Learning to handle your dog properly is a major role in dog agility training. This means communicating what you want your dog to do. Once your dog has the basics down, most errors that occur are due to the handler’s abilities. As a handler, you need to learn how to communicate what you want your dog to do or perform. One way to do that is to practice exercises that teach you how to better handle your dog.
Every dog has his own way of running the course. Some dogs need little guidance while others need the handler by their side at all times. By watching your dog and how much he relies on you to complete the course, you’ll be able to determine how much handling your dog needs.
To properly access the situation, try setting up two basic hurdles side by side and direct your dog to the right hurdle. Study your dog’s reaction as you send him to the hurdle. Does your dog leave your side or does your dog expect you to run or walk with him the entire way?
Then try making the course into an “S” shape where you’ll be starting on the inside line and crossing over in the middle so that you will stay on the inside line. Try first with a fast obstacle such as a hurdle, tunnel or series of hurdles in the center of the course. Send your dog over the hurdles and cross behind your dog so that you switch effortlessly.
Next, put a slow obstacle in the center of the course such as weave poles, a table or contact obstacle. Then continue with your dog until he gets to the downward edge of the contact obstacle. This will most likely be the second to last pole of the weaves. Cross in front of the dog and then continue him over to the next obstacle of the course.
Try handling your dog first using the inside line and then moving onto the outside line to get a proper feel for handling either side of the course. If you have a very fast paced dog, then you will have to slow him down while you take the outer line. Likewise, if you have a slower paced dog, then you may have to slow down on the inside line, then work on speeding your dogs performance.