Movement rules over all the other lines of communication.
Your dog will naturally follow your movement even before you start teaching him anything at all: try walking away from a little puppy, and you’ll see that he will run after you. If your other handling elements tell your dog to turn, but your movement tells him to go straight, he will go straight. In an agility course, you need to see the best lines for your dog to take, and run parallel to them. Put simply, when you accelerate and run, your dog will accelerate and run, and when you slow down and stop, your dog will do the same. We call this “rhythm changes” on the course, because when you move, your dog tries to move in parallel to you. As we don’t usually have time to slow down or stop whenever we want our dogs to turn, we have to give young and beginner dogs some basic training so that they can get used to our movement in a way that challenges their natural responses. With this training we can move on to the next obstacle earlier so we are ready for the next sequence. Movement is not just about running speed. It is also:
- Direction: Every step and the direction of your movement tells your dog either to commit to the next obstacle or prepare for the next sequence.
- Timing: The precise moment when you can move from one spot to the next on the agility course has a lot to do with how much you can trust your dog. A high level of trust buys you time to move on the course, because when you know that your dog will stay committed to an obstacle, you can get moving to your next position on the course before she finishes it. So when you use the different aspects of movement correctly, you can get to most of the obstacles in time, no matter how difficult the sequences are.