General Training

Use of Leashes in Agility Training

In the beginner classes, teach that the handler doesn't hold the leash (or Flexi). The instructor or an experienced assistant does that. That leaves the handler free to use his or her hands and body correctly from the very start so that he/she doesn't start learning bad habits like cross-body signals. Do the assistants or instructor ever make mistakes and take down a jump or drop too far behind the dog? Sure. If a jump is knocked down usually the dog is so focused on its handler/owner that it doesn't notice, but when it does, just make it an "oops!" (same as you should do for all their mistakes) and don't make a big deal out of it. If you drop too far behind, just let go of the lead and let the dog go on. If they knock down bars or jumps, it's just the same "oops!" The best way to prevent problems when handling dogs in agility while on leash or off leash is for the instructor and/or handler to think through his or her methods and then plan out what one would do in the worse case. Having those "escape" plans already thought out helps in those rare situations that something does happen.

(Penny Winegartner)


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