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.
Out of all seven handling elements, hands and voice are of least importance to the dogs, unless they are specifically trained to follow these elements. The rhythm of your movement, your position, and the direction of your gaze, chest and feet are much more meaningful to your dog.
Verbal cues tend to need a lot of teaching, as it’s not natural for dogs to understand them. Words are important for us people, but not for dogs.
The more you rely on the verbal commands, the less you tend to pay attention to the other elements of handling. The situation should be the other way around: dogs can read our body language naturally, but is not natural for them to listen to our words. Verbal cues should only be used to support the other handling elements.
In the OneMind Dogs method we don’t usually use obstacle names as a command. Our verbal cues tell the dog what will happen between the obstacles, like “slow down”, “go farther”, “take a connection to the handler” etc. One exception for this is contact-tunnel discrimination, where we teach our dogs to listen to verbal commands. We also use verbal commands when releasing the dog from the start line, contacts and table.
You can test how little your dog listens your actual words so that you handle every obstacle by saying a word that means nothing to your dog. For instance, say “spider”, when you send your dog to the tunnel. You might be surprised to see that it really doesn’t matter what you say, the way you use the other handling elements matters!
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.