Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 34

Cues in a System © DIANELEWISPHOTOGRAPHY.COM Consider the primary cues you use to communicate with your dog in agility. The most common cues are your voice, hand signals, shoulder direction, location (position), and motion. Your cues in a handling system are like words in a language—they can be combined to create the desired message. The same message can be successfully conveyed via different systems, but for you and your dog to understand each other well it is best to use one system and not interchange. Within a language, a single word having different meanings is confusing unless it is combined with other words. The same is true for a single cue having two different desired responses. It is impossible for your dog to tell which response is desired when the cue is used in isolation. Only when it is combined with other cues can your dog understand what the desired response is. In a handling system, it is the balance of the cues that leads to different interpretations and results in the appropriate behaviors. Even if you wanted to, it is difficult to isolate any of the cues so that your dog is cued by only one, independent of the others. Many times you may believe you are using a single cue when in fact you are inadvertently using several different cues simultaneously. Your dog may be interpreting a cue you are not even aware of. It is very common to use a specific verbal command or hand signal to cue a behavior; and your dog may respond appropriately, but as a result of some other cue, such as your motion, rather than your intended signal. It is also very common to use a specific verbal command or hand signal to cue a behavior and have your dog respond inappropriately as a result of some other cue such as your motion, rather than your intended signal. In order to be consistent with your cues, the first step is that you understand what those cues are. Consider the primary cues that a rider uses to communicate with her horse. The most common cues would be hand signals (delivered through the reins), leg signals, and “seat” (shifts of weight in the saddle). Additional cues not used by all riders might include voice and whip. There are various equestrian riding “systems” in which the emphasis of each cue has variable importance. In each system there are cues that have higher or lower priority and it is the balance of how those cues are applied that produces the desired effect. Compare the difference between a rider’s cues to go forward vs. turn, or go fast vs. slow, when riding a Thoroughbred racehorse, a dressage horse, and a Western pleasure horse. With each style of riding, the horse will understand the desired response, but the combination of cues given by the rider to obtain the responses from the horse will be different within each system. approach to an obstacle, my dog will naturally assume he should turn. Because I want my dog to give priority to my motion cue, I do not override my motion cue with a Go On command to keep him going straight. If I want him to go straight, I must go straight with forward motion. In contrast, with a more verbally oriented system I could lag behind and might indeed use a Go On verbal command to tell my dog to keep going straight and ignore my motion cues to turn. If I do so, over time I will lose my dog’s natural responsiveness to my motion and increase his dependence on verbal cues. How I choose to keep my dog going straight in each system depends on which cue I want my dog to give priority to, motion or verbal command. The priority cue is the one he will be the most responsive to. Choosing a System There is no one system that is best for all dog and handler teams. Some systems are indeed more suited to certain teams’ needs than others. Your mobility, your dog’s level of drive and speed, and the venue that you compete in, with the unique challenges of each, dictate which system might be best to use. For example, if you are competing in NADAC where the distances between the obstacles is greater and the courses have relatively fewer turns, you would probably be best served by a verbal-based system. In a system that emphasizes verbal cues, your dog learns that the verbal cues override your body language cues. Thus you don’t have to keep up with your dog and your dog will still understand where he is to go, as long as you tell him in a timely manner. If you fall behind on a straightline sequence, you can cue your dog to drive to the obstacle ahead, even though you might appear to be decelerating to your dog, by training him to Go On with a verbal command. If you are competing in AKC where the distance between obstacles is decreased and the courses have relatively more turns, you and your dog might benefit from a motion-based system. In a motion-based system, your dog is taught that the motion cues take precedence over verbal commands. If you are competing in USDAA, with its variety of challenges in the games classes, including distance handling and occasionally bypassing obstacles, you might benefit from a more balanced system where the emphasis on the different types of cues is more equal. Clean Run | March 08 the desired effect. How those cues are used in relation to one another and their order of priority is what makes one system different from the next. In general, most systems emphasize one cue over the rest. There are verbal-based systems, motion-based systems, and position-based systems. Alternatively, some systems place much higher priority on the value of shoulder direction and hand signals than others. My handling system is based on motion, location, shoulders, hand, and verbal signals in that order of priority. I like to take the body language cues that my dog is naturally responsive to without training (motion, location, shoulders) and use those to my advantage. Other systems use trained skills to override the dog’s natural tendency to cue off body language. For example, in my system, if I am decelerating on the Different Types of Systems How you prioritize your cues defines your system. Agility courses are far too complex for just five separate cues to be effective. For example, if you were limited to cues that meant forward, stop, right, left, and back up, that would not be adequate. You can solve this problem by using combinations of the cues to achieve 34

Clean Run Magazine - March 2008

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

Clean Run Magazine - March 2008
Contents
Editorializing: An Anthropologist at a Dog Show
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Give Your Dog a Running Start
On Course with Ronda Carter
Trainer’s Forum
How to Get the Most from Your Agility Classes
Foundation Fundamentals: Restrained Recalls and Chase Games
What Is a Handling System?
Pre-Agility Skills: Laying the Foundation, Part 1
Alternative Medicine for Your Canine Athlete: Navigating the Options
Agility? Deaf-initely!
When Pigs Fly: Agility Success with “Impossible” Dogs
Skill of the Month
Shelter Champs: Sadie
Spy Kids: Goals to Prepare for Competition
Distance Challenge
Focus on Recalls
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Back and Trunk Strengthening
In Cider
Letters
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - March 2008
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Contents
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Editorializing: An Anthropologist at a Dog Show
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Give Your Dog a Running Start
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 12
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 14
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 16
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 17
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - On Course with Ronda Carter
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - How to Get the Most from Your Agility Classes
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 26
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Restrained Recalls and Chase Games
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 31
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 32
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - What Is a Handling System?
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 36
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Pre-Agility Skills: Laying the Foundation, Part 1
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 39
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 42
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Alternative Medicine for Your Canine Athlete: Navigating the Options
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 45
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Agility? Deaf-initely!
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 49
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - When Pigs Fly: Agility Success with “Impossible” Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 52
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 57
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Shelter Champs: Sadie
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 62
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Spy Kids: Goals to Prepare for Competition
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 65
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 68
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Distance Challenge
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 72
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Focus on Recalls
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Back and Trunk Strengthening
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 75
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - In Cider
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 79
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Letters
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 84
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