Posts tagged ‘jess martin blog’

“You’re Late!” Tips for improving your agility timing

I think everyone in agility has heard the phrase “You’re late!” For some of us, it becomes a phrase that get’s repeated over and over. I remember years ago joking that anyone could teach my agility class…they just had to repeat “you’re late” over and over again. Of course this is a massive exaggeration, but you get the point as to how often my students were hearing it!

So how do we stop ourselves from being so late with our cues? The issue in my opinion is that we are attempting to react to a very specific moment in time. Realistically if we are looking to be that accurate, there are going to be many times where we miss the mark.

Think of it this way…if we are playing darts and I give you the choice to either get points for hitting the bullseye, or points for just hitting the board, which one do you think will get you more points?

Exactly! Just hitting the board is much easier as it is not as specific of a target. The same goes for your agility timing. If you are trying to time your cue to the moment of commitment for the dog you are attempting to hit bullseyes! This makes it very easy to be late and the consequence of course is the dog dropping the bar, jumping an inefficient line, or even going off course!

So how do we adjust our timing to be less precise and therefore more effective?

Here are a few tips for making this adjustment:

  • Start your cue when the dog reaches approximately the halfway point between the two obstacles instead of when your are sure the dog is going to take the jump
  • Increase your forward motion cues: using more of a “send arm” will help your dog continue to drive to the correct obstacle even when you are turning earlier than usual
  • Keep moving! Make sure that there are no sudden stops that will pull the dog off the obstacle that they should be taking
  • Use a verbal “jump” cue or a verbal turning cue if you have one
  • Continue to look at the jump your want your dog to take until you see “intent” (the dog looks at the correct obstacle)

By using these methods, you can give yourself more chances to be successful with your timing since you have a much larger area to be on time.  

For more help creating your own Handling Success, sign up for my online handling course beginning Dec 9th! Registration is now open!

Visit www.agiledogtraining.com  for more details.

Happy Training,

Jess Martin

November 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm 3 comments

A Lesson in Adaptability

Hello there agility fans! I’ve just arrived in Vancouver to teach a 3 day seminar and as always am very excited to work with different people and their dogs.

I’ve already had some great agility conversations within hours of arriving,and one comment has really stuck in my mind. As usual, I was talking about the differences between my dogs, and I was complimented on my tendency to work with them instead of trying to make them adapt to my particular training style.

This made me think for a moment.

How many of us are trying to push the proverbial boulder uphill when we could go downhill instead?

Now I’m not talking about giving up all sense of teamwork and letting your dog do whatever they want, but through my recent dogs I’ve found adaptability is a powerful tool.

When I got my sheltie Dice, I knew that I had to be creative when dealing with her fears. I didn’t want to see her stressed or “make” her deal with things. The most reinforcing thing for me was my dog to be excited and happy to play with me. I could have tried to fit her into the mould of training that had worked for me in the past, but it left both of us frustrated. Instead I decided to experiment and find the ways that she and I could both have fun. As many of you know, despite being labelled by some as a “shut down” dog she is a highly successful agility competitor.

So with my next dog (my border collie Heist) I figured I was unstoppable. I mean if I could bring out the best in Dice then surely this drivey little border collie puppy would be a breeze. Hmm…well I may have gotten a bit of a reality check on that one! As it turns out, he had his own ideas of just how things should be done. It took me quite some time to recognize that I was fighting to make him conform to my ideas and it simply wasn’t working. I then started to experiment with different handling and training. I accepted that it worked best for us both if I didn’t try to obsess on small details but instead focused on our connection. With this mindset change, we connected as a team and I love running him!

So my question is, are you trying to force your dog to fit into a mould that your perception has created? Are you trying to cram them into that ideal regardless of their true personality?

I truly believe there is no “right” way to do things…there’s simply effective and ineffective. And what might be effective for one dog/handler team may not be for another.

It’s up to you to accept your dog for who they are and find how your training or handling can work for you both. Don’t fall into the same trap that I did in feeling like your way is the ONLY way to do things. Often what works for one style of dog or handler will not work for another.

If the connection is there, then great! You have an amazing agility partnership. But if it’s not, and part of this blog has resonated with you in some way, then embrace the lesson of adaptability. Accept the lessons that your dog can teach you and begin your path to a compromise in which you both can be happy.

In the end I feel that I may not have gotten the dogs I initially WANTED to have…but I’ve definitely gotten the dogs I’ve NEEDED to have.

For those of you who have submitted questions, I will still be answering them…just got a little sidetracked for the moment so thought I’d share what’s on my mind!

Until next time,

Happy Training!

Jess Martin

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October 18, 2013 at 2:08 am 6 comments

Solving Frustration Barking

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian blog followers!

Today’s question is one that we’ve all probably witnessed at some point while watching agility…even if it wasn’t with our own dog.

Frustration barking!

Have you ever seen a dog that gets confused on course and then comes flying back at the handler barking, spinning, and sometimes even jumping up and biting at the handler? Yikes! This is not something we want happening at all is it?

Over my years as an agility competitor and coach I have seen this problem countless times and even had to deal with in my own dogs from time to time.

In this video, I have suggested not only how to help get the dog back under control in these situations, but also how to help PREVENT this from happening in the first place.

Afterall, we can’t be perfect handlers all the time! Helping to teach your dog to deal with their frustration in a positive way can help relieve the stress of both the dog and the handler!

Don’t forget to submit your training questions at http://www.agiledogtraining.com!

Happy Training!

Jess Martin

October 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm 2 comments

Start line question: getting your dog into position faster

Hi everyone! Today’s question is about how to get your dog into position at the start line without “arguing” with them. Have you ever experienced this? I sure have! Sometimes we feel like we are fighting the dog and we haven’t even started the run yet!

Let me ask you a question…do you feel like a team with your dog at that moment? Of course not!

In this video, I discuss some of the ways I’ve found to have my dogs WANT to move into position at the start. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel like a team right from the beginning?

Thank you to everyone for posting your questions at http://www.agiledogtraining.com! Keep them coming and I’ll do my best to answer them all!

Happy Training,

Jess Martin

October 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm 2 comments

Transitioning between running and stopped contacts

Today’s training question inquires about how to transition between stopped and running contacts. I’ve gone both directions with this…transitioning my duck toller from a 2 on 2 off contact to a beautiful running contact and my border collie from a running dogwalk to a 2 on 2 off contact.

Here are a few ideas for making these transitions as smooth as possible.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s video where I’ll share some tips for creating an effective start line routine!

Happy Training,

Jess Martin

October 11, 2013 at 2:58 am 1 comment


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