Monday, July 2, 2012

One More Chance - Discriminations

Unlike Saturday's course, Sunday's Chances course was full of learning opportunities.  When I walked the course, my first concern was whether or not Dusty would make his A-frame contact.  Unfortunately, #4 is 20 feet from the line, and if you're concentrating on either the discrimination (which very few dogs in Elite or Open failed) or managing the contact, you don't have a lot of room to move forward toward #4.  In my case, I had enough room to move forward, but I indicated the gentle arc to #5 too soon for Mr. D, and he turned off the hoop.

The line angles in the direction the handler wants to go for obstacles 5-8.  However, as soon as the dog takes #7, any handler up against the line is in trouble.  There is no way to physically push the dog to #8 from the line.  Many of the dogs went from 7 to 9.  

Two other problems occurred after #6.  First, some of the dogs failed to turn at all and took the off-course #11 jump.  Second, some of the dogs turned left after #6, but failed to carry out to #7, and their handler was too close to the line to push on their line.  (I think that if we had made it smoothly to #6, Dusty and I would have encountered a problem when I asked for the left turn.)

The challenges in Open were as in Elite.  However, it is now easier to support the dog's path to #4 even if you have to manage the contact.  If memory serves, I don't think any of the Elite dogs took the tunnel.  In Open where the line isn't moving away from the A-frame as sharply, two dogs took the tunnel.  In Novice, the  tunnel sucked in a significant number of dogs.

When faced with a discrimination, one technique to try is figuring out what you would do to send your dog to the wrong obstacle.  Then when you plan your handling for the actual obstacle, if any of those elements is present in your handling plan, you know you probably should be doing it differently.  If I want the tunnel, I would either run close to my dog from the start line, or I would lead out, keeping enough lateral distance so that I could push toward the tunnel when I release my dog to run.

The line from 1 to 2 is already heading slightly left.  If you are close to your dog, there is a very good chance he will take the tunnel.  You either have to have some lateral distance at the start so you can run a straight line or one angling a little bit to the right (depends on the dog), or you have to move right after #2.  Unfortunately, if you move too far right after #2, you may pull your dog with you past both obstacles.  Certainly more than one team also did just that.

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