Your feet play a more significant role in handling than your arms.
When you think about it, you realise that your dog’s head is naturally quite low. So when our students are waving their arms around rather than using their feet, we ask them to get down on the ground and see what it looks like from where their dogs are.
The direction of your toes, and of the steps that you take, give a lot of information to your dog. You can use your feet to shape a turn, or to help your dog commit to an obstacle, by taking a step towards the takeoff point. The direction of your feet is important when sending the dog to obstacles from a distance, sending the dog to the far side of a barrel, to the “out” obstacle of a discrimination, whereever you are laterally further away from your dog.
In each technique every single step is important to take you seamlessly to your next position on the course. If you are not a very fast runner, it is even more important to learn to move effectively and smoothly on the agility course.
There are many ways to practice steps; visualizing training in your mind or even just at home as you move from room to another. We aim to train steps to a point where they are automatic on the agility course. This way, when executing different techniques during the course, everything happens naturally without needing to think about the elements separately.
In the walk-through before running a competition course or a training course, we plan our steps and how to move smoothly through the course.
The faster your dog is compared to you, the more important it is to learn to move effectively on the agility course. When developing the different handling techniques, we have watched things from the dog’s point of view, and also paid attention to the fact that in each technique, every single step helps the handler to move effectively towards to the next spot you need to be in. By learning the correct patterns for your steps, you can gain a huge advantage and make the transitions on the course faster and smoother.