Do Agility Dogs Really Understand Verbal Cues & A New Home for Handling360!
Today was meant to be the day we released video four in our latest Handling360 video series…but alas…things didn’t go as planned. We set our sights (and sites) on tomorrow. I would personally like to thank you for your patience and promise video four will be worth the wait!
I did say that for the first time in 13 months, registrations for Handling360 would be opening today…so here is a sneak peek. A few months ago we set off to “renovate” our Handling360 website. We polled our students and got some amazing feedback. Renovations were in full swing and then I decided… why renovate… lets just re-create. So we do have a brand new website… I can’t wait for our entire community to see it. The requests came in from our students and the Say Yes team did everything in their power to make each one of them come true.
Here is a screen capture of our “Course Library.”
The site is fully mobile responsive so working on your iPad or iPhone now is a breeze. While in the library if you hover over a course icon a description will appear for you
…click on the course you want, and all of the lessons from that course appears. See how once you’ve marked a lesson complete, it turns blue ready for you to “review” and any lessons you haven’t taken yet are still in red, making it easier for you to see where you left off.
You can clearly see the last lessons you worked on and the progress bar along the top indicates how far along you are in that particular course. And you’ll notice below the progress bar you can just go to your next lesson or last lesson from within the lesson you are working in! How COOL is that!
Okay, I didn’t write the blog post in order to be a “tour guide” but I had to do a little reveal…couldn’t resist.
In video four of our current free series, I demonstrate two more predictive verbal cues that we teach in Handling360. So here’s a little sneak peek of those two cues and a few more. I’ve said it many times that I believe dog agility is more fun when the dog knows where to go before the handler tells him…and the best way to accomplish that is with predictive cues.
Sometimes I get push back about the verbal cues we use. There is the belief that agility dogs function best when you only use your body, motion or position to cue what you want. Some even believe that an agility dog running flat out towards something is not going to “listen” to verbal cues, that ”drive” will kick in and the dog will do what he wants. Sounds reasonable…even when I type it.
Here is what I know: I know for sure that an agility dog will NOT listen to any verbal cue he has not been trained to WANT to listen to. I guess that’s why they call it “dog training.” Think about this, would a puppy with no training at all, come back the first time you called if it was in the midst of chasing a bunny?
But does that mean a puppy can’t be inspired aka “trained” to want to come back when called when chasing a bunny?
Of course, this is the same for our agility dogs. Just like training a recall, the training of predictive verbal cues is very strategic. And the cool thing is it actually trains your dog to listen to your body cues better as well. It is like one set of cues “backs up” the other!
So since I did promise you “something” today I thought it would be fun to play this game…
Here are seven pictures. See if you can “match” the cued response I am asking Swagger to perform based on what I am doing in the picture. I did give you two that were pretty easy. For predictive verbals cues to be most effective in agility, the dog must know what to do without the aid of your body tipping him off. Which picture do you think represents each of these cues.
I actually didn’t shoot this video meaning to be THIS critical of the nuances of my movement. Maybe next time I should do this from a chair to really proof Swagger’s understanding!
The key to handling is, I rarely if ever handle my dogs without the assistance of my physical cues, although I do have students who do. I am blessed with the fact that I still can “run” as a handler …although some would disagree that what I am doing is actually the same gait that some like Lisa Frick is using to handle her agility dogs :).
When you combine the strength of my dogs’ understanding of my physical handling cues with that of my verbal cues, you can see how much easier the process gets for dogs to be able to know where to go before I actually tell them!
Here is a video that I lifted those screen images from so you can see those cues in action.
If you want to confirm the pictures are what I say you can just check the time codes on the bottom of each picture. 🙂
1. A cue that means take the jump with a collected your stride and turn tightly back towards me = Picture 6
2. A a cue that means take the jump and with less collection, turn towards the handler, and take the next jump you see in your path = Picture 3.
3. A cue that means take the jump with a collected stride and turn tightly AWAY from me = Picture 7
4. A cue that means take the jump with an extended stride and power off towards what you see next = Picture 1
5. A cue that means take the jump but then come off of the line of what you see next = Picture 4.
6. A cue that means come off of the most obvious side of the jump you see and drive away from me to the back side and take the jump =Picture 2.
7. A cue that means threadle off of the most obvious side of the jump you see and drive towards me, in preparation for taking the jump from the back side = Picture 5.
So, how did you do matching the pictures? Were there any physical signs by me that helped you? Clear to see that Swagger sure knows what my verbal cues will be predicting for him isn’t it!
Video four in our series WILL be out tomorrow. In closing let me just say that I love to produce these video series and share my knowledge with the entire dog-loving world. However, this series really is a part of our Handling360 program. As a reminder, public access to our current video series will come to an end soon. If you feel your agility handling can benefit from this four-part series, click this link now to watch the first three episodes while access is still open to all.
Today I am grateful for my amazing team that I get to work with every day. I love that they are as dedicated as I am to the vision of helping dog owners worldwide be better understood by their owners. Love that I get to work with these 9 amazing people every day!