Clean Run - September 2011 - (Page 29)

Choosing the Most Efficient Path for Your Dog: Decision Making By Laura Manchester-Derrett I was at a trial recently where two of my students who do not have Border Collies placed 1st and 2nd in the class, running against dogs that physically are faster than their dogs. Why did they do so well? No, the other dogs did not “crash and burn.” There were two decisions on the course about whether to turn the dogs left or right at a particular obstacle. These two handlers chose to take their dogs the shorter distance regardless of the traps that faced them. The rest of the competitors chose the other direction because it was “safer.” Have you ever finished a course with what you thought was a nice and efficient clear round only to find when you checked on your time that it was slower than you expected? It could be that you unknowingly chose to take your dog on a longer path than necessary, which cost you time. In the Greg Derrett system of handling one of our main aims is to present our dogs with the most efficient path on course, which decision making helps us to achieve. Choosing the fastest turn at an obstacle when faced with a choice is important when you care about making a certain time, or you are interested in winning the class.You may be a competitor who consistently gets clear rounds, but often you do not make course time. Or, you may be a competitor who is running at a national final and you are going for the win. In either case, decision making is crucial. Here we will discuss the basic factors involved in calculating the most efficient path for the dog when you have the choice of turning the dog left or right at an obstacle. To begin, let’s talk about eliminating a couple of criteria on which many comSeptember 11 | Clean Run petitors solely base their decisions: 1) How do I handle this? 2) What about that off-course trap? If you are trying to win the class and you only base your decision on those two points and the choice you make happens to be the slower path, chances are there will be a competitor who will figure out a way to handle the quicker path. Therefore, when finding the theoretical fastest direction to take, do not bring handling and traps into the equation. There are three factors to consider in the equation for discovering the fastest route. We will break down these factors individually, isolating each of them as we run through the equation. for examples since most decisions tend to occur on jumps.) To answer this question, simply stand at the takeoff point for the obstacle before, facing toward the obstacle in question (extend your arm and point to it if necessary). This will literally point out the angle from which the dog is approaching the obstacle. You’ve got your answer. For example, in Figure 1 jump #13 is where you need to make a decision about turning left or right. So you would stand on the takeoff side of jump #12. 1 13 12 #1: Where is the dog coming from? The first factor that comes into play is to ask yourself from which direction the dog is approaching the obstacle at which he could be turned left or right to continue to the next obstacle in sequence. When determining this, we look at the theoretical line the dog should use to approach the obstacle where the dog is turning— the decision obstacle. (We’ll use jumps 14 11 15 Factor 1: Where is the dog is coming from? What is his angle of approach? Here a left turn at #13 wins out over a right turn. 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - September 2011

Clean Run - September 2011
Editorializing: When a “Lifetime” Only Means Five Years
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Who’s Premack and What Does He Have to Do with My Start Lines?
Power Paws Drills: Front Side, Back Side
Improving Your Sports Vision, Part 1
Choosing the Most Efficient Path for Your Dog: Decision Making
Dylan’s Story
Teaching FOCUS and Impulse-control Classes: Week 5
Ready, Set, Trial! Should You Move Up?
Agility Bloopers
Training to Your Weakness: Exercises for Dogs with a Straight Front
Building and Balancing Handler and Obstacle Focus, Part 6
Great Expectations
Agility Games to Play with Puppies
Challenges for Rising Stars: Snooker Expanded
Agility Defined by Me

Clean Run - September 2011