Belle and I are back from Champs. As soon as I receive the DVD of our runs from Three Pines, I will post about Champs.
I entered Dusty in a trial in mid-November, so I decided to start putting up some Chances courses for us to practice. The one I picked for today also had 15 and 20-point bonus lines to practice with Belle.
There are four challenges on the Elite course. First, the dog has to be able to perform the weaves with his handler approximately 12 feet away. Next is the 180 degree turn from 7 to 8. Third is the push from 10 to 11. Finally, for those of us not able to keep up to our dogs, the dog has to be able to finish up the course while his handler is falling further behind.
In the Open version of this Chances course, the first challenge is removed, but the others remain.
As you will see in the video, I prefer to lead out on the right side of the #2 tunnel because it puts me in a position to see my dogs exit the tunnel under the A-frame. I did one run with Dusty in which I lead out to the left of the tunnel, and he took the weaves with ease. However, I think he was able to do so because he knew the course by the time I tried leading out to the left of the tunnel.
Be able to perform the weaves without the handler being close by is a skill that has to be taught. And as Dusty's little meltdowns show, once it is taught, it must be practiced from time to time.
The 180 degree turn from 7 to 8 depends upon the training the dog to turn away from you after he has started toward you. It also calls for fairly good timing on the handler's part, especially if you substitute jumps for the two hoops.
The push from 10 to 11 is most easily accomplished if the handler backs away from the line while his dog is in the tunnel so that he has room to push on the dog's line from 10 to 11.
If you fall behind your dog on the last two hoops, you have to have a verbal to indicate he is to go on without you. FWIW, I have a theory that over-using a verbal will cause some dogs to turn back toward their handler or pull them off-course. Think of it this way, the dog is on course and his handler is in back of him cheering him on with "Go! Go! Go!" Since he was going toward the last object and you are still yelling, maybe you really want him to do something else.