Sunday, November 20, 2011

Natural Take-Off Point

I find that when I attend seminars there is almost always one big point that you take away from your experience. Might not be the point of the seminar, but it is something you were ready to hear. I took one day of a Tracy Sklenar seminar last weekend. I have taken a seminar before from Tracy and I always find her funny, engaging, accurate with her comments/suggestions. She is one of the people that I always try to take a class from when she comes to town.

The big point that I took away from her seminar this weekend was Natural Take-off Point and how critical this piece of knowledge is in how you run and cue your dog. The NTP is determined by the following: Run your dog in full extension on a straight line of jumps (18 feet apart to mimic what you would normally see in a trial). The point at which they choose to take off is there Natural Take-off Point or NTP. The NTP really depends of many factors like structure of the dog, or if they are facing a tunnel (will be a little sooner). Tangle's NTP was about 5 feet before a jump, and 7 feet before a tunnel. So now that you know this magic number, you need to cue your dog right before their NTP. That magic distance is determined by NTP + time for the human to process the cue and get it out of their mouth + time for the dog to process. So, in Tangle's and my case it is about 7 feet or so.

What I really loved about this concept is some of the discussion that came along with this information. The biggest point is you don't want to cue your dog too early. Why? If you cue the dog too early, they throw in a bunch of collection strides, more than is needed. Yes, you will have a beautiful turn, but you will also have a slower course time.

NTP goes along with the premise that you want your dog to run the whole course in as much extension as possible. You only want the dog to put in as many collection strides as they need to execute the required turn (gentle turn, tight turn) and no more. Keep them powering through the course.