The Need for Speed

Posted: November 7, 2011 in Performance & Judging
Tags: , ,

A recent discussion among rally coaches brought up the question of how to increase speed on the course. With no half-point deductions many rally runs end up with the same score, so placements are often determined by the fastest course time. I think all the coaches concurred that the best times are the result of correct sign recognition and execution.

To quote Chip from Tacoma “the number of times you will lose a placement for time is small compared to the
number of times you will lose for mistakes.”

Some coaches shared stories of handlers rushing through a course only to end up missing a sign completely. Several coaches noted the structure of the dog can also be a factor. A short-legged dog just can’t cover space as fast as a quick-footed herding dog. And long-bodied dogs need to use more concentration to get around cones without bumping.

Everybody’s favorite rally mentor,  Ruthann from Arizona sums up the best way to have a good course time in rally. And a good time, too.

  • Brisk pace throughout the course (This is so important, shows the judge you are confident and helps your dog stay focused.)
  • Quick responses on each and every exercise and each and every part of the exercises (This reinforces the appearance of teamwork between you and your dog.)
  • A dog working with focus and attention (Shows that your dog is happy to be there which, I believe,  relates to how you train.)
  • Dog that doesn’t have to be lured or coaxed (Again, a function of relationship and training.)
  • Handler standing upright and walking in a natural manner- bending over makes you slower (We see far too many handlers  like this. Erin even saw a handler lie on the ground while urging her dog to Down!)
  • Work smoothly – lots of flow and teamwork from both dog and handler (Do I need to repeat that? Teamwork.)

If you concentrate on achieving each of Ruthann’s points, a good course time will naturally follow.

And by the way, why are you entering trials if you aren’t doing all of the above?

  1. Ayoka Bubar says:

    I agree, a course performed with no retries and a dog that is responsive to the FIRST cue are the best ways to ensure a high placement, regardless of speed or size of the dog.

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