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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Class Course - Feb 25, 2009

This course is a take-off from an exercise from the Stacy Peardot-Goudy Novice seminar Ru & I attended.  The main difference from Stacy's course was that she had another tunnel approximately where the #10 & #11 jumps are located.

The biggest challenges were:
1) #3 to #4 (people didn't drive down to the tunnel exit to pick up their dog - remember, where the dog's head goes, the rest of the body will follow. Get the dog's head turned toward the #4 jump, don't assume they're going to automatically turn into you especially since they see the dog-walk as they exit the tunnel.

2) #13, #14 & #15 - If handlers met the dog at the end of the #13 tunnel, they were behind for the straight line of jumps coming next on the course which resulted in dogs curling in toward the a-frame.  

The key to this sequence is to push the dog into the tunnel, stay on the right side of the jumps (dog on left), get yourself to the landing side of #14 while keeping your left lead hand pointed over the jump and at the dog (so you're looking over your shoulder) and to make eye contact with your dog as they came out of the tunnel - these two strong signals are a clear indicator to the dog of your expected path). As the dog moves toward the #14 jump, the handler can execute a front cross between #14 & #15 and move down the line toward #16.

3) The next challenging place on the course was #18 - #20.  An earlier front cross before the a-frame should easily put the handler on the other side of the a-frame (dog now on left) and ahead of the dog.  By being ahead of the dog at the #19 jump, the handler can cue an "early" (code word for TIMELY) front cross prior to the dog taking off for the jump and by using the right hand, which indicates the side the handler will be picking the dog up on upon completion of the course.  

Immediately after picking the dog up on the right, the handler must FULLY turn to the left and commit their movement to the tunnel so the dog isn't left wondering if they're going back up the a-frame of to another obstacle on the way to the tunnel.

This last sequence is a true test as to what our shoulders are saying.

4) Last, but not least, handlers need to drive down to the end of the weave poles, especially since the poles are heading toward a wall.  When heading into a wall, dogs tend to pull-up and handlers can't afford to do the same.

Overall, this course was run best when handlers chose to be SILENT rather than racing to throw out verbal command after verbal command.  Running the course using mainly body language allows handlers to focus on the task & skill needed in the moment since this was a fast moving course that required handling.  Verbal "here's" and "come" wasn't going to cut it on this one because there were so many options and so much real estate to cover between obstacle #1 - #22.

Give this course a try and see how it runs for you.  Remember the points mentioned above and thank you Stacy for a wonderful course with a ton of exercises.

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