Clean Run - August 2012 - (Page 10)

© JUkkA PATYnEn Highway of Agility By Susan Salo The Information The passing of information from handler to dog is primarily given in a nonverbal way, with the main characteristic being motion. We spend a great deal of time teaching our dogs about our positional cues, we learn how far or how close we need to come to an obstacle to ensure that our dog will take the obstacle, yet I am constantly amazed at how little time is spent actually understanding or, in many cases, cleaning up the language of our motion. Animals read and understand every subtle nuance of body language we present, but many handlers are totally unaware of what their bodies are doing once in motion; for example, do we use maximum power signals to encourage our dogs to come forward and produce a longer, stronger stride? If we are using our arms and legs while running to gather as much speed as we can, our dogs clearly respond in kind. If we are using short, choppy steps, our dogs shorten their stride and produce frenetic motion rather than long, fluid strides. To maximize the effort of our dogs’ performances we need to be more mindful of what our body language is telling our dogs. This takes time and practice at slower speeds prior to it becoming effortless for us at speed. I have seen many handlers whom, for whatever reason, have difficulty moving at speed or with fluidity so they direct their dogs and don’t even attempt to run. Often this is actually of benefit to the dog (much like herding) since these handlers allow the dog to work with considerable freedom and focus. These handlers 10 also do not tend to be in their dog’s path. We then have the very athletic handlers who can move well and with speed, which is a real thrill ride for their dogs. These handlers also tend to be very aware of their own bodies and have good reflexes, which keeps them reactive to their dogs. Most of these handlers have a sports background and are very aware of their own movement. Then in the middle we have many people for whom agility is the first sport that has appealed to them. How then do they pass along information to their dogs while moving? All dogs have a very clear understanding of acceleration and of deceleration. They also keenly understand that a pronounced weight shift from the handler indicates a directional change. The dog reads our body language instantly since that is largely how a pack of dogs will work together. When you are handling your dog, you become a pack of two. It becomes our responsibility as handlers to say only what we mean to say physically, and make sure our motion is as correct as we can make it. This means working on ourselves to not flap Clean Run | August 12

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - August 2012

Clean Run - August 2012
Editorializing: On Insanity
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
The Information Highway of Agility
Analyze This!
Footwork for Agility: Rear Crosses
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: The Bark Stops Here
Knowledge Equals Speed: Start-line Positioning & Lead-outs
Waiting for Your Turn in Agility Class
Agility Mind Gym: The Competition Mindset—Creating Power and Flow
Building Blocks: Weave Entries at Speed
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
Seesaw Training: The Bang Game and the Pre-Bang Game
But He’s Perfect at Home

Clean Run - August 2012