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Agility - stand up for signalling?


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I have recently been practicing a directional change, signalled by a front cross, when the dog is lured straight by a decoy jump. (The sequence is: tunnel followed by 3 straight-on jumps (the dog gets up speed), but I want my dog to turn after the 2nd jump to another jump.) My dog loves to keep going over that last straight-on decoy jump!

 

When I use the FC signal to indicate the turn to the jump, the instructor (actually I have been told this by 2 different trainers) wants me to stand up straight when I raise my hand. At this point, my hand ends up being 4.5-5 feet high. I have a tendency to want to keep my hand lower - thinking that the dog would see it better.

 

I have also decelerated, almost to a stop, in addition to the hand signal.

 

Yes, my dog and I need to work on this skill, but my main question is: If I hold my hand up as high as I am being taught, can the dog see it? Would a waist-level or lower signal be easier to see from the dog's perspective? I have seen some agility runs of European handlers and it seems that they tend signal with their hands held lower.

 

Opinions? Advice?

 

I hope that I have explained this clearly. If not, I am happy to provide clarification.

 

Jovi

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Not an expert,but here's my thinking.

 

Dogs have a much wider range of vision than humans, but because their eyes are angled more outward, they have a very limited range of stereoscopic vision (where they're actually able to focus on things). They have a wide range peripheral vision where they see movement more than anything. Chances are, your hand is low to begin with. If you keep it low to signal your dog, you're not moving it as much so there's a chance he'll miss it and stay focused on the jump. If the movement of your arm is greater, its more likely that he'll see it and refocus on you for that split second to see what it is your signaling.

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The European dogs you are watching have a lot more training than your dog does, since you are still instructing her / him. It's totally normal for green dogs to not take the front cross cue after a speed straight away, especially when you've really practiced driving to the next obstacle. Dexter still misses my front cross cues sometimes because he's just so focused forward. One night in class he simply jumped my hand and kept going!

 

When you stand up straight and square up to the dog, it's a signal for the dog to put on the brakes and square up to you, so your instructor is correct; being upright makes it a double visual for your dog that he should be collecting and turning with you. But with a green dog, that doesn't always happen ;-)

 

As your dog gets more and more accustomed to taking these cues, your movements can be a lot less obvious if that's how you prefer to run. But it's just a matter of practice and time. And remember that your hands are actually the last piece of information the dog is looking at - feet first, then your torso, THEN your hands. Probably you are more precise with your footwork and body positioning if you're standing up straighter.

 

I would also suggest that if your dog can't take the front cross cue after a speed straight away of three jumps, go back a step or two. Make it two jumps, or even one jump, until he's reliably taking the front cross cue. I didn't do enough one jump foundation stuff when Dex was younger, and we're paying for it in collection deficiencies now ... One time I measured his stride and when he is running full out, he will land as much as 7' from the jump, so I'm trying to bring it home to Mr. "Long Stride" that he needs to collect. The lack of collection is often where our front cross cues fail.

 

RDM

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Excellent replies, Mr. Snappy and arf2184. Thank you very much. I think I will 'back up' a bit so Torque can be successful at his turn, and once turning well, I will add another/more jumps to increase his speed.

 

Yes, Torque is also a long-strided dog with poor collection skills - my fault. He is my first agility dog, and his agility training has been somewhat intermittent since he has had a couple of injuries which caused some lay-offs.

 

Jovi

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I agree with RDM to take it back a few steps if you need to. Sometimes the quickest way forwards is to go a bit backwards.

 

I like to train my handling on the flat before I start to put it to obstacles. This helps the dogs learn how to read the moves before putting it to obstacles as well as me learning them in relation to that particular dog.

 

Dave Munnings has a nice DVD called Q-Me (Clean Run has it) that goes through a lot of foundation work for crosses and getting the dog to collect for turns etc.

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  • 3 months later...

Sometimes the quickest way forwards is to go a bit backwards.

 

Great, Great motto! :) I had a hard time learning that lesson, but when I did it made all the difference to my dog.

 

I also really like Nancy Gyes Alphabet drills book, lots of drills to help break down what you are teaching.

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