Looping through this Communication Cycle
provides consistent outcomes on any Course
Staying in the loop of Connection, Commitment, and Cueing between every two pieces of equipment will become second nature, a split-second routine that happens automatically, by the time you and your dog are a truly proficient team. In the beginning, however, it’s a process that needs attention and requires a good deal of effort in order to ensure that the communication cycle remains intact and your dog always knows “what’s next” at the precise moment when they need to act on that information. Those who are not aware of “The Loop” always find themselves baffled by when to give the cue on a change of direction or choice in a discrimination. Too soon, and your dog may ‘pull off’ the piece of equipment that they are currently headed toward, too late and your dog may be headed for a wide turn or an off-course obstacle. “The Loop” gives you the certainty you need to cue at just the right time and ensure consistently clean runs.
So here’s the “Step by Step”:
Connect: This is a simple glance to know exactly where your dog is located and where they are heading. That’s your end of the connection; on the dog’s end, all you need to know is that they can see one of your cheeks. If they’re not seeing some of your face, your dog will wander until the connection is re-established.
Commit: The moment that your dog turns their head from you to the piece of equipment that they are about to perform, they are “committed”. At the point of commitment you can’t pull your dog off and go a different direction. We have all seen a dog commit to an off-course piece of equipment and we’ve all had that same feeling watching your dog go off course just like the feeling when you let go of the car door while realizing that the keys are about to be locked in. All we are doing here is observing the point of commitment for good instead of evil.
Cue: Once your dog is committed to a piece of equipment you are free to start moving toward whatever is next. Because you have started to “move on”, your dog will naturally follow once they have completed the jump, tunnel, or whatever they have been trained to complete.
“The Loop” is your key to ensuring timely information. If you develop it to a personal routine you will never have to guess WHEN to feed new information to your team mate, avoiding the quandry “Should I Stay or Should I Go?“!