Physical v Verbal
Your dog will respond to body language over voice command (unless you have spent alot of time training him on voice commands).
Test this: Set up three jumps as shown below
Aim: Intermediate level test to see whether you dog will follow your verbal command to jump no.2, or follow your body language which tells him to turn and jump no.3.
Running your dog on the right. Between 1 and 2 clearly
give your verbal command for Right, then turn your body and move Left.
Most dogs will chose to follow your physical cue. Now try running your dog on the left, between 1 and 3 give verbal command Left and turn to the Right. Does this show how important your physical handling of the dog is? Have you done this without realising when you have run a course, and then been suprised that your dog 'took the wrong jump'?
IMPORTANT: This is not a training exercise. It is a test to give you an understanding of how your dog responds to your commands. Only do this once. Alway train for success. Some dogs are always going to be highly focused on body language, if this is your dog, be aware of this and use it as a strengh, if nessesary review your method of handling to utilise you dog's natural ability e.g. front crosses over rear crosses etc..
Even with a strong verbal command your dog will always be focused on your movements. Therefore do not give conflicting verbal and physical cues. Physically hold the line for the verbal cue until the dog has committed to the obstacle. Also remember that many dogs are put off by commands given when they are in the air over a jump and may knock the pole. Try to only call commands when your dog has his feet on the ground ie before he jumps.
© Ridinghood Dog Agility Club 2001