Agility Training Challenge 7 [video]
The seventh Agility Training Challenge is about coming out of your own comfort zone.
For some agility handlers the comfort zone is staying as close to the dog as possible, all the time. They avoid handling the dog from a distance because it feels strange and hard. For some handlers the comfort zone means handling the dog from behind or from a distance. They are afraid of "not making it" if they start running, so it is safer to watch the situation from further away.
Challenge yourself into doing any of your training courses in two totally different ways: first do it running as fast as you can, and then do the same course with no running steps at all! Start by doing the course in the way that is easier for you, and then step outside of your comfort zone.
In this exercise the handlers who like handling from a distance will learn that in some situations it might be easier for the dog to read the course if he gets more information from the position of the handler. Some dogs will also run faster when they don't need to listen to the handler's verbal commands and make choices based on them, but instead get more help from the handler's movement and position. Those elements will help the dog to read the course and advance more fluently.
The handlers who are used to running to every obstacle will learn to trust their dogs: "Oh, he can do this, too!". They will also find out the possible lack of the dog's skills, even though the team can get through most of the courses in their own way. When you find these weaknesses, for example that the dog cannot do the contacts or the weaves independently, you can improve things by training your dog, instead of always trying to handle him better. If the dog's lack of skills forces the handler to be close to him all the time, the handler is setting limits to herself for what she can do on the course or where she can be positioned.
You can find the course map of this example course here, but you can use any other course plan in your training for this exercise.
Challenge yourself and your dog, and make you both better!
Previous OMD agility training challenges: