Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Day Chances Strategy - Lead Out Required

The QCDC New Year's Day Chances course was a very difficult (if not nearly impossible) course to run successfully at any level if you were unable to lead out.  I believe there were three elite Q's, two open, and one novice.  There were two possible lead out options, but if you and your dog couldn't do one or the other, it was game over.  
With no lead out, the handler is forced to run toward the off-course jump along the path indicated by the dashed red line.  Two or three dogs were able to get to #4 with a verbal "get out" as their handler ran along this path.  HOWEVER, those dogs all went into the tunnel under the A-frame.

I have trained a little bit with Dana Pike and have been strongly influenced by Linda Mecklenberg's writings in Clean Run and by Jane Simmons-Moake writings on unleashing the velcro dog.  I don't want my dog to ignore my body language.  It's one thing to slide laterally while facing your dog and keeping pressure on his line.  It's quite another to have him do one thing while you do another simply on a verbal.  I think the dogs who took #4 only because of a verbal demonstrate the downside of diluting the importance of your body cues.

Of course, the problem is there are a lot of fast dogs who don't have a start line stay.  However, with a solid start line stay, there are two options.

First, you can just lead out to anywhere along or behind the red line.  Release your dog and support his line to #4.  Notice that the handler has enough room to move toward the dog's line if necessary.  This is how I chose to run this course.

The second option is to take enough of a lateral lead out to allow you to be angling toward #4 as you run.  I liked this idea a lot, and there were a few teams that used it.  I chickened out because I felt this option was a little riskier in that there was always a possibility of Belle misunderstanding what I wanted and going from opening hoop to the #11 jump.


  1. what a challenging chances course! I'm no where near ready to handle an elite line, but we're working on it...out of curiosity, do you happen to remember where the Open and Novice lines fell?

  2. Hi, Kim: I only have a copy of the Open course.

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