There's Always a Way

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!

Janita & Jaakko



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Kandy Robinsonlast year

Is there a copy of that course somewhere ? I would like to try my skills with my Border Collie. I am not a spring chicken and I have both knees replaced. I can run somewhat, but I have trained my Border Collie to do distance work as well as us a lot of the OMD Techniques. I have been a member for a while now and I am always looking for a way to use them in a trial and practice them before.

Jenni Leino4 years ago

@Annie Thorne I think the best thing for me personally has been doing a lot of practice without my actual dog. Instead, I take my virtual dog with me to those practice sessions :) With the virtual dog I can do as many repetitions of one technique in a row as I want and he won't get tired! Being a person who has always struggled with coordination I have found repeating things many times in a row very helpful. It's not just about doing repetitions but also thinking (and hopefully understanding) WHY you do those things and what do they mean to your dog. As an instructor I ask my students to always practice a new move several times before they take their dog with them. If you can't do it without your dog, you will most likely not be able to do it with the dog, either :)

Annie Thorne5 years ago

Do you have any advice for handlers who struggle with timing and coordination? In my head I know what I want to do (or try to do), and I watch all your videos and understand the method/philosophy but when it comes to the actual 'doing' it is not very smooth, or coordinated or even correct! Help! I have certainly managed to prove to myself and my dog that when we do it right we do it good ... but so many times it falls apart due to my poor execution ... Is there any hope?!

Kathy Zook Miller5 years ago

I don't really understand why anyone would say that OMD is only for young, fast handlers because you've made it very clear from the beginning with the Challenges that dog training - training skills like distance and even verbal cues - is important to OMD. I would like to run like Janita - but even if I could - it would only be for a stride or two as I scurry to get to a critical point on course. I have an artificial knee that doesn't operate like a normal knee and is not made for acceleration and deceleration - I know this and so I have adopted a more walking/jogging pace that gets me around the course with the occasional send the dog and run! as best I can to the next critical point. . . and so on. I find everything I need to help me solve the puzzles of handling (and training, frankly) here with OMD.