Posted on 07/28/10 14 Comments

Thanks for your patience everyone as we had some maintenance done here on the blog. I don’t know or pretend to understand the geekdom behind the scenes world, I am just grateful for Jason taking care of us all.

And speaking of technicalities we just finished a three day workshop with an FCI judge from Holland. I met Will-Alexander Kelders when I was teaching in Italy and he was judging their EO team tryouts. We corresponded and I invited him here to set up 3 days of European courses and not necessarily help us with our handling but observe our dogs’ responses to our handling.

Feature, Encore & I posing for our CKC ATC Team Picture.

The first day was a bit tense as he tried to get me to do pre-cued spinning blind crosses to tighten turns:) But after we all got to know each other a bit better the workshop went just as I had hoped. We ran 23 courses in 3 days! All except 4 were courses from the Judges we will be seeing at the FCI World Championships in September.

The big take away point for everyone I think was that the handlers here do not stay as focused and connected with their dogs as we should be. Now this seems a bit strange coming from a man that loves to blind cross but it certainly was great advise! I wish there was a pill both to give to students and to take myself for the times when my own focus drifts!

Try it the next time you take your agility dog for a handling spin. Run a sequence knowing exactly where your dog’s eyes are looking throughout the entire run.

Today as Lynda Orton-Hill sits across from me working on the membership course I am so grateful for the amazing team I have working behind the scenes to make this course brilliant for all!


  1. says:
    Monday, November 25, 2013 at 6:13pm

    Thnks for a marvelous posting! I trulyy enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.
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    back from now on. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great work, have a nice evening!


  2. Claire says:
    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 5:34pm

    Do you have any video of the workshop?

    One thing that has struck me in watching European competition is how variable the handling is from one person to the next: I think I even saw one top-ranking competitor whom I SWEAR ran most of the course backwards!

    Lots of multiple cueing as well, both verbal and physical, and much arm waving… or at weast that is how it seemed to me!


  3. George Gill says:
    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 2:10pm

    Unable to find my Bonus games anywhere. Help!


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 2:22pm

      Help is on the way George!


  4. Karey Grisdale says:
    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 10:37am

    What a great picture of you and the girls!!!!!


  5. veronica says:
    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 5:05am

    I agree with Trudie’s comment.Just curious to know what the differences are too.
    I ran my young novice dog at the weekend and gained a first place ( so happy!!) The first words I said when leaving the trial ring was to chalk this one up to Susan Garretts handling/training methods.
    The next day was heading for a repeat performace except I poorly timed a rear cross which led to pulling the dog away from the jump resulting in 1 fault.So no Qualifing score.
    The beauty is I know exactly what I did wrong.
    Thanks to “success with one jump”I need to do some more practice here.
    Thanks again Susan.Great teaching DVD.


  6. one of those laura's says:
    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 1:33am

    Susan Garrett, I am not even exactly sure what a pre-cued spinning blind cross is, but I am pretty sure that it is not sanctioned by my dog agility boyfriend Robert Downey Jr.’s handling system.

    What is the etiquette used in a situation like this when you would like to have lovely manners, but at the same time politely decline something that you think is immoral?


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 7:21am

      Laura you shouldn’t have read that! Followers of the system mustn’t even look directly at such things unless you are wearing the special glasses that deflects all penetrating thoughts!:) My manners as an upstanding Canadian hostess were tested the first morning with Alexander. I am not sure that I did not cross the good hostess boundary. I did my best to be patient when I explained how our leader; RDJ (or Greg as we like to call him here in Canada) would not be happy with me even entertaining such conversations. Alexander was very tolerant with the wishes of each individual and taught his fancy spins to those that were interested and coached the rest of us as by explaining what he was observing from the dogs in response to our GD handling.


  7. Trudie says:
    Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 2:56pm

    Interesting! If you ever have the time to write more on this, I’d like to know, what are European dogs responding to in handling that your dogs are not? What accounts for the observation that European handlers stay more focused and connected?


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 7:23am

      Trudie and Veronica it is not that the dogs in Europe respond differently it is just that we has handlers tend to turn away from our dogs more and just trust them to follow. That is never a good habit to get in to for anyone regardless of the system you are running in!


      • julie says:
        Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 2:14pm

        LOL, this is just too funny! πŸ™‚
        I am European, and in my country, right at this moment -as a reaction to the European Open- there’s a big discussion going on. The general tendency in this discussion is the exact opposite of what you said: how we loose precious seconds, because we stay too connected to our dogs, in stead of allowing them to trust us on verbal and body cues (and trusting them of course to follow us or our cues). That we should leave the dogs more “alone” on the field, in stead of trying to be with them so much.
        I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. πŸ˜‰

      • Susan says:
        Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 2:22pm

        Really that IS too funny Julie. I guess the secret is BALANCE!

      • Inge says:
        Friday, July 30, 2010 at 7:49am

        Hi Susan,

        I’m reading your blog for a while now and really enjoy it! This is the first time I reply. I suppose I’m following the same discussion as Julie is and it is really funny, yes! For me it is a matter of “training dogs” versus “trying to fix everything with handling”. You teach your dogs “agility excercises”, in Belgium (where the discussion is ongoing)), people focus on handling and running and to my point of view do not “train” their dogs well enough. Performance on contacts and weaves are still depending on the position of the handler. That’s why it is so important not to lose contact! The dogs can not complete an obstacle without the handler being in the correct position. Handlers still tend to look for “excuses”. “Oh but you turned away after the contact, that’s why the dog missed”. Must sound like old school to you! My husband and I are turning away from this. Our youngest dog, Nimble, knows what a contact means, indepedently of where we are, or what we do. She knows that a weave only ends when she passed the last pole. We still have a lot of work on jumps though, she is still to sensitive to our handling, and also on proofing the weaves even more. But at least we “see” the work. That’s something we miss in a lot of handlers overhere. They do not seem to be ‘open’ for changes and improvements.
        And then I read that you are still “open” for recommendations from other people. Amazing! πŸ˜‰

        I believe focus and contact is always important but your focus can differ from ours. Because you KNOW your dogs will perform well on the obstacles so you can focus on your position to prepare the angle to the next obstacle. While Belgian handlers need to focus on their position AND the dog’s position on all obstacles. To me that’s an obvious disadvantage!

      • julie says:
        Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 5:52am

        Hi Inge,

        It is indeed the same discussion. Glad you managed to explain it a whole lot better than I did! πŸ™‚

        julie (from the small brown one, and thΓ© Hasse ;))

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