Friday, July 13, 2012

Handler vs Obstacle Focus

When I think of handler and obstacle focus, Stuart Mah immediately comes to mind.  I have read many of his articles, and I have had the pleasure of attending three of his seminars.  At the last seminar, he stressed the different ways a handler can indicate she wants her dog to be in handler focus or obstacle focus.  Among other things, he stressed that to bring a dog into obstacle focus the handler uses a (relatively) loud, driving voice.  To bring a dog into handler focus, the handler uses a quieter voice.  Unfortunately, when my adrenaline starts pumping, there's really no such thing as a quiet voice.

This morning, I set up the course below and made up my own bonus line.  I knew the hardest part would be getting the turn to #4.  There were plenty of timing issues today, but on our first attempt I also used a driving voice when I said "left" to indicate the turn.  Now, there are two problems with that loud "left."  First of all, it was a loud driving voice, which as Stuart Mah maintains is best used when you want your dog in obstacle focus.  Definitely, not what I wanted here.  Additionally, "left" by itself is ambiguous to Belle since the tunnel could also be viewed as being "left."  A quiet "left hoop" would provide ever so much more information.  Unfortunately, it will not make up for a failure to support Belle's line to the point where I want the turn.  ;-)

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