Speed Demon

The dog in the video is fast as fire, but as you can see, has about as much damage control! How could this run have been improved? What handler errors can you catch? What ‘tricks’ could the handler use to handle a dog that fast?

11 Comments on “Speed Demon

  1. I run a whippet. I’m on my third one. 1) They hate to be wrong and running around looks like a stress relief for this one not being sure what to do. 2) Mine hate to drill exercises and only want to play. We train in 5 minute segments in which I require super focus or we quit.

    Training my young whippet to weave on 2X2s took forever (in spite of what the experts say), but they learn independent weave pole performance from the beginning. AFter about a year, the light bulb really went on and he suddenly acted like he really understood the weave poles. Not having to babysit them from either side would be really better for this dog. This dog wants some space from the handler and may need a cue a whole obstacle ahead of time. My own whippet really starts rubbernecking and head checking if I don’t tell him where he is going. O. could really benefit her dog by teaching two things. First, “go on” to a thrown or dead toy or a target plate with food, so the dog can go in a straight line at least two obstacles ahead of her. Second, lateral distance so she can regularly work 6-10 feet to the side of the dog. It will give her better vision of where the dog is going and when she needs to give the commands because the dog is committed to the current obstacle. This dog looks like it will be more comfortable with lateral distance from the handler. That would also get the dog out of her face when it does not know where to go. Finally, because my dog does not have much stamina to run a lot of courses in training, we do a lot of skill work, such as “switch-wrap” on a verbal command, or “jump-wrap” so that I have an arsenal of verbal tools to tell the dog where to go in the trial. It also develops both front and rear cross turning cues and skills for both handler and dog. You can do it in the house with one jump if the weather is bad.

    Whippets are really good at taking off and self-rewarding. My whippets may love me, but they don’t work for the love of me; they want to know what they are going to be paid to know if it is going to be worthwhile. It will really help to find something that is worth this dog’s while to pay attention for two minutes, or 5 minutes.

  2. Point the path for your dog instead of wildly swinging your arms towards an obstacle at the last minute. Pre-que your ques and get your ques out one obstacle early. Be prepared to drive your dog from behind if you can’t keep up with his pace…that generally means more rear crosses than front crosses. Your dog is never the one that is wrong, constantly correcting him on course for your mistakes or late handling is a great way to confuse, frustrate and demotivate him. If your give a wrong or late command, and you send your dog off course, go with it, don’t correct it. You want your dog to think that you are brilliant and always know what you are doing so they never question your commands on course. Lastly, pay attention to your handling so you learn what to not do next time…and practice, practice, practice!

  3. Yes. We want him motivated, but not out of control. Also, something I forgot to mention was that the handler kept YELLING at the dog. I mean, you’ve got to be loud enough to communicate, but what the Whippet’s handler is doing is overkill. S/he needs to remember to keep it positive! 🙂

  4. What I see is that she isn’t drawing a nice path with her arm/hand. Arm goes down – hand flicks to the next obstacle. So it’s a little flick, then arm comes down so dog comes back, then a little flick, then arm goes down, dog comes back, etc.

    What about using that hand like a magic marker to draw the path for the dog so it knows where it’s going all the time. It has a clear path to follow at all times instead of having to wait for the flick.

  5. I have a Border Collie who at practice can be blazing fast! We just started trialing and she’s still getting used to the environment, she’s a bit nervous with everything going on around her. Her speed isn’t quite up there yet like at practice, but even with her not going her fastest, she still managed to get a first place finish in Steeplechase at her first trial! I’m in no way nearly quick enough to keep up, but have been working on distance control and gestures to direct her using my body.

    Keep in mind I’m a complete newbie at this, but just from learning with my girl and advice from our trainer I can make a few observations. What I noticed in the beginning right off the bat, she could have used a startline stay to position herself facing the dog, than release, turn, and direct towards the second jump. Her body language was directing the dog straight to the tunnel, rather than turning towards the jump.

    When the whippet takes the walk instead of the frame, she didn’t pull the dog towards her. She should have turned her shoulders, or done something to tell her dog to come in rather than continue on. Once the dog got away from the walk, then she could send towards the correct obstacle.

    Personally I use 2on/2off contacts to get her to wait. This gives me added control and a chance to catch up to send her to the next obstacle. Of course this is personal preference, but it really helps us with accuracy.

    The other important thing in our training, is to work on giving the commands earlier. As soon as she is taking the next obstacle, I’m already telling her what is after that. This allows her a chance to look ahead and make a decision early before she takes an off-course. So far it has worked great for us, and we can’t wait for our second trial at the end of the month!

  6. I noticed on the weave poles that she is blocking the path of the dog and by facing backward is stopping the fluid movement through the poles. It appears to confuse the dog.

  7. There’s something to be said for basic obedience and some handler focus. The dog is working for himself- the handler is not even a consideration. I have the same problem with one of my dogs in herding- and until she learns that she is working for me, she will be very limited in what she is allowed to do. Reward will be sheep- reward here should be going on to the next obstacle. I would never trial at this point!

  8. Definitely a fast dog that looks to it’s handler for alot of direction. Having a fast German Shepherd Dog, I’ve learned to give my cues much faster and to be decisive. It appearred this handler was using the same arm to direct the dog over jumps from different sides.

    I agree as well about using calming techniques, mine has no need to be wound up before a run, and in fact I usually turn our backs to the course when we are in the chute.
    Another idea, since the dog loves to run and jump so much, I’ve not done this, but have seen it, would be to pick the dog up and remove him from the course on the first error and major run around. That might improve his idea that he has to play by the handlers rules to play.

  9. What fast dog! That is amazing. The dog seems to love what he is doing

    I see the handler giving lots of big hand gestures, which excite the Wippet. Also, I would try perhaps not letting the be on course unless he is calm…or rather, somewhat under control!

  10. Looking for any help here – as I have a fast Corgi and I’m slow. You have to really concentrate on giving the commands early enough (unfortunately I run out of air by the end of the runs, so this can be a problem for me).

    The dog in the video really loves to run, and doesn’t seem to be upset when called back. My corgi gets upset and will quit working if I have to call him back – so now my goal is to keep positive and not let him realize he’d being called back. Worked well the last trial – we didn’t Q, but he didn’t quit working either.