Friday, December 30, 2016

Handling: Threadles

There is always so much to learn (and teach to your dogs) in agility. It is truly never ending!

My most recent project has been threadles. Threadles have many forms, but the classic (and the simplest to explain) is two parallel jumps, where you want the dog to take both jumps from the same side. In the really classic example, you want them to take both jumps from the side you are on, which means the dog has to come back to the handler before she can take the second jump (hard to explain in words, I've set up the "classic" in the video below).

Kili can sometimes struggle with threadles, particularly when she's fresh and lacking a bit in impulse control, as she tends to be carried far out by her long stride, and when she turns she's got a jump sitting right in front of her... why bother to take the long way around? However, even when she's listening well we still have an issue. Currently our threadle involves me calling Kili in to me, and then sending her out over the second jump. In other words, she looks at me, she comes to me, and then I have to show her the next obstacle. When you watch some of the best teams running, you will see that the dog instinctively seems to know what to do. The handler gives them the threadle cue, and the dog cuts close around the wing of the jump and takes it... seemingly without actually being told. Well, it's not instinctive... it's training! And I decided I want my dogs to have that skill.

In the below video I'm working with Kili and Kenna in the beginning stages of learning what the threadle cue actually means. It doesn't just mean "come over this way", it means "come and take this side of the next jump" so that they find the next obstacle independently. I can't take credit for the training on this, as one of my trainers told me what to do! But it's perfect. This video is of our second session. The girls are doing great with just the single jump, but are still learning to collect after the first jump. However, when they do it right you can see that they aren't even really looking at me for direction. They glance at me, they see the cue, and they immediately look for the appropriate side of the jump and take it. Now it's just practice, practice, practice... and that's how you get a greyhound to run like a border collie... sort of. ;)

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