Shiva Handling 101

Since I have no idea how familiar most of you are with the mechanics of dog agility, I will try to keep my explanations really simple. If it’s too simple, just yell at me. Furthermore, I only know the rules as far as the Canadian Agility Association of Nova Scotia (CAANS) is concerned. Different associations across the world may have much different standards.

This last weekend we participated in another fun match, which is held at one of our instructors’ country property. I don’t know if it was the colder weather but only a handful of people showed up this time – all people we know very well. In many ways it made it more fun. No one was judging, no one was impatient for their turn, and everyone was full of helpful advice. It ran more like an extended class than a mock trial.

That doesn’t mean it was easy! As the skill levels of everyone vary so greatly, the courses have all been at a Masters level. Which is the highest level one can achieve.

I’ll give you an example. Below is a Masters Jumpers course map (click to embiggen), very similar to one of the courses we ran this last weekend. Jumpers is one of the many classes, essentially it is a course made up only of jumps and tunnels with no contacts (ie. teeter) or weave poles (good news for my weave-destroying dog).

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If you have never seen one of these before, the side the number is on is the side from which the dog is supposed to take the obstacle. The jumps require some pretty quick and precise handling to get around. With a crazy fast dog who likes to design her own courses, I have to get my cues out perfectly otherwise it’s all over.

To show you the difference, I will now share a Starters Jumpers course map. The level we will be starting at if we ever make it to a real live trial.

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Hopefully you can see that the course moves in a much more logical manner. The dog and handler just have to follow a basic line. There is a fancy pin wheel between jumps 4, 5, and 6 but other than that it is fairly straightforward. Easy to memorize and easier to cue one’s maniac dog around.

Well, in theory anyway.

While a friend and I did a lot of griping this weekend about the extreme level of difficulty for us green handlers, it is probably a good thing we are learning on challenging courses. One, it makes me feel pretty good when I nail a tough handling move. And two, when we do start trialing, the starters courses should seem pathetically easy. We should breeze through our first year with no problem.

Well, in theory anyway.

Due to the fact this weekend’s match was more instruction than trial, I don’t have a painstakingly edited video to share with you. Is that rejoicing I hear? Don’t celebrate too long. There is another fun match this weekend at a park Shiva has never been to before. You know I won’t be able to resist uploading the disaster that is bound to come from that deadly combination!

I couldn’t resist sharing a small snippet of the video my PH did manage to film. Mostly because I want to show off how I got Shiva to go around a jump before taking it and coming back to me. It’s not a move we have ever practiced before. I feel so good about it, I barely remember her blowing me off to eat leaves at the start of the course.

Barely.

30 thoughts on “Shiva Handling 101

  1. Yay! Congratulations!

    I’ve tried to understand agility explanations before, to no avail. I think its cool that a fellow rescuer and unpretentious dog person has gotten so into it.

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  2. I really am impressed with how far you and Shiva have come. Agility looks so difficult, but you are making great progress. I appreciate the explanations because I know so little about how agility works.

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  3. Awesome! We’ve been out of agility for over a month and we miss it terribly!! So the thought of any course–way out of our league or not–sounds like fun! I say that shayne and rio are agility “fakers” they missed most of the foundation classes… they stepped into an Intermediate class right off the bat and quickly got put into the advanced intermediate class (for space reasons)… so we’ve been doing things WAY beyond our means and we have more fun that way because I fail all the time. If they ever get to a competition I’ll love that the courses they run will be so much easier!

    It sounds like you had an awesome and fun day–and that’s what it’s all about!

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  4. I watched the video and I am so impressed. I love seeing the great connection with you and Shiva. Im always impressed when I see agility trials done. Im lucky if I can get fred to just sit. 🙂

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  5. congrats! sounds like loads of fun!
    I just started a class last night that shows a bit of all sorts of dog sports – super excited, especially hearing all about Shiva’s agility stuff 🙂

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  6. Thanks for the explanation. It looks like so much fun, you have me convinced. I like to give it a try with Kenzo too …. and I am doing something about it: we enlisted next tuesday in a week from now to do a trial class. Lets see if Kenzo likes it !

    Loved the video. Shiva has so much focus on you, great teamwork!

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  7. wow, I have a LONG way to go…. can’t wait till this showing is over with and I can focus on hunt and agility with her. I am hoping to at least attempt to run her at nationals in the spring. We need to do a lot of work too, her handling pretty much sucks, I am tempted to incorporate some toys with her somehow to gain some focus. I have NO idea how I will ever remember a course though, this is why I never did dressage on horses.
    Thanks for sharing, and great work, I’m impressed
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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  8. Bravo! Shiva is really focusing on you – that’s great progress. The diagrams of the course are pretty confusing. I suppose they get easier to read with practice, but they remind me of a ballroom dance and I’m afraid I’d be all over my partner’s feet.

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  9. I think I am going to need a course to learn how to read those maps. Loved the video! Shiva is so focused on you 🙂 Does Shiva’s speed ever cause you problems? We were working on serpentine in class on Saturday. I could just not get in front of Sophie in time to signal her to the next jump. She was going way faster than me.

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  10. Wow! Go Shiva!! We tried an agility class with Cali when she was younger but all she could focus on was treats, treats, TREATS!!! Her treats, everyone elses treats . ..she would run through the obstacle just to get another treat! She loves to run through and over things so we thought she would be a natural . . .Shiva looks like she is having so much fun! Can’t wait to see more videos 🙂

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  11. Holy cow Kristine! I have such a new appreciation for what you are doing. I never realized it was so complicated. I look at that Master’s Course and thought, “there is now way I could ever remember all that.”
    How do you remember which way to go with each jump? It really makes me appreciate how much the handler’s role is in the whole process. I mean I knew you had to have a well-trained dog, but who knew you had be train as well? Yikes!

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  12. It’s all foreign to me but I think you looked great together and sounds like you learned a lot from doing the more challenging course. In the clip it looked like you really had her attention, which is really great.

    Good luck at the next one! We will be rooting for you.

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  13. I think what I love most about seeing agility training videos is that you never see any discouragement whatsoever. Where traditional training would tell the dog not to take that next jump, Shiva gets rewarded for directing to you when you Yip. So awesome.

    Elli and I practice this with other dogs, mostly, as they’re a huuuuge distraction for her. 🙂

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  14. I’m at a Via Rail station and it won’t let me view your video. 😦 I hope I remember to go back and see! I’m still waiting for you to come visit and train Our Best Friend on jumps and weave poles. I think teeters would freak him out, he’s such a wuss…

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  15. Shiva’s focus on you is awesome:) I’d say the only way for you guys is up! There is no way I could make my way around an agility course in the correct sequence unless it was only 4 jumps in a straight line. I’m impressed with your memory!

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  16. When ever I look at jump courses I get these slight twinges of dread. For a few years – when I actually had money to spend on horses – I would occasionally go to horse shows. So I have to memorize the hunter course AND steer a one ton animal through it AND look good for the judges! Yeah, no pressure there and nobody (dogs or horses) wants to go off course, that’s just bad.

    The video was awesome, but I did notice a problem. Back pockets are NOT a substitute for a treat bag! I am going to do a DIY treat bag tute for the website and you will get the finished product 🙂

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  19. Shiva’s focus on you is awesome:) I’d say the only way for you guys is up! You two are amazing! I like to give it a try with Kenzo too …. The diagrams of the course are pretty confusing.

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  20. It really makes me appreciate how much the handler’s role is in the whole process. Where traditional training would tell the dog not to take that next jump, Shiva gets rewarded for directing to you when you Yip. I have NO idea how I will ever remember a course though, this is why I never did dressage on horses.

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