June 28, 2006

Body Language

In The Beginner's Guide to Dog Agility: Fun, Frolic, and Fitness for You and Your Dog! Laurie Leach gives a summary of the body language used to communicate information in agility:

Eyes - Your dog is aware of where you are looking, look at the obstacle you want him to perform next.

Shoulders - They are a powerful communication tool. A turn of the shoulders indicates a change of direction, and the degree of rotation tells how sharp the turn will be. A drop of one shoulder is a cue that the handler is going to rear cross, or cross behind the dog.

Arms - There are three basic ways to use your arms, all arm signals are given with the arm closest to the dog. Bowling the dog is where, palm up, you swing the arm towards the next obstacle. Drawing a path is where you point with one finger moving your arm to show the dog the correct path to the next obstacle, so your arm is close to your body if your dog is to stay close to you, and your arm is outstretched if your dog is to stay further away. Pushing is using an open palm and a push motion to widen the dog's path away from you.

Feet - Dogs, particularly small dogs, learn to read your feet like the arrow on a compass. Your feet should face the next obstacle as soon as possible.

Position - Your position in relation to the dog also tells it where it is to go on course. Lead outs and front and rear crosses give precise information about where the dog is to go next.

1 comment:

steve said...

Hi Marj. Linda Mecklenberg had an article in Clean Run earlier this year(?) about all the body language in agility along with examples too.

She also included aceleration/deceleration too. So if you slow (also causes body to lean back) approaching a jump the dog should collect anticipating a tight turn. Similarly, continuing toward/past the jump w/o deceleration should cue the dog to extend over the jump.

On the arms "front" there are those who would say the Rear Cross is started with inside arm drawing the dog past the handler but the turn is actually initiated by the off side arm together with the handler's body motion turning toward the dog... If you are Rear Crossing with only the inside arm it is really more of a "flip" (which is becoming much frowned up here in the States - due to its being associated with sending dogs to a side obstacle instead of sending the dog forward to an obstacle - just a little wrist turn between going straight and an inside arm turn is all it takes for some dogs :^)

Best Regards