Obstacle Discrimination - Sometimes a Head Check is Enough

10 Aug 2004Steve Schwarz

It seems I need to relearn this lesson periodically.

One of Anthony’s courses at Dearlove had the obstacle sequence shown below. It is a basic obstacle discrimination test that can be handled in a couple different ways.

Course With Obstacle Numbers

If the handler is ahead of the dog at the tire, front cross with the dog on the take off side of the tire and the handler on the landing side. This puts the dog on the handler’s right as they approach the tunnel/table; allowing the handler to alter the dog’s path to take the obvious off course out of picture.

Course With Dog and Handler Paths for Front Cross

The second approach is to keep the dog on the left through the tire and pull them toward the table.

Course With Dog and Handler Paths for Shoulder Pull

When handling Milo on this course he is too fast for me to get in position for the front cross. So I planned to keep him on my left throughout the sequence. I also knew I didn’t want to charge towards the tire; it would just push him farther out making it harder to redirect Milo to the table. So I held back before the tire to cue him to shorten his stride.

I planned to just call his name with a shoulder pull towards the table and away from the tunnel opening. I was either late in my call or Milo didn’t believe me; so he went straight into the tunnel.

Course With Dog and Handler Paths Off Course 1

I could have just tried this strategy again, but I know that rocketing through tunnels is a Milo speciality. I didn’t want to get him locked into the wrong sequence when I knew it was my handling that was wrong.

On my second attempt I took advantage of Milo’s attention to physical cues and tried a Half Cross to get his attention and then redirect him to the table. I certainly got his attention. Even though I only did a slight turn, he pulled off the tunnel towards me and right past the table and into the other side of the tunnel.

Course With Dog and Handler Paths Off Course 2

Sue stepped in and told me to just get his head/eyes and then direct him to the table. She was right on the money. I called him and as soon as he looked at me I gave him the “Table” command without any shoulder, hip or foot rotation. Just lifted my arm in front of me towards the table. Calling his name got him to check in (using a verbal leash) and he instantly went right to the table.

Big rewards for Milo and big thanks to Sue for re-teaching me this lesson.

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