The seminar we took was Intermediate/Advanced Handling. Dawn has developed her handling methods based on what her dogs have responded to over the years. It does include motion, and verbals. Since European agility is a win based system. That is, you must win to progress, their focus for training and running is much different from ours. They train the dogs to drive and be obstacle focused. In the absence of a cue, Dawn wants her dog to continue to drive through the course and their line. She focuses on cuing in a fashion that never leaves the dog second guessing (therefor slowing down). Not a bad goal really. They never reward their dogs "on them", that is they always reward in a way that promotes drive like throwing the toy.
Dawn is very firm about positive training. She believes that dogs are basically honest and don't try to do the wrong thing. If they took a wrong course in a trial, it is because you cued it. You better figure out what you did to cue it.
Rather than focusing on exclusively jumping, we spent quite a bit of time working on handling and trying in a short session to understand how she handles her dogs. When Dawn handles she has the concept of the accelerator arm and the break hand. The accelerator arm is the arm closest to the dog and must support the dogs path and obstacles. The break hand (arm extended out with a flat hand) tells the dog that they must collect (probably a turn is coming up). She also uses the outside arm much like Greg Derrett would do as a cue for the dog to come into you. The middle jump on a serp (or snake as she calls it) is a great example of this.
Anyway, we enjoyed our time, I took away a few ideas, but I wouldn't say that the seminar was stellar. I was wanting more feedback on jumping and speed specifically.
A couple of tid bits that we took away. Hopefully they make sense out of context:
- Every front cross should be proceeded with the break hand
- You must run (draw with your path) the line that you want the dog to take
- Always be even (parallel) with the dog when layering, otherwise they will come into you
- Reward away from you--throw the toy
- Inside arm should never drop until the dog clears the bar (otherwise the bar will come down)
- Always reward after a rear cross with a baby dog