Swinging With The Dog

There have been a few questions since I posted my National’s standard runs about turning my dog away from me on the contacts. It occurred when my dog raced up the dogwalk on my left arm and had to turn away from me into a tunnel.

Running in Greg Derrett’s handling system we do not “flick” our dogs. This means there is never a time we use a body pressure or an arm flick to get our dog’s to turn away from us. A serpentine may give that appearance but in fact you are creating two turns with your two arm changes which makes the approach to the next obstacle a straight one. Greg affectionately refers to a dog that turns away from his handler’s reinforcement zone (the area around the front of the handler by Greg’s definition, the area at the handler’s hip by mine) as a “mother flicker!”

I think having a verbal turn away cue is an advantage to any handler in any system as evident from some of these clips. I don’t have to be right up at the end of the tunnel to get my dogs to turn. Ideally your body is back out of the dog’s view because you don’t want to give a positional cue that means turn to me and than have the dog turn away.

In the following clips you can see the advantage of being able to hang back to better handle the rest of the course. I give the cue “swing” to my dog’s at different times depending upon if I have cued a running dogwalk or a stopped one. Yes I have taught two completely different behaviours to cue each performance on the dogwalk and no, I do not just “give my release cue early” on my stopped contact to create a running one (doing so is a one way ticket to a much slower contact performance down the road).

If you listen closely you should be able to hear me cue the “swing” to my dogs.

If I have cued a stopped dogwalk I wait until the dog has nose touched before I ask her to “swing” towards the obstacle on her other side. If I have asked the dog to perform a running dogwalk I cue the swing as she goes across the top of the dogwalk and then remind her again on the down plank. In the first clip you can see either I was late cuing the swing to Encore, or she was late reacting to it, as she started to turn the wrong way and then quickly responded and turned away as I wanted.  Nice that the dog saves your butt every now and again.

I know there will be questions so I will just say now, I teach my swing cue very much like I teach the “check, check” cue. It is all laid out in my One Jump Video.  The only difference is that I cross the dog’s line to create the turn away when I am teaching “swing.”

Today I am grateful that I have had 2 great groups in for foundation handling seminars so far this week. Hoping today’s workshop is more of the same!

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