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Discussion Starter #1
I have been training Havoc for agility for some time. Deployments, moves and other sports(obedience, rally, tracking) have really slowed down progress as we have to split our training time.

I have dealt with contact issues, dropped bars and grabbing at my arms to to the point of bloodying me. We have made excellent progress but have one more issue to overcome. Havoc head checks. When he head checks the probability is high that the bar is coming down.

I feel at this point that the head checking is obviously him looking to me for where to go next. I am trying very hard to get my cues out sooner. I have tried to not use verbals as the sound of my voice causes him to turn his head toward me. My body cues are also doing that to some degree. If I use a verbal I have to get it out fast, like in the case of weaves before his nose approaches the last pole. However if I give it too soon I am afraid he will pop out of the weaves or take a wrong course.

He is so fast they call him a border collie in a GSD suit. We are working on distance and my silence and timing my cues. I am 53, he is very fast and I am very slow!

Guess I am looking for any more ideas on clearly communicating the direction he is to go, quietly and early enough that he goes on without head checking. When we get this together we are ready to trial. I really want to trail him this spring, he is almost 4.
 

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Are you training with someone with really fast BC's? Cause that will help...

Going from handler focus to obstacle focus and back is an issue I have too. Sometimes we want it and sometimes we don't. I try to think of the space BETWEEN obstacles as where I need to figure out my handling magic. Because that's the 'early' to give guidance for the next equipment or line of equipment.

I really use front and rear crosses (properly timed) to show a change of direction. Otherwise we are going fairly straight and I may be saying 'go'. So practicing them, and knowing when/where they go is vital. If I do a cross and there is no change of direction, then I weaken the cue and information for my dogs.

I'm also really trying to run with my arms down (like a human really runs) UNLESS I do have to use my arm to give direction. Usually for an 'out' or to help with a front cross. I also cue a rear with my hand PLUS I use a verbal.

For a rear cross, when I know I have to change direction, when my dog lands from one jump I am saying 'Back, Back (my rear cross cue) as we are running towards the next jump that she's rearing. If I have time (and I do) to give out 2 'back, back' than I know I've done a great job of giving Bretta the TIME to change her lead leg and do the cross properly (without confusion and back spinning) and she KNOWS that 'back back' means run ahead, take the jump, mom is meeting you on the other side! So much less confusion and that head checking until she's over that jump and then picking me up on the other side.

Think also having my dog get comfortable at a lateral distance, a bit away from me helps
 

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Forgot to add that I've been adding alot of opposite arm stuff to cue bends and turns in the course. I can put up that arm (which also turns my shoulders) BEFORE Bretta takes off but she sees it to collect and already be angled and know we certainly aren't going straight AFTER the jump but we are still going towards mom... so it takes the off courses out of the picture that may be straight ahead and also helps with me screaming her name to make sure she's not focused on the off course.

I've been told this is Linda Mecklenberg's method so am a big fan of any information I'm able to give BEFORE my dog takes off that she understands so isn't looking for info when in mid air.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks MRL!!!

I have introduced Back as well. I just watched Stacy Peardot-Goudy's DVD on front and rear crosses and realized I have made a handling mistake (who me???? :) ) I have practiced side switches without a turn adn this adds confusion to him (inconsistent handling) I have also gone back to work the GO game by tossing a toy straight ahead as I say go.

I do practice occassioanlly with the BC crowd but we train pretty much on our own as we are 2 hours from the nearest class (outdoors) and it has been cold. Instructor got very sick too so we have not met since November.

I would like to enter Havoc at Nationals- see you there?
 

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Thanks MRL!!!
I do practice occassioanlly with the BC crowd but we train pretty much on our own as we are 2 hours from the nearest class (outdoors) and it has been cold. Instructor got very sick too so we have not met since November.

I would like to enter Havoc at Nationals- see you there?
It's definitely harder to train without an instructor. I'm so busying 'doing' when I'm on course (and thinking I'm right) that it's hard to work out a problem and fix it (cause I'm not doing it right at all....). Can you video tape your runs at all? That's a good way I can tell my dog is confused and I'm late/early/missing a cue entirely.

I won't be at the GSD Nationals until it's back on the east coast. Just too far and too expensive. I will, however, be at the AKC Agility Nationals in April in VA, if those are the ones you meant (but I don't think they are). I do LOVE the GSDCA Nationals though, so fun to only see and run against all the other GSD's!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My instructor said the same thing to me, training alone is hard. I do not pick up on my own errors. I did mean the GSDCA Nationals! The AKC Agility Nationals was in Tulsa last year a few days after I got back from Iraq. I volunteered to steward and it was a blast! Wonderful to see all those great dogs and handlers.
 
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