Speeding up the Slow Dog

From Emily Venator
Venham Bearded Collies & Border Collies
Mon Jul 14 09:11:55 1997

Hi Gretchen & Allie

From two who have been there and done that ... Currently we run Denia (Beardie) and Jake (Border) in AKC Excellent, and have two Novice dog's that are completely different. We are also starting two Beardie boys who are 2 1/2 and have tons of enthusiasm, the task with them is to master the accuracy. We also compete in Flyball, another sport that requires speed.

First, what level are you competing at, and what height division? The 100's are great, but you will likely find that you will need to count on some extra speed as well as Allie's accuracy on the obstacles.

For dogs that lack enthusiasm, we found that adding a "chase" game into the sport helps to speed them up. Our one Beardie "Hope", was a velcro dog, very accurate, and dependable but not a speed demon. These are some exercises that we used to help successfully speed her up.

Don't leave Allie at the line, make it more exciting for her by running with her to the obstacles. You may have to start far back from the line, so that you can get a good "rev" going. This game may cause her to bark, but as long as it doesn't interfere with her performance its not a problem.

Practice doing restraint recalls over a straight line of jumps, (starting with 2, then 3 etc.) they don't have to be set at competition height. Have someone hold her as you run away from her, giving verbalm enticement all the way, if she is motivated by a ball or toy, show that to her, and encourage her. Have your friend release her as you are between the 1st & 2nd jump. As your dog is released run away in a straight line, tossing the toy forward as she approaches you. HEAPS of praise for the speed!

The object of the exercise is for Allie to race so hard that she catches you. Your "releaser" always has to time their release so that you can stay a little ahead of her, making her want to try harder to catch you.

You can add commands to the game, with Allie being held at the start you don't have to worry about her breaking a stay. As you are leaving say "Ready", when your at the first jump "SET", and when she is released
"GO", it won't take her long to key in to the chase.

This can be transfered to the ring, hold her gently at the line, and give the commands "Ready, Set, Go" as you start your run, she'll know the game is on! We use "GO" in the tunnels as well to increase the speed.

In practice, we rarely run a course. Instead, we run a number of sequences, adding more to the exercise as the dog shows increased speed, and accuracy. This keeps our dogs "wanting more", and not getting bored with repetitive stuff. A training session may be 10 minutes long, and involve a short sequence with us ending the session before the dog with a game of ball or frisbee. We have equipment set up in the yard, making our "short & sweet" training sessions easy.

Do you have someone videotape your runs, and practice? Does she only walk the broad jump at a trial, or in practice as well? Does she only walk the Broad Jump when the landing is in a corner of the course, or the landing requires a tight turn to the next obstacle?

When we analyzed our runs after a walked broad jump, or a knocked bar, we usually found that we had changed our pace. Jake, one of our Border Collies often knocked the last bar on course, after checking tape we found that the handler changed their speed as they approached the finish line, throwing the dog's stride off, and causing the dog to flatten out over the jump. A conscious effort to maintain a "balanced" pace the entire course has kept the bars up this year!

For us the walked broad jump has turned out to be the same problem, when approaching the broad, or a spread, the handler increased their stride hoping that our added speed would help the dog get over the jump, instead we were causing our dog's to change their stride, and often tick the last board. If you don't already try using a different command for the Broad Jump, giving Allie a que that its different from a bar. Practice with the boards close together and a non-winged jump between the boards, helping Allie to arc over the jump, with success, gradually increase the distance of the jump. Use her toy in this exercise as well, tossing it forward when she is in mid-air.

Hope some of these ideas help, looking forward to seeing the BAD T-shirts you're designing!

Emily Venator
Glenn Hamilton

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