Communicating with Your Dog From a Distance, Why it’s So Cool!
Thanks to dog agility training for the photo!
I just got back from agility nationals; or more correctly NADAC (North American Dog Agility Counsel, LLC) CHAMPS (Championships).
And, I have to say it was amazing!
I must admit, I was not competing!!! I was not competing this time at least; perhaps some year we can aspire to make it to NADAC CHAMPS but that is going to take a lot of work, time and perhaps money!
The world of dog competing is not a cheap one! But that is okay, I think my dogs and their titles and my free time is an investment and what better way to invest than playing games with your dog??
Not only was I NOT competing… I didn’t even bring a dog, nor did my agility instructor; we just went to hang out and watch and learn from a far and of course work and help out!
The Most Amazing Thing
Okay there were many amazing things so let’s talk about how they can improve your relationship with your dog even if you don’t do agility!
Have you ever seen a national agility run?
I’m not talking about a regular trial, but the dogs that have qualified on a national level; have you ever watched them compete?
Not to say that they don’t make mistakes, but they are SUPER fast!
And they are fast because they have found PURE JOY in their sport, or obedience, or skill or whatever you want to call it.
Structured agility is after all obedience. The dog does have to listen to you; but the difference is that he WANTS to he enjoys it, he finds true JOY in it!
Don’t get me wrong, I know that people train their dogs to be super-fast and partly it is a training tactic. But that is also usually through games.
If you aren’t fast enough no toy or treat or reward, try again; if you are fast enough you get to play or get your reward!
The Other Amazing Part?
Off Leash Communication (some body language only) From a Distance
People use their bodies to tell their dog’s where to go!
By a subtle change in where the shoulders are pointed and pointed movements by the hands, a person can tell the dog which jump, hoop, or obstacle to take.
Those of you who don’t know or haven’t had the joy in taking an agility class or competing don’t necessarily realize the agility course is set up to have your dog make mistakes; it is a “sport” about control after all!
So after your dog has run as fast as he can through the tunnel, there may be a jump set up directly after that so that is what your dog sees first as he exits the tunnel, but he is supposed to make a hard right turn and take a different turn.
If you are not fast enough with your commands and your body language, you are in the wrong place and you are not quick enough to reconnect with your dog, your dog will take the wrong jump.
The wrong jump is considered “off course” and you are out, meaning usually disqualified.
The speed is incredible and then to have the timing to ask your dog to do the right thing is even more magnificent; add to this the fact that your dog is taking a winding course through 17 (I can’t remember exactly ha ha) or more obstacles and jumps in about 30-60 seconds it is mind blowing.
So Why Can’t We Even Get Our Dogs To Come Off Leash
It made me wonder, why can’t most people even get their dog to come to them off leash.
Some might say that an agility event is a fairly well controlled environment but the truth is there are people and dogs and food and all kinds of distractions going on; and the dog’s don’t care.
The only thing they want to do is play the game.
Why can’t we make coming to us when called a game?? For more on how to do that click here Coming When Called No Matter What.
And, why if our dogs aren’t listening to us are we letting them run free? For more on why running free without control ruins your obedience click here.
And then poses the question if they can maintain this kind of control just with their bodies in the ring; why then can we not have controlled off leash obedience?
But that my friends, is for another post! Keep your eyes peeled for tips on off leash obedience skills!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.