How does one go from avoiding a handling technique to using it in almost every course? You learn, like OneMind Dogs Assistant Coach Katelyn Scott did, that sometimes you must take a step backwards, to move forward.
Katelyn says: "Learning a new technique is usually an overwhelming experience, especially when thinking of the specifics of where and how to move each of your handling elements. This becomes even more difficult when the technique just feels awkward in general. Most of the handling techniques we cover are natural to the dog, so we often forget to mention that doesn’t mean it’s natural to the handler!
For the longest time in my training I would avoid doing False Turns. I always felt there were better, easier options… How could I ever feel comfortable using a technique that required me to take backward steps?! Especially after preaching for years to students “Don’t take backwards steps.” It’s easier to take forward steps however, I now realize backward steps have a very useful place in my toolbox.
I began to come across places in my courses that I couldn’t get to. Realizing that pushing for the Front Cross now translated to leaving the line behind my dog! I started to realize that the technique I dreaded became the simplest answer. While in most cases it still felt strange to move backwards, I could cue the line in a much calmer fashion. Instead of rushing another technique I could focus purely on how the dog was reading the cue and “let go” the moment they committed to the line. Instead of my dog having to suddenly Zig-Zag around me, she was able to take a direct line to her next obstacle. Something that seemed incompatible in my head also started to happen… I was leaving the technique ahead on the next line! Step backwards and letting the dog move across my feet ahead ended in me being ahead… The possibilities suddenly felt endless!
The False Turn, a technique I used to go out of my way to avoid, become a technique I now use at every competition."
Find the part 2 here, where Katelyn gives more detailed tips for executing the False Turn.