I went out this morning to see how Dusty and Belle would do with yesterday's Chances course. (We had the same kinds of problems with it this morning as we did yesterday. Go figure.) However, I specifically wanted to work on the "out" from tunnel #6 to jump #7. It's essentially the same move that gave us trouble on the course from February 23rd.
Watching yesterday's video, I could see that even when Belle and I were successful, she still curved toward me before moving out to take the correct jump. I thought it was because I was not saying "out" until she was emerging from the tunnel. However, today I tried saying "out" earlier and earlier, and the result wasn't pretty.
On one of today's attempts with Dusty, I inadvertently put pressure on the line from #7 to #8 as he exited the tunnel, and he did jumps #7 and #8 perfectly--no head check, no bobble in his line. I realized what I did, but I had to give it some thought before I realized why it worked.
When I put pressure on the path from the tunnel to #7, I found myself moving toward "X" or standing still as the dogs exited the tunnel. This resulted in the dogs seeing me in a more or less recall position, while from my viewpoint, I was concentrating my efforts on pushing the dogs out to the "X." The direction in which I was moving was not really the direction I wanted them to take. Additionally, I was looking almost directly at them as they came out of the tunnel, and direct eye contact is an innate signal for handler focus, which is what I was getting, much to my dismay.
When I changed the direction of my push toward the green "Y," the dogs did not see a recall image--they saw me moving in the direction of the course and were able to move to the correct jump with little or no bobble in their line. I created a short video with Belle demonstrating the effect of facing the two different spots on the course.
I look forward to trying out this new technique on similar course challenges to see if it always works.