Handling Systems

So, after reviewing our runs from tryouts (and really, it didn’t take much review), the thing that stands out is that Trip needs to learn when to make a tight turn over a jump, and when to let loose and fly. So I’ve gone looking for different ways to handle and communicate this information to her, and what skills she needs to learn to accomplish this.

The two things I’m looking at are two different handling systems–Linda Mecklenburg’s Awesome Paws (APHS), and Greg Derrett’s system. Now, I’m not looking to retrain my dog to a whole new system. I’m just not. I like the way I handle, and I try very hard to be clear. I think Trip understands what I’m doing. I don’t like to limit myself, and I like to have as many tricks up my sleeve as I may need. What I’m looking for is more tools so that my handling is clear to Trip when she’s supposed to put the brakes on.

So, I’ve been working on the basic recall to heel exercises, which Trip does very well with one jump. When I add speed from her with a 2nd jump, she has to work harder to figure out what we’re doing. She will sometimes blow the first repetition, but after that, you can see the little wheels in her head spinning, and she’s choosing to change her approach to the jump to allow herself to collect into heel. I’m going to stick with this stage for awhile and let her get some repetitions in, then we’ll see how we progress. I’m also working on a deceleration exercise using Trip’s name to cue the tight turn (Derrett’s “dig” command). That’s a little harder to work in my yard, because it’s hard for me to get enough room to be able to decelerate. πŸ™‚

I’m also looking at Derrett’s front cross rules. Basically the idea that you only do the cross at a change of direction, and you do it as close as possible to the next obstacle. I’ve always tried to do the second for sure, and I will try to keep that first one in mind–I’m pretty sure I try to stick to it, but I might not be as good about it as I think I am. The extra thing I will really have to think about is not to cue EARLY–the change of arm means the change of direction, so if you cue early, your dog should pull off. I know I’m guilty of this. I would like to do some doublebox drills to see if I can clean up my front crosses with Trip and help make what I want from her more clear.

What I haven’t seen yet (and maybe I just haven’t gotten there), is how do I get a tight turn if I am BEHIND my dog. Now, I like front crosses as much as the next person, andI try really hard to push myself to get where I want to be. But sometimes, it just ain’t gonna’ happen. So what am I supposed to do then? I will keep you updated as I figure it out πŸ™‚


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