How Would You Handle It? Dana Pike 20-Sep-2008

20 Sep 2008Steve Schwarz

This past week Dana Pike had a good Jumpers With Weaves style course that had a section for which we were all discussing the handling. There were a couple ways that we had handled it and we were all debating which was fastest, gave the most information to the dogs, etc. So Dana got out the stop watch and made Meeker and me run the section of interest using five different handling methods and timed them each. Here is that section of the course arranged as an exercise:

How would you handle it?

How would you handle it?

Of course I had to run each of them twice to get accurate timings… it was a good work out. So how would you handle it to get the fastest possible time? IIRC there was almost a half second difference between the fastest and our predicted fastest strategies (timing from the end of the weaves to taking jump 5).

Here are six handling approaches, the only one I didn’t try was the one on the bottom right.

In the diagram I show a Front Cross Learning the Front Cross - VideoFront Cross in most locations as that requires the handler to get out ahead of their dog and should compel the dog to race to the handler, as we are looking for the fastest way to handle the course.

As you can see by the dog’s path in the diagrams, the place where most of the dog’s time was spent was turning around jump 3. All the handling methods where the handler moved in toward jump 3 tended to provide the dog with more forward/extension cues than the dog really needed. The dogs didn’t actually think the chute was the next obstacle, but they did feel free to circle out in that direction, especially when the handling didn’t encourage them to jump and turn tightly.

Other handling options would replace some of the Front Crosses with Rear Crosses Learning the Rear CrossRear Cross or Blind Crosses. But with the distance between the obstacles and the rest of the course really made it necessary to get the Front Cross over jump 4 to be in position after jump 5.

One last note on terminology in the diagram. I know the term Post Turn Learning the Post TurnPost Turn/Shoulder Pull/Pivot Turn is falling out of favor in some handling systems. Especially where the handler’s motion,

Lateral Motion in this case, provides a tighter turn around the jump. I've combined the terminology in the diagram, trying to indicate that the handler turns to their right and immediately starts moving laterally away from jump 3 and toward jump 4. If you stayed "in the pocket" of the Post Turn watching your dog, they really turned wide and you were likely to be late for the Front Cross over jump 4.

So it turned out that the bottom left hand diagram: “Front Cross - Send - Arm Change - Lateral Motion - Push” gave the fastest time. About 0.5 seconds faster. I think it was due to giving Meeker the fewest extension cues on the approach to jump 3. I only stepped forward enough at jump 2 to send him over jump 3 (I didn’t even have to cross the plane of jump 2). He knew before he took off that he was turning back toward me since lack of forward motion is a turning cue. In the diagram I noted another Front Cross after he took jump 3, but all it is my changing arms and taking off as soon as he was turning over jump 3. So he turned very tight and saw me indicating jump 4 with my right arm as I ran past it to the landing side. I was originally afraid I wouldn’t be in position for the push to 5 but it wasn’t even a stretch. Once again a little more aggressive handling than I would have normally tried gave the fastest result.

Half a second isn’t all that much time on a whole course, but wouldn’t you love to save 0.5 seconds on every three jump sequence on your next course? A big thanks to Dana Pike for taking the time and gently harassing me to run the permutations.

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