Thursday, May 17, 2007

Steering and the RFP

I think I have finally, after 3 years, understood how to steer my dog.

I used to use a reverse flow pivot (RFP) only when there was an obvious and severe obstacle discrimination problem. But after watching some really good handlers - especially in NADAC where you have to handle at a distance - and finally getting it in class, I see that I really need to turn in much more to steer Wyatt.

Last night, we had a situtation where there was an A-frame and then a set of 12 weaves sittiing fairly close and parallel to the A-Frame. So you had to do the A-frame and then turn your dog 180 degrees back to the weave poles. In order to get a good entrace to the weaves, the best move was to collect your dog by doing a subtle RFP, collecting the dog by standing still, and then moving ahead when the dog was collected and headed to the weaves. If you did not do this, the dog would go wide of the weaves and get a bad entrance. There were a number of places on the course where this type of move was needed.

I am also seeing that this move can be used in many places and also on the fly as a way to steer your dog back on track.

The other insight I had last night was that agility handling should not be thought of as obstacle to obstacle but as a continuous flow. You are always steering. Even when the dog is committed to the obstacle, you should be steering to next obstacle.

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