For the last 2 1/2 days mum has been attending an agility seminar run by Noora from One Mind Dogs. Background for anyone new to my blog and my agility story is that mum & I were introduced to the One Mind Dogs agility handling style late last year. Given we are pretty new to agility this is the 1st seminar mum has gone to. I purposely say mum as she booked an audit spot rather than a working spot. It means mum goes along and watches but unfortunately I have to stay at home. Think mum wishes she had been brave and booked a working spot.
But yes back to One Mind Dogs. When people started talking about One a Mind Dogs mum liked what she was hearing. The idea of being infront of us dogs, cueing the direction and then getting out of the way made sense to mum and the way I run. The background story also involves developing a handling system that worked for a deaf dog. Well all this appealed to mum for a couple of reasons. Firstly mum generally doesn’t talk to me on course. Mum speaks, I lift my head, bum drops, bar goes down. So mum runs most courses in silence except for contacts. The other part that appealed was the idea of giving us dogs the right lines and spacing. If I get my strides incorrect… Well the bar comes down. Talk about mum’s preoccupation about bars staying up.
So mum says she has learnt loads and loads over the last 2 1/2 days. There are a lot of actual turns and moves which have funky names which we will practice and use over time but interestingly it isn’t these individual moves that mum thought were the key take-outs from her time at the seminar. Nope these are mum’s key take-outs:
1. Obstacle vs handler focus: it is important that us dogs pay attention to you handlers but it is also really important that we focus on our job…. Taking the obstacle. Interestingly most handlers were rewarding either with food from the hand or playing with a tug toy. Instead we are going to be doing a lot more work on me working independently on obstacles and being treated from a target.
2. Reward on the dog’s line: where I’m treated matters so I get the idea of the best line. For a heavily food focused dog like I am than having the target with food in my running line works.
3. Where is my nose going?: regardless of the type of turn it is important to think of the angle I need to be landing at to continue along the running line. So to get the landing right mum needs to think about the take-offs. It is often important to get my nose already facing the landing running line before I even take off.
4. It’s not a mum vs Bodhi race: as much as I love a good race with mum it turns out this isn’t great for agility. While mum wants speed and drive from me she also wants me to be focused on doing the obstacles correctly. Yep there is going to be a lot of time spent with using the target to get me used to focusing on the obstacle while mum moves ahead to cue further down the course.
5. Reward: mum’s says it was amazing how much more motivated the dogs working at the seminar were when they were rewarded each time they stopped on the course. Yep each time mum stops on course it is important that she reinforces that I’m doing well.
So there is mum’s Top 5 from the One Mind Dogs seminar. Not instructions on how to do a turn but fundamental learnings on how mum and I work as a team.
Can’t wait to start practicing these with mum (especially where it involves treats…. Start cooking from the Recipe Book mum).