General Training

Tight Turns

If your dog has a lot of trouble dealing with unexpected turns in competition, use Linda Mecklenburg's trick of setting up the dog's approach so that the turns aren't really unexpected.

For example, suppose you have a sequence which is jump, jump, sharp left, jump. Only there's a tunnel right after the first two jumps, so the "obvious" sequence to the dog is "jump, jump, tunnel". A true call-off would be running with the dog on the right, for example, over the first two jumps and suddenly veering left, yelling "come", and hoping the dog turned when you did. This could be both frustrating and confusing for the dog and often is a perfect situation for the dog to quit. Instead, you could incorporate a change of sides, so that you start on the dog's right (dog on your left) and cross before or after the second jump or, if possible, in front of the second jump. That way, it becomes crystal clear to the dog which is the correct next obstacle. You have in effect taken a "choppy" course and made it smoother because your body language makes it clearer to the dog.

Look for these opportunities. In the vast majority of cases you can take an apparently very "choppy" course and make it flow very nicely just by handling. One can train "call-offs" it's very useful in Snooker, or when you make a mistake. But try to smooth out the course wherever possible.
(Kate Eaton)


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