Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 13

signals. Sometimes these are verbal and sometimes strictly body-language cues. If you cannot “show and tell” clearly what your signals are, then your dog most likely doesn’t know either. Generally, there should be a parallel connection between you and your dog’s head or shoulder. If your dog is way out ahead of you, then you should be using a combination of verbal and body cues from behind him to direct his course. If you are ahead of the dog (moving in for a front cross, for example), your connection should be even stronger for that change. If you are going to use a blind cross, there is a very brief moment where you do lose sight of the dog. During that moment your shoulders will still be telling the dog in which direction you are moving, and you will need a signal or command to tell the dog to change sides behind you. I always use both a verbal cue and a body-language signal when completing a blind cross. Since your dog has problems mostly after tunnels, set up a practice area with jumps and U-shaped tunnels. Practice working close to them while directing your dog to the less likely tunnel entrance. Use multiple types of crosses and vary your position (use rear and front crosses or just directional commands without any cross). I do not use blind crosses when close to tunnels. Not because I couldn’t, but because my dogs do drive forward to tunnels. Rather than do anything to dampen that drive, I use more obvious methods (to the dogs) to direct them. When setting these sequences up, do not scold if your dog dives behind you into the wrong side of the tunnel. Simply do not reward or praise and try again. Reward what you want repeated; ignore what you want to fade away. If your dog loves tunnels, you could reward by sending to a different tunnel. Try to figure out where you need to be and what you need to do to prevent this behavior from happening. Be aware of the unspoken signals you may be giving (body language). Work out clear communication, especially around choices the dog must make. I want my dog to drive to the obvious obstacle unless I direct him to do otherwise. To run my best course, my dog must be able to operate in handler focus and obstacle focus. The dog’s ability to change his focus frees me up to get into the best position to direct my partner on course. December 08 | Clean Run © clean run Rob Michalski From the description of your problem, it sounds as if your dog is “blind-crossing” you; that is, the dog is switching from one side of you to the other while your back is turned to him. If the dog is switching sides without permission, this behavior can be a problem. But even if you do intend to do a blind cross, this maneuver may lead to handling problems in other areas of agility. For example, if the dog is accustomed to passing through what Greg Derrett calls the “blind cross body line,” then the dog may offer wide S-type turns on front crosses or, even worse, ignore your signal for a change of side and take an off-course obstacle instead. The best way to address the problem is to go back to basics and do more shadow handling with the dog, away from the agility equipment altogether. Reward the dog often for staying in heel position at both your left and right side and at both a jog and a run. Recall the dog to heel position and reward. (A recall-to-heel position is different from the obedience recall in that the handler is facing the dog’s direction of travel, not the direction where the dog is coming from.) Once you have refreshed the dog’s basic skills, you can make it tougher by spinning tightly on a single spot. Reward the dog for chasing the heel position without ducking behind you. If you spin fast enough, many Rob, who lives in Salinas, California, is a student at Power Paws Agility in San Jose and teaches his own agility classes at several locations in northern California. Rob has competed in agility for 15 years and has handled several ADCH dogs, a USDAA Top Ten Finalist, and a USDAA Grand Prix and Steeplechase Finalist. Contact him at rmichalski@scu.edu. dogs will be tempted to sneak behind the handler and pop up on the handler’s other side. If this happens, slow down the spin and reward the dog when he resists temptation. Remember to practice with the dog on both your left and right side. Another good way to proof the dog’s ability to maintain his position on one side of the handler is to do a lot of shadow handling around a single obstacle. Pick an obstacle that the dog likes to perform, like a jump or a tunnel, and run very tight circles (well, I guess they would really be ovals) around the obstacle. The obstacle is in the center of the oval, and the handler runs between the obstacle and the dog. Reward the dog for staying close to heel position without ever performing the obstacle. As you run past the opening of the tunnel or the face of the jump, the dog will be tempted to duck behind you to take the obstacle. As with the tight spins described above, if the dog has trouble resisting the obstacle, slow down and reward the dog when he maintains his position at heel. In addition to these steps, you can specifically work on the dog’s not ducking behind you as he exits the tunnel. Send the dog into one end of the tunnel, run past the other end of the tunnel, let him see you as you run past, and recall him to heel position. 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run Magazine - December 2008

Clean Run Magazine - December 2008
Think Outside the Box (and the Ring)
Editorializing: Just One More Run
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Trainer’s Forum
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Treadmill Walking
Handling Your Dog in Awesome Style, Part 9: Common Sequences
Agility Class Etiquette
K9 Kudos: Seeing Spots
Foundation Fundamentals: Flatwork Skills Wrap-up
So You Want to Raise an Agility Star
Canine Health Care: FAQs
Conquering Ring Nerves: Feeling Overwhelmed by Big Goals?
Retraining Agility Skills
Skill of the Month
Walking the Course…Backward?
Agility Organization Update
Using Silent Running to Improve Body Language
Letter to the Editor
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - December 2008
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 3
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Editorializing: Just One More Run
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 11
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 14
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Treadmill Walking
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 17
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 18
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Handling Your Dog in Awesome Style, Part 9: Common Sequences
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 25
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 26
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 29
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Agility Class Etiquette
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 32
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 33
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 36
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 38
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 39
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - K9 Kudos: Seeing Spots
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 43
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Flatwork Skills Wrap-up
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 46
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 49
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 50
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - So You Want to Raise an Agility Star
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 56
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Canine Health Care: FAQs
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Conquering Ring Nerves: Feeling Overwhelmed by Big Goals?
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 62
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 63
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Retraining Agility Skills
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 69
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Walking the Course…Backward?
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 73
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 74
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Agility Organization Update
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 77
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Using Silent Running to Improve Body Language
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 81
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 84
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