What I mean by this is that these guys are rock solid when it comes to their training skills and they have dogs who are enthusiastic and have fun. As an example, today's Novice Class was one of the best I've seen and these folks can do their weave poles! This gives a hint as to the skill level the Excellent handlers have and these guys can handle a good challenge with a smile.
So in their honor, I like to try different types of courses because I love watching how the course runs and how these solid teams step up to the challenge. That brings us to today's courses.
When the Excellent JWW course was setup, I was excited. There was flow, there was some skill and there was a place for the dogs to stretch out and run on their last day with me. Yeah, then we started with the large dogs and I began to wonder about the course...
The problems began almost immediately from the exit of the #3 tunnel up to the#6 weave poles. Dogs were either knocking the #4 or #5 jump, numerous dogs went into the #10 tunnel entrance and countless dogs missed the weaves all together. But the biggest issue was the triple and I soon began to wonder if I'd inadvertently created a safety hazard! Heck, I even started to consider moving the triple because it was an ugly sight at times. I also started to doubt the course and my 'nice design'.
However, once we were out of the 24" group, the 20" group and the remainder of the dogs did an incredible job. So, being the Type-A personality that I am, I watched closely and here's the conclusion I came to. Simply put, people were WAY over handling the weave entry.
First, the problem started with handlers not supporting the #4 jump and dogs were either incurring a runout or (as you can see by the red line) where dogs had to make a hard turn to the #4 jump which then put them at an awkward angle toward the #5 triple. At the same time, handlers were running up to the weaves and then slamming on the breaks. Since the dog was behind the handler, they would pull up (as well as have a bad approach to the triple) and knock or crash into it.
Second, many handlers would go flying up to the landing side of the triple and either put their right hand out or come to a slamming stop and turn into their dog. I'm absolutely convinced that several dogs were certain their handler was setting them up for a rear cross and so the dog turned to the right and went into the tunnel.
Either way, this is an exercise I'll be setting up for class in the near future. I'm really curious how my students would handle it.
The next area I would have like to work was #11 through #13. As you can see by the path in red, dogs went very wide. I'd like to see the green path for handlers which I believe would lead to the green path marked for the dog. In other words, how can this wide turn be made more efficient?
I felt it had subtle challenges, but encouraged a bit of speed as well.
The main area dogs had problems with was the #9 jump. It seemed dogs were focused straight ahead at the tunnel and simply by-passed this jump.
Oh, the other item was that for some reason, there were several fly-offs from the teeter. Since the dogs weren't available to be interviewed, I can only guess the speed in the beginning of this course had them psyched and collection and slowing down to properly perform this obstacle just didn't seem to be a priority for some
I'd say the majority of teams did a spectacular job on the courses and it was a pleasure to watch them all.
I'll be back to WI in September and I'm looking forward to it! Thanks again to the club and to all of the exhibitors, you guys rock!