Small Space Handling Skills

dog agility training handling obstacle discrimination 270

Tuesday mornings, I teach private lessons for students whose dogs can perform all the obstacles, but the human part of the team needs help with handling. We use a small matted space (80 x 30) which is often used for group classes such as obedience, puppy kindergarten, nose work, tricks and rally. I find that the small space helps handlers gain confidence in their abilities more quickly, so they’re better prepared for larger spaces in the future.

This course presented a variety of challenges (see color-coded key). Usually, we think of a tunnel beside a dogwalk or Aframe as an obstacle discrimination. In this case, it was a tunnel and a jump, and an opportunity to practice tire turns and experiment with acceleration and deceleration

#1-5 was easy for all teams, with the handler performing a front cross on the landing side of #3. The 270 at #6-7 was smooth if the handler decelerated and rear crossed #6. A few handlers attempted to get ahead and front cross on the landing side of #5, but dog after dog read the forward motion as permission to take off course #16 jump.

Patient handlers who decelerated on approach to #9 tire were rewarded with a nice turn to #10 jump. Those who felt the need for speed sent their dogs right into the off course #13 tunnel.
The #14-16 line worked best for handlers who kept dog on their left, decelerated or didn’t even pass plane of #14 jump to ensure slight bend in dog’s path. Staying behind worked well for rear cross on take off side of #16 jump to follow through with 270 to #17 jump.

Some dogs went around the #17 jump if the handler stretched out arm to indicate it, instead of keeping arm at side and using shoulder to cue tight turn. Dogs would also go around #17 jump if the handler attempted a front cross on the landing side of #17 and kept moving parallel to the jump instead of moving away diagonally toward #18 jump.

Set it up in your yard or training space and let me know what most challenged your team!

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