Sunday, March 15, 2009
Excellent Std - Pasco, WA
This was a course that I ran today in the Pasco/Kennewich, WA area at the Club's first trial.
Let me first start by saying that I plan to put this trial on my "Must Attend List" since it was so much fun, a terrific club, a wonderful site and just FUN!
Today's course was well done by the handlers that had an opportunity to run the course. Unfortunately, extreme wind gusts (40+ mph w/ 60 mph gusts) came into play around 12:30 and I wasn't able to finish the Excellent 16" class or run the 12 & 8's due to safety reasons. Bottom line, I couldn't control or ensure the safety of the wonderful & heavy duty equipment due to Mother Nature's interference.
Although I wasn't able to see all of the dogs run the course, I thought this would be a great time to talk about how our handler movements, actions, shoulder direction and support arm can affect a dog's view of the course.
Real Handler & Dog Path
On this course, I have two areas marked. The first is between obstacles #1-3. In green there is the real-time handler path and the corresponding green dog's path. As you can see, after the chute, handlers turned their shoulders 90 degrees and ran with the dog taking a parallel path to jump #2. The result, as seen in the green dog path, was that the handler's forward motion and shoulders indicated a "run forward" cue to the dog and falsely indicated that the expected path was to #11, rather than queuing a turn toward obstacle #3.
Suggested Handler & Dog Path
A suggested handler path and the corresponding dog's path is in red. Check it out on the map for a good visual and then read on as to the reasoning why....
The red path allows handlers to support all of the necessary obstacles, as well as get into place for the next sequence. In return, the dog's path is clear and efficient - no wasted yardage or off-course options.
Remember, maneuvering a course is more than just getting you and the dog from one place to the next - after all, we know there is going to be side switches and changes in direction at any given time. As a handler, your goal should be to use the side switches and direction changes to your advantage...put them in places that will give you the most bang for your buck. This means you want to try to create as many straight lines on a course as possible since straight lines give you & the dog the ability to run at full speed. Just remember that a straight line toward an off-course option is not suggested - this is where putting your side changes and change of direction in key places is important.
How to Know When to Change Your Handling Path
First, when deciding on a handling path/option or decision, it is best to look at the dog's "perfect path". A perfect path will give the dog the most success with the least amount of yardage and the least amount of off course options.
When I'm stumped as to which handling choice I should take, I'll walk the dog's path and decide where my "handler" (i.e. me) needs to be in order to give the necessary handling information. By walking as my dog and seeing what my dog sees (such as off-course options & the angle an obstacle needs to be handled from), it allows me as a handler to make handling choices based on the information I've determined my dog needs from me in order to run the perfect path.
Conclusion & More to Come
Hopefully the above is clear as mud
. Seriously, as questions if you're not sure what I'm referring to.
Tomorrow I'll go into more detail on creating straight lines when there is a curve. It's one of my favorite topics and deserves an entire day devoted to itself : )
I'll also talk about the 2nd red & green line later this week.