Since coming back into agility this spring, I have worked hard to update my handling methods. It seems as though the days of the 'airplane' front crosses are gone and are replaced with a better turning cue using the opposite hand of where the dog is located.
My previous turning cues were ' jump in front of the dog and toss'...but I can see by watching other handlers that the opposite hand turning cue make so much more sense and just look better. I also have what my agility instructor calls 'verbal diarrhea'. I talk too much on the course. Especially when I think its a particularly difficult course for me to handle, and I am not confident. I start running my mouth with lots of 'Here' Go' ' Jump'..blah..blah...blah...
Today, Cindy challenged us to run a course using no arms and no verbal cues except, 'gooood dog','tunnel' (since the tunnels were tucked under the A frame and dog walk), and 'weave'. Did I mention that we couldn't use our arms? 'No Ninja Chops' she said to me...yikes! I walked the course with storm clouds overhead. 'No way will he respond' I thought I wasn't the only one..the whole class was doubtful that their dog could run the course with only forward movement and shoulder pulls.
Well...I kept my arms to myself, and my mouth shut. And guess what? Liam did great! In fact, it was our best run this week. I kept moving and the less I said the more I focused on my body and feet, and the more I felt that I was communicating. Liam had his tail wagging and was MOVING!
Something else I found was that not talking to him so much, slowed my head down so that I could enjoy working with him instead of nagging. Liam is big, smart and obviously knows the sport. It makes me gleeful to work in such a close partnership with him and I love that he is so forgiving on the agility course!