Plan a course that plays to your dog’s strengths
Yes, sometimes that means not going for all sevens! As tempting as it is to try for all sevens, if the seven point obstacle is not your dog’s strong suit it might be better to look at some other options. Try to go for the highest pointed obstacles that your dog excels at. Remember - at the end of the day this is a game and it is much more fun to keep playing rather than be whistled off the course!
Plan your handling for your specific course
Once you’ve decided which coloured/pointed obstacles on the field you are going to take, plan your handling from the startline into the first red jump, then from each red to pointed obstacle. Create a handling plan and walk it as if it were a set course - this will help you run smoother and get a better time. As well, be conscious of where the closing starts (#2) and try to have your opening sequence end close to it.
Handle Lines, Not Obstacles
Always an important reminder! In these games it is very easy to forget about the dog’s lines and only think about the obstacles we want them to take. From your dog’s perspective this is still an agility run and as handlers we still need to remember to create and execute handling plans that make reading the course an easy as possible for your dog.
Be aware of where all the red jumps are
Although your plan might not include all the red jumps, it’s a good idea to have an idea of where all of them are. You should definitely create a solid plan, but also be aware of the full course set up so you can react quickly if the original plan doesn’t work. If, for example, your dog knocks a red bar or faults a pointed obstacle it is good to have a few plans in mind so you don’t have to stop and look around for too long during your run!
Walk the closing and create a handling plan for all seven as marked
Remember, the closing must be taken as marked, so once you finish your opening (which consists of a course you create) you must move into a sequence as marked by the judge. Make sure you analyze the dog’s lines as if it were a regular Agility or Jumping run and handle the dog’s lines, not obstacles.
If the whistle hasn’t gone - keep playing!
You might feel as though you are eliminated because your plan didn’t go exactly as you expected, but sometimes you just have to take a deep breathe and think on your feet. If the judge hasn’t blown the whistle, you are still in the game! Here you can watch a funny video of OneMind Dogs Instructor Hannah Eskow thinking on her feet after her young Jack Russell, Rizzo, decides to make up her own Snooker course!! Hannah thought they were out after the third obstacle when Rizzo decided to head towards an off course tunnel but she called her back just in time! The run a little chaotic, but the team didn’t give up even after all the plans went out the window - that is teamwork!