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I am curious what system you use and why? Or do you have your own system?

 

I have been practicing agility for 4 years and competing for roughly 2-3 of that (not regularly at this point). Until last fall I used the Derrett System which is based on very specific positional cues from the handler. Ideally you are in position at the next piece of equipment when your dog is launching from the previous jump. After struggling with timing with my little rocket dog (>7yps jumpers), I decided to change systems to Shape Up Dogs, so that I can give her on a verbal cue and leave regardless of where I am or where she is.

 

It has been a bit of a transition with the hardest bit, getting her to take a jump while I am moving in a different direction - with the Derrett system, human decel means the dog should be coming with you, not continue to the equipment...Additionally, moving threadles have been a bit of a challenge because she was always taught to come in to me and then flick, where now I am literally moving in the direction that I want to go while giving her a cue. Serpentines were more of a challenge in the Derrett System for me, but with a verbal cue to take the jump, it is much more clear to her not to go running by as I move ahead.

 

 

 

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I don't use a system. In fact I have strong negative opinions about 'systems' and fads in dog agility, at least where systems involve a lot of rigidity and words like 'always' and 'never'.

 

I have two very different dogs - an 11" tall, not blazing fast or particularly high drive dog and a 20" tall BC who is stupid fast. One who is not overly independent and one who will leave me standing in the dust. One who is honest to the point of contortion to do what I ask for, and compensates for me and one who gives me no slack. I also run NADAC. Those two facts alone likely influence me a lot, but at the end of the day what I want are a lot of tools in my toolbox and a clear understanding of how and when to use them. That means I do some old, currently out of fashion things like blind crosses (NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON A DOG!!) and some things that come from One Mind Dogs.

 

Bottom line for me: Teach me all the things, I will do my best to learn them and then I will use what works for the given dog, me, and the course.

 

And all of that said: There is no reason you can't take what works and you like from one system and NOT change the rest of your handling. If New Thing is better for you and dog for serps, use it for serps. If Old!Thing works best for other things, keep using that. Mixing and matching is allowed ;-)

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Yes to the mix and match! Haha to the BX :) As you are probably aware, Derrett does not support BX and I struggle with deciding whether to implement them or not...

 

I think the most important is consistency of handling and expectation...which is one reason why the Derrett System does work for people who can run fast - one cue=one behavior=clarity for the dog all the time. This is one aspect of Shape Up Dogs that is challenging - physical decel does not ALWAYS mean decel so you HAVE to train and proof verbal cues.

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Blind Crosses are really divisive.

To which I can only say they've saved my ass once or twice when I either wasn't in position or didn't have time to do the cross I intended (usually a front) and that means I'm glad they're in the 'toolbox' as things I can do and that the dogs can read.


Which, really, is just about how I feel about everything re: agility training.

 

That said, I'm not going to world's any time soon, either. NADAC champs, maybe, but not world's.

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Blind Crosses are really divisive.

 

To which I can only say they've saved my ass once or twice when I either wasn't in position or didn't have time to do the cross I intended (usually a front) and that means I'm glad they're in the 'toolbox' as things I can do and that the dogs can read.

 

Which, really, is just about how I feel about everything re: agility training.

 

That said, I'm not going to world's any time soon, either. NADAC champs, maybe, but not world's.

Yes, BX are very divisive. I think friendships have nearly been extinguished because of them LOL. I will do them out of a tunnel or pushing to the backside of a jump for a wrap. Mostly they scare me LOL - in order to execute them well you need to be well ahead of your dog - which I am mostly not that far ahead :)

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Yes, BX are very divisive. I think friendships have nearly been extinguished because of them LOL. I will do them out of a tunnel or pushing to the backside of a jump for a wrap. Mostly they scare me LOL - in order to execute them well you need to be well ahead of your dog - which I am mostly not that far ahead :)

 

I do them out of tunnels a lot more than anything else, but again - one of my dogs is 11" tall and not all THAT fast. Plus, courses usually turn back and because we've got some distance I can stay still and end up 'ahead' :P Just gotta read the course and the dog and the venue.

 

(That said, they scare me too. Seriously, when I use them it's 'crap, I have no time to front', or with a tunnel. I'm also not particularly GOOD at them, but my gosh they save me when they save me. Much like being able to rear cross weaves, actually.)

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I am not a fan of "systems" either, fundamentally agility is made up of three crosses, front, rear and blind and everything else is a combination of that. I started agility with a very average trainer and learned a front and rear cross and gradually added more skills, I trained my current competition dog with a lot Linda Mecklbergs motion based concepts which at the time I really liked as I was able to get my big fast dog round the course without having to think about verbals. At the time I competed in NADAC and USDAA and the style worked for USDAA not NADAC.

I just finished Shape Up agilitys foundation course with my puppy and really liked their style, the modern FCI course has become both fluid and technical and you either need to be bloody fast or have great verbals and their handling style has been tailored so they can compete at that level, we now live in Spain and so this is the style of course we now have to work with. This weekend I put it to the test, I did a seminar and with conventional handling (think OMD and European international) we were all doing a ketchker, to threadle the dog, then a front cross to get the next jump with a tight turn into weaves and so I tried the same sequence with my baby dog using Shape Ups threadle command worked perfectly and I could be much further up the course, all I had to do was run in a straight line, worked just like they said it would!

I have never been a fan of Greg Derrett, it has always been too prescriptive for me, an English International judge made an observation to me that GD is anti blind crosses as he still has DVDs to sell and he can't change his handling system without having to redo every thing, which is what Susan Garrett had to do.

I love blind crosses, I run a big fast dog and there are many places on a course that it would simply not be possible for me to get to where I needed to be without them, they are certainly not appropriate in every circumstance but with modern courses they are a very important tool. When I started agility in 2009, blind crosses were verboten but a year later when I started with my current dog they were becoming acceptable again.

I am a big believer in trying things out, I have taken seminars with speciality NADAC trainers, and although I would never use most of the skills it is always interesting to learn and you never know when you will find something that works for you, at a seminar I am always willing to try the trainers ideas, I might never do it again, but you never know.

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I think maybe the more prescriptive things can be useful when people really want 'rules' to follow on course, because they're not quite confident themselves and that makes them feel better? Do this when you see that, sort of stuff really appeals to the way some people's minds work.

 

That said, thinking about this more, I don't even entirely believe that 100% consistency is always necessary either - or even necessarily better, depending on what you mean by consistency. My little dog has both running and stopped contacts. She learned stopped. I taught running later because she got 'sad' when stopped. So, 95% of the time she does running. HOWEVER, the 5% of the time I want a stopped contact because, I don't know, I need to be able to do a cross there, or I need to push off the contact without from behind the dog and my timing has been flubbed? I've got one. I have to cue it, but it's there. I don't have this with my bigger, faster dog for a couple of reasons but I make no promises that I won't add a running contact a year or two down the line, if the reasons I don't now go away (and one of them is inexperience so will).

 

It's still just another skill the dog and handler have and have learned and that can be used (or not). It's just teaching the dog. The more you and the dog have, the more you can use. It's not clear cut, it leaves lots of options and that means having to make decisions, but OPTIONS.

 

(Sorry for the flood of posts - my instructor and I have been talking about this a lot, lately, so it's on my mind).

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To be fair to Greg he still handles like that and is very successful, even with an ageing dog that is slowing down. Don't know how long it will last though as all the new top handlers coming through seem to be considerably younger and fitter. Our visiting instructor trains with the Team GB squad and Greg has tried to persuade her to switch to his system but she prefers the mix and match approach.

 

I've been involved in agility for nearly 20 years and have seen fashions come and go and come back round again so I treat "new" systems with a sizeable chunk of scepticism.

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To be fair to Greg he still handles like that and is very successful, even with an ageing dog that is slowing down. Don't know how long it will last though as all the new top handlers coming through seem to be considerably younger and fitter. Our visiting instructor trains with the Team GB squad and Greg has tried to persuade her to switch to his system but she prefers the mix and match approach.

 

I've been involved in agility for nearly 20 years and have seen fashions come and go and come back round again so I treat "new" systems with a sizeable chunk of scepticism.

No disagreement on his success Pam, but when I have been watching him recently on tv during recent internationals he looks like he really has to work hard to get to where he needs to be compared to those who use a combination of techniques and taken on board some of the newer ideas. For all my grumbling about Susan Garrets sales techniques her success and ability to adapt and take on new ideas to stay competitive is impressive and she has a good number of years on Greg. Agility is such a young sport and it is evolving all the time which makes it really interesting.

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I think maybe the more prescriptive things can be useful when people really want 'rules' to follow on course, because they're not quite confident themselves and that makes them feel better? Do this when you see that, sort of stuff really appeals to the way some people's minds work.

 

That said, thinking about this more, I don't even entirely believe that 100% consistency is always necessary either - or even necessarily better, depending on what you mean by consistency. My little dog has both running and stopped contacts. She learned stopped. I taught running later because she got 'sad' when stopped. So, 95% of the time she does running. HOWEVER, the 5% of the time I want a stopped contact because, I don't know, I need to be able to do a cross there, or I need to push off the contact without from behind the dog and my timing has been flubbed? I've got one. I have to cue it, but it's there. I don't have this with my bigger, faster dog for a couple of reasons but I make no promises that I won't add a running contact a year or two down the line, if the reasons I don't now go away (and one of them is inexperience so will).

 

It's still just another skill the dog and handler have and have learned and that can be used (or not). It's just teaching the dog. The more you and the dog have, the more you can use. It's not clear cut, it leaves lots of options and that means having to make decisions, but OPTIONS.

 

(Sorry for the flood of posts - my instructor and I have been talking about this a lot, lately, so it's on my mind).

By consistency I mean the dog and human both understand the desired behavior in relation to the cue given....that's all. Many dogs have both running and stopped contact and they can do both. Inconsistent would be to ask for a stopped contact but reward the dog for a running LOL :)

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No disagreement on his success Pam, but when I have been watching him recently on tv during recent internationals he looks like he really has to work hard to get to where he needs to be compared to those who use a combination of techniques and taken on board some of the newer ideas. For all my grumbling about Susan Garrets sales techniques her success and ability to adapt and take on new ideas to stay competitive is impressive and she has a good number of years on Greg. Agility is such a young sport and it is evolving all the time which makes it really interesting.

I've not ever worked with Greg, but I have worked with Laura and they are amazing trainers and handlers...however, there was just no way that I can get to positional cue for many of the courses that are out there today. It is an evolving sport and the brilliance of it is that there are many successful variations of handling.

 

OH - I had a working spot in the Winter Shape Up Dogs handling foundation but too much snow so was unable to post videos past the second lesson...I plan to get in on the Summer course instead...I look forward to getting some training in now that we are snow free!

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The handling that I learned with Tessa was Mecklenburg style, and I absolutely loved it, and I still use that style of handling with her.

I have actually just decided to create a custom handling system for Bandit. I can't do One Mind - it does not make intuitive sense to me and it saps the fun out of Agility for me (a lot like trying to train Freestyle on all verbal cues!!). I did learn some of Amanda Nelson's handling through the online classes that I took through Fenzi, and what I learned with that was excellent for him.

So I am going to meld together some Mecklenburg handling skills with Amanda's and then throw in whatever actually makes sense to both Bandit and me.

I am excited!! Bandit has led me into this new adventure and it feels fantastic!!! We are literally working together to suss out what makes sense to him, and what I can do to help him understand how to get through sequences.

 

As far as blind crosses go - LOVE THEM!!! I do them with Tessa all the time. I doubt I will use so many with Bandit, who will be ahead of me on course in places where Tessa is usually behind me! But I am not forsaking my blind crosses with Tessa as long as she and I run!!!!

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BTW, if anyone can explain to me how to handle using OMD with the dog 5 - 10 feet ahead on course that is not constantly back and forth like a pinball machine, I will be happy to listen . . .

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BTW, if anyone can explain to me how to handle using OMD with the dog 5 - 10 feet ahead on course that is not constantly back and forth like a pinball machine, I will be happy to listen . . .

Haha - I know nothing about OMD. Other than they seem to work the dogs excessively in the videos I see.

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BTW, if anyone can explain to me how to handle using OMD with the dog 5 - 10 feet ahead on course that is not constantly back and forth like a pinball machine, I will be happy to listen . . .

 

The system? Beats me. Most of what I used OMD stuff for was a tiny deaf dog who was sticking close anyway.

 

But their tandem turns are NADAC's switch, so I used them to learn it (I was hitting a wall) and I use about 9 million a weekend. It doesn't LOOK the same all the time because of distance, but they work to turn the dog even at pretty extreme distances. I used them in my open chances Q, even.

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Late to the conversation, but I love talking/thinking about this stuff.

 

When I started agility 8 years ago, my first trainer was a Derret/Garrett devotee. I was a novice handler with an extremely fast BC. And I am chronologically challenged, so it was not unusual that I was behind my dog. Luckily, my dog had great distance (a very large bubble), and I was able to layer certain obstacles - which was definitely frowned upon by my trainer as it didn't follow the Garrett system. She kept telling me that I COULD get in position if I could just run faster. Same thing with rear crosses since Garrett preferred front crosses.

 

The trainer was a very nice handler with medium speed Springer Spaniels. When she tried to show me how to handle certain sequences with my dog (who is a love and is happy to work for anyone), she also was left in the dust. After that, she worked with me on 'alternative' handling for certain sequences.

 

That experience, and as a general rule, I am not a fan of a rigid system either. I feel that everyone should use whatever works for the team - both human and dog. Obviously, if one aspires to the top levels of agility, certain methods are better than others, but there is still room for flexibility. On the other hand, I see plenty of local handlers who are very happy with doing things the way they always have, and they make it work.

 

I prefer to always try and improve and have multiple tools in the toolbox. In my area, flicks used to be verboten, Now flicks are OK. Same with blind crosses. Many people have happily adopted them.

 

Tracy Sklenar, the coach for one of the US world teams this year and owner of Agility University online classes, lives in my area, but does NOT teach local classes. DAMMIT. She is so busy with everything else. BUT, the last time she gave a clinic in our area (10 months ago?), she was saying that the trend is to always keep running forward (no or only a few deceleration cues) and use verbals, hand motions, and ?? to handle the dog. [sorry not to be more specific since it was just a short snippet of conversation. Nothing on a detailed level.]

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Tracy Sklenar, the coach for one of the US world teams this year and owner of Agility University online classes, lives in my area, but does NOT teach local classes. DAMMIT. She is so busy with everything else. BUT, the last time she gave a clinic in our area (10 months ago?), she was saying that the trend is to always keep running forward (no or only a few deceleration cues) and use verbals, hand motions, and ?? to handle the dog. [sorry not to be more specific since it was just a short snippet of conversation. Nothing on a detailed level.]

Yes, the only time we decel now is if we are turning the opposite direction...I had a teacher tell me that if you weren't pulling your dog off a jump 9/10 times your timing was always late...LOL...

 

Bummer that she doesn't teach classes! She must be super busy.

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BTW, if anyone can explain to me how to handle using OMD with the dog 5 - 10 feet ahead on course that is not constantly back and forth like a pinball machine, I will be happy to listen . . .

I am at a loss on that one as well, in their promo material they say the system can be used for any dog/handler team but I haven't seen it yet. OMD have become all about slick marketing, I was intrigued by their ideas to start but the idea of learning 30+ combinations is just beyond me and now living in Spain and training with different Nationalities I have realized that lots of people use the same turns but with different names, who started which, who knows. We have had lots of conversations that go you want a "what" followed by ahhhhh you mean a blind then a half front cross .... that's a -----------

 

 

Tracy Sklenar, the coach for one of the US world teams this year and owner of Agility University online classes, lives in my area, but does NOT teach local classes. DAMMIT. She is so busy with everything else. BUT, the last time she gave a clinic in our area (10 months ago?), she was saying that the trend is to always keep running forward (no or only a few deceleration cues) and use verbals, hand motions, and ?? to handle the dog. [sorry not to be more specific since it was just a short snippet of conversation. Nothing on a detailed level.]

That is what the Canadians from Shape Up are teaching, the idea that you train independence, and your motion supports the verbal but the dog understands what's required. If you run a large fast dog it makes a huge difference being able to leave and go, so you can be in position for the next critical set of cues. An example is the way my youngster is learning back, back means go back and jump, my older dog goes back but doesn't commit to the jump in the same way.

In another example this weekend we had two American dogs mine and a friends border collie who understand the use of an opposite arm/threadle arm and at the seminar this weekend, we were working on a discrimination that is rare in Spain but common in NADAC the Dog walk, tunnel side by side, but it came with an added challenge of having to layer a jump and send to a tunnel, as the dog walk prevented you physically from getting there (tricky bit of course design) the handlers with the threadle arm where able to blast of and being much further ahead than the other teams who were putting in a blind to a half front while running, that was the way the trainer wanted it done but he did admit that when trained the threadle arm worked well.

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Bummer that she doesn't teach classes! She must be super busy.

 

Yes. Overseeing Agility University, training and trying to compete with several dogs in various stages of training, traveling (sometimes for 2 weeks at a time) to give clinics all over the country, coaching the world team - doesn't leave much time. Oh, and I think there may be some sort of book in the works.

 

We (local agility peeps) were all so excited when we heard she was moving to our area. Her husband got a job here, and I think she was happy to move from upstate NY to a more moderate climate. She has been here for less than a year.

 

Disappointed not to be able to use her as a training resource, but I understand.

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I am at a loss on that one as well, in their promo material they say the system can be used for any dog/handler team but I haven't seen it yet. OMD have become all about slick marketing,

 

What I have found is that since all of the instructors stated teaching using OMD, the courses that we work on in class have morphed into very tight courses with a lot of wraps, tight turns, backsides, and back forth back forth back forth, and very little flat out running through long, straighter, or more flowing, sequences. And that is all we work on now.

 

Bandit did his first CPE trial this past weekend and he was literally glowing after we left the ring.

 

I realized that it was the first time in his life he had ever actually RUN Agility on a full course!!!

 

So, yeah, it can work for every dog on a super tight course with a lot of wraps and backsides and so forth that prevent the dog from ever getting much ahead. (I guess that's what AKC courses have become?)

 

But I am at a loss to see how it can work on the kinds of courses that my dog and I are actually going to be running in competition . . .

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But I am at a loss to see how it can work on the kinds of courses that my dog and I are actually going to be running in competition . . .

 

I will tell you bluntly that my agility instructor has told me quite directly that systems designed for international style courses do NOT work for NADAC. Period, the end. That there are some bits, yes, but they're mostly crossover bits, and I'm honestly inclined to agree with her. NADAC requires some specialty stuff and doesn't require other technical skills. Obstacle performance is the same, but a lot of things that you'll encounter there aren't present anywhere else, and there's a ton of things you just don't need (like backsides).

 

I do not know CPE well but from what I've seen it's probably somewhere between AKC and NADAC in that it's just not stuff you're going to use the way you would on an international style course.

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And, yes, marketing.

OMD has a lot of 'rebranded' things in there - amongst their crosses and turns there's a lot of stuff that's existed for half of forever with a shiny new name.


Tandem turn:

https://www.oneminddogs.com/article/tandem-turn-agility-handling-technique/?lang=en

 

Switch - which is the most basic nadac thing ever.

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So, yeah, it can work for every dog on a super tight course with a lot of wraps and backsides and so forth that prevent the dog from ever getting much ahead. (I guess that's what AKC courses have become?)

 

 

AKC courses have become a bit more like the European courses (tighter, backsides, etc.), but the novice courses tend to be quite wide open. And even at the higher levels, there can be a sequence that allows the dog to run flat out ahead of the handler. Not always, but still allowable under the rules. Some judges like to incorporate it because they know that everybody is training for the tighter courses, and it can be very challenging for dogs trained on the tight turns.

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What I have found is that since all of the instructors stated teaching using OMD, the courses that we work on in class have morphed into very tight courses with a lot of wraps, tight turns, backsides, and back forth back forth back forth, and very little flat out running through long, straighter, or more flowing, sequences. And that is all we work on now.

 

Bandit did his first CPE trial this past weekend and he was literally glowing after we left the ring.

 

I realized that it was the first time in his life he had ever actually RUN Agility on a full course!!!

. .

I am currently stuck in grade 1 in FCI with my experienced dog due to this phenomenon, outside of grade 1 the only time you see a flat out sprint across a course is as a trap for grade 3 dogs (grade 3 is harder to get in you need 9 clean runs in the same year and they call everything) in grade 1 we usually have a flat out sprint all round the course, I have run one without needing to do a real cross! So all our fancy training means nothing when your dogs head has exploded and he doesn't want to weave as it's stopping the fun, got one of my precious points on a course where only two dogs had a recorded time (the other was my training/traveling partner) as you had to handle, nothing challenging but there were some reall control points.

 

There is very little you can take from OMD and many of the other handling styles and use in NADAC. NADAC has eveloved into its own branch of agility, most of the other flavors are variations on "standard" agility that competitors the world over would recognize and the techniques work for. NADAC is evolving in a different direction. I started in NADAC in 2009 and then it still looked like "agility" very few hoops and by the time I started competing with Rievaulx in 2011 hoops had started to become standard, I last competed in 2014 and it has changed substantially since then.

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