Just as there is a vast versatility of dogs, there are also different types of handlers. One of the challenges for OneMind Dogs coaches is to find handling solutions for everyone.
Sometimes we get to hear that OneMind Dogs handling is for young and fast handlers. People saying this could not be more wrong! One of our main goals is to be able to get through the courses no matter if we are in front, behind, left or right side of the dog in any sequence. Even if we could run somewhere and do a Front Cross and stay ahead of the dog, we always train the same sequence with the options that if we could not run there on time and we need to negotiate through the course by handling from behind of the dog, or from lateral distance. We have all kinds of students and this type of training helps us to help them to find the solutions even if they can't run fast or in some cases, run at all. Versatile training makes us better coaches and our dogs more skillful.
Once I had a student that couldn't see well. Her field of vision got smaller and smaller and in the end she would be blind. I wanted to understand her perspective to handle. She brought me a pair of glasses which had only a really small holes in the middle, so I saw basically a tiny area in front of me and not at all to my sides. I can tell you it was really scary to start running! I only saw one obstacle at a time and the dog just in a few places during the whole course. I learned to understand that she needed different choices to not run over the obstacles and the dog. It was an eye opening experience for me in order to try to understand her agility world better.
Our oldest student we have worked with was over 80 years old and we were warned beforehand that she doesn't run a step and she has a fast Border Collie. We tried to handle our courses by walking, not allowed to take any running steps. We had to make some different solutions and take some jumps in a different direction to get through our courses, but we did it. Everybody who has been on our training knows that our training courses demand handling, but even those courses can be done by walking, because we have so many techniques in our toolbox and our dogs have been trained skillful. Here is just a small example on a video. We planned the courses for one of our seminars and wanted to try if we can get through them without taking a running step.
We encourage and drive our students to run, but it's only because we want them to challenge themselves to try their best and give all they got. If you can't run or use your hands or see well, we always do our best to help you too. Our answer never is "run faster or you can't do it", if you are not able to do something. We have solutions to all kind of handlers and if we don't we do our best to find the solution. It can be a skill we teach the dog or we can find a new handling solution to get it done. Challenge us and we all get better!