Are you familiar with the seven handling elements? Do you know how they work and how they affect your dog?
All OneMind Dogs handling techniques include elements of seven key factors to support the dog’s movement on an agility course and make it as easy and effective as possible. In every handling technique we try to get all the elements to support the same thing. The handler should be consistent with the training and never give mixed signals to the dog.
When we're talking about eyes as a handling element, we're actually talking about the handler's contact with the dog. Over many years, we have observed that the key need for a dog on an agility course is to stay in contact with the handler. The connection is needed after an obstacle, when the handler is directing the dog to commit to the line that leads to the next obstacle. The dogs that have not been taught to keep the commitment to obstacles, will need to have a contact with the handler during the whole course. This type of dogs will easily get refusals if the contact is missing.
Contact isn’t just about staring straight at your dog. In fact, you don’t even have to see your dog at all times. The most important element to maintain the connection is the direction of the handler´s head. In other words, the dog needs to see the side profile of your face, which indicates the running direction. As the dogs try to run where you are watching, often the best place to focus the look is the dog’s running line beside you.
When the line of connection is cutting out, or missing, the dog will actively seek to reconnect with the handler. If the dog has to seek for a connection, he will not be able to focus completely on performing obstacles ahead of him. It’s the handler’s job to secure the connection. In case of cuts or disconnection, the handler should reconnect with the dog.
Dogs always go to the direction that they are looking. Looking at an obstacle is the dog 's way to tell you that he has committed to the obstacle and will go there next. When you want your dog to focus purely on you, make direct eye contact with your dog.
Understanding the influence of different elements has enabled us to demonstrate what is, from the dog´s point of view, a good way to execute the techniques. On the OneMind Dogs handling technique videos the use and the influence of all seven elements are always presented individually. We also introduce the most common mistakes in execution of the techniques shown in the videos. The goal is to give the viewer a complete understanding of how each element works, and to demonstrate what impact variations have on the dog´s performance.