a certain way as we know thats the best way for our dog to do it. If that is you, then it is a huge positive that you know your dog so well and can predict the fastest / most accurate route for him. In competition that will give you an advantage and you must play to your strengths.


    But if you always play to your strengths, then your weaknesses will always be just that - weak. The only way to improve them is to train them, practice them, perfect them. There may come a time when your preferred option is not the best route - and you will be left thinking “if only i could do…..”. You need as many different handling options in your armoury to attack a course, not just one or two moves that you do perfectly - there will be a course one day that those perfect options won’t be enough to get you round in a competitive way.


    So with that in mind comes another catchphrase


    “Don’t compensate in training”


    If you know your dog has dodgy contacts, don’t make allowances in training - use hand signals, turn in etc - things that you don’t want to be part of your criteria, should never be part of your criteria in training. I admit in the ring, we all do occasional panic things, we are only human! But in training you need to be consistent in what you ask for, and stick to it!


    PS It isn't just contacts that people make allowances for. Analyse yourself on the following - Contacts, Weave entries, start line waits, tight turns, front crosses, rear crosses.... any type of handling manouevre that you avoid?!?!? :-)

  2. 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 :-)