Clean Run - June 2011 - (Page 56)

Challenges at cr central By Annie Pyle More runs are disqualified from the dog’s misreading his path rather than incorrectly performing any individual obstacle. Refusals, off-courses, and knocked bars happen more often than missed contacts or incorrect weave pole entries. (It could be argued a knocked bar is a failure to perform an individual obstacle, but the bar usually falls because of a handling error as opposed to the dog not jumping high enough.) The dog’s path through a course is primarily defined by the direction and quality of the handler’s motion. The handler’s position or location on course, arm changes, and verbal cues all have secondary or supporting roles. So the question for the agility Zen master then becomes: “What happens when the obstacle is in my path?” Handler restrictions or constraints are challenges judges place in courses that force handlers to work at a greater distance from the dog. The first task for the handler is to actually recognize the restriction within a course. Some path restrictions are obvious; others are less conspicuous. A handler constraint involving a contact obstacle as seen in the second drill presents an obvious test of the handler’s distance skills. The dogwalk or A-frame can function as a roadblock, testing independent obstacle and distance handling skills. Conversely, handler restrictions placed in the middle of Jumpers sequences can be well-camouflaged by judges. These challenges often go unnoticed by the handler and not until the dog has gone off course is it apparent what the judge masterminded. The latter are my favorite. They are often unexpected and really test the handlers’ observational skills and understanding of their dog’s path. Although both types of restrictions may require layering an obstacle, most judges provide a way to navigate through a restriction. The handler must measure cost versus benefit when choosing whether or not to layer an obstacle in a sequence. Layering a jump can create fallout for serpentine handling. If the handler decides not to layer a jump then she must take responsibility for potentially changing the dog’s path with incorrect motion cues. Additional handling cues are According to a Zen proverb, “The obstacle is the path.” It is definitely a giant philosophical leap from contemplating life’s path to dog agility. But the same metaphor also makes a discerning observation on the fundamental challenge faced by handlers in agility: defining a path to the dog. he dog’s path through a course is primarily defined by the direction and quality of the handler’s motion. The handler’s position or location on course, arm changes, and verbal cues all have secondary or supporting roles. T 56 Clean Run | June 11

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

Clean Run - June 2011
Editorializing: When Did Agility Become About Looks?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Building and Balancing Handler and Obstacle Focus, Part 3
Sharpening Your Snooker Skill: Teach Your Dog to Bypass Obstacles
Lameness in Agility Dogs
Confessions of a Gambling Addict, Part 2: Planning the Opening
AKC’s New Kid on the Block: Time 2 Beat
Challenges for Rising Stars
Intervertebral Disc Disease in the Canine Athlete
Challenges at CR Central
FOCUS and Impulse-control Classes: Week 2
Ready, Set, Trial! Walk, then Run
Tips for Training Running Contacts, Part 1
When is Good Enough Enough?
Agility Bloopers

Clean Run - June 2011

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