Author Topic: NADAC philosophy  (Read 6543 times)

Sharon Nelson

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NADAC philosophy
« on: May 16, 2012, 11:31:45 AM »
Hi, group.
    I will try to make a post without unintentionally hurting someone's feelings or putting people on the defensive...  here's to hoping!!

    As I go through emails and posts and people's "emotions" about a barrel or a hoop or whatever it might be..........   

    The biggest "issue" that I find is that NADAC is not "obstacle" focused.  We have always been about focusing on the teamwork between dog and handler and not necessarily about the physical performances of "obstacles".   A barrel or a hoop just becomes "natural" to us because that type of "obstacle" cannot just "be performed"... a dog is not going to just naturally "go" to a hoop or barrel.... they will "need" information from the handler on "how" to do those obstacles...... and that is "forever".... you can't just "teach" it one week and then use unclear handling the next week and just expect them to "do" them.... if the handling is weak, then the dog will not just give you a "freebie"... if you stop giving clear body language, then the dog doesn't even consider going to the hoop or around the barrel.
   
    Jean posted a video showing my weave training methods and is doing great after 6 lessons!!  Then because of the discussions on the list, she replaced her "C" shaped tunnel with a barrel just to see how her young dog would react.......... a perfect video!  Jean handles beautiful and he "performs" it great......... then Jean kinda expects him to just go around it on his own and he turns in front of it and follows her body language  to perfection......... Jean did not indicate a path around the barrel and he follows the path that she does draw perfectly!  Of course Jean laughs and goes on with it, as she "feels" how well he follows her......

    I am preparing some video of Busi........ and how interesting!!!  I placed her in front of a couple jumps with a "C" shaped tunnel at the end and no issue.......... from the head cam, she stares at that tunnel and I can make all kinds of "incorrect" body language and she flies to that tunnel with ease............ but then I put a barrel at the end and she will still go right to the barrel because of my body language and her "focus" has a "side" look to it as she always has me and my body language in view..... with the tunnel, as long as I verbally say "go tunnel" I could do hand stands and she is going to that tunnel!  But I can verbally say "go around" and she commits to the barrel, but she also will turn off that barrel with the smallest of "new" information from my body language.......... so with the barrel she stays committed to the "path" being indicated and with the tunnel she is committed to the "obstacle".

    And that is what upsets so many people when they come to seminars and such.... if they are going to be very successful with EGC or hoops or barrels, they must handle with "perfection" or the courses are next to impossible.   EGC is all about "path" and the ability for a handler to clearly communicate "where" they are to go and has nothing to do with "what obstacles" are to be performed.........  and people either hate it or love it........

    NADAC and it's courses have always been about "path" and not about "obstacles" but we have failed some of our "ideal" tests since it is so easy to teach "obstacle focus" on a course of pure obstacles and the dog is allowed to zig-zag between obstacles and still get to an obstacle and perform it.... and then hoops added a much higher degree of "handler" into the picture... because the dogs didn't just "go do them".... they were easy for a dog to perform as long as the "handler" was giving clear information to "where" they wanted their dog to go and not "point and shoot" towards an obstacle.  When people point and shoot at a barrel or hoop, then the dogs go on the "path" of "where" the handler pointed........... and that doesn't always include a pathway to a hoop or a pathway around a barrel.

    I do understand how difficult it is for people to promote NADAC when people do not understand the difference between "obstacle focused" courses and "pathway focused" courses.  For so many handlers, doing pathwork is just "natural"..... they just naturally see "where" they want their dogs to go, but for some it is more difficult... and they see "what obstacle" they want their dog to do....

    When we talk about a "C" shaped tunnel the "obstacle" forces a path for the dog and with a barrel, the handler "creates" a pathway for the dogs........ or not.... but the test for "teamwork" between the dog and handler is highly tested.  The dog will run on the pathway "created" by the handler instead of having the tunnel forcing the pathway for the dog.

    I have had emails saying that some people don't want to do NADAC because it is "too different" from the other venues.......... and I do agree..... if people want to do agility within NADAC that is the same as other venues, then they are going to be very disappointed and will eventually leave.  But if they grasp the "flow between dog and handler" that is not created by obstacles, but is created by the information from the handler and the dog's ability to respond to that information to run the "pathway" that puts obstacles in the dog's pathway for the dog to perform.... they will then enjoy NADAC ...the pathway puts the obstacles in front of the dog.... and if a dog is willing to follow a path put before them by a handler, then performing the obstacle is the lessor of the challenge!

    NADAC has always focused on the "20 feet between the obstacles" and not the "one inch" over a jump or through a hoop, or the distance inside a tunnel or over a contact.  The dog must learn how to correctly perform each obstacle and then it becomes all about making the pathway perfect between those obstacles!

    We could go back and put in "obstacles" to make NADAC more appealing to those that want "obstacle based" agility.......... but we are very happy with our current format and that we are a "pathway based" agility......

    Watching the videos with Busi's headcam confirms that "she" gets it!  With the hoops and barrels she wants "pathway" information, but with the tunnel, she doesn't need me nearly as much.... and she switches back and forth with ease!  When I first got her, she was totally "obstacle" focused.... to an extreme that I had not met in 20 years!  Of course, being "obstacle" focused did not include any yellow during contact performance or the correct end of a tunnel, or a full set of weave poles!!  I never fixed any of her "obstacle" issues......... and they all left as she gained "pathway" focus, which can't happen without a desire to accept information from the handler!

    I don't believe that any venue is perfect and all venues are different........ but the biggest difference is that "obstacle based" training doesn't work so well in a "pathway based" set of courses....... and that makes many people very angry and emotional if they don't have the necessary "pathway" skills.......

    For those that do "pathway" based training, they do have a tendency to feel "what is the big deal, just let them know where to go.......... a hoop is easy .... a barrel is easy"... but they aren't easy if a dog is purely obstacle focused...... they are next to impossible to "perform" because there isn't any "obstacle performance"... there are "pathway" skills and if the team hasn't worked on pathway skills then hoops and barrels are incredibly difficult to "perform".

    So we need to accept that NADAC is different.  We aren't going to change what we do and people will come (our new registrations are higher than they have been in five years!) and people with leave.  That is not unique to NADAC, it happens in every venue, and always has and always will.  People want to have fun with their dogs and they will select what creates that fun!

    If handlers are extremely obstacle focused, they will get frustrated with NADAC and leave.  If handlers are pathway focused, they will love NADAC and stay with it.  And many, many handlers can do both and excel at multiple venues and love them all!

    But it is tough to talk apples and oranges and that they MUST taste the same.  They don't... and people will always prefer one over the other, and enjoy that they are very distinct and many people can enjoy both....... but they must be willing to accept that they are different and that is okay......

    If you want to embrace NADAC, then work on those pathway skills!

    It is like the recent topic of speeding up the slower dog... and how to do the barrel faster......... and what I was trying to say in my response is that it isn't about doing the "barrel" faster, but to build the enthusiasm for the dog to hear and respond to the handler's voice and not just to an obstacle or a toy.   Build up that "response" between dog and it dramatically lessens the time issues on course!

    If a team is and only wants to be obstacle focused then they will be or will become very frustrated with NADAC, because NADAC is not about obstacle focus, it is about doing everything it can to test that teamwork between dog and handler.  I have always loved Amanda's signoff which says "Teamwork............ without it, it is just obstacles" and that kinda says it all!!!

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I DO understand the frustration that people express with the "changes" with NADAC and that a barrel is "stupid" for many... and that others love the concept because it tests their teamwork and pathways skills to an even higher degree...

    Will NADAC return to being an "obstacle" focused venue, no.  We will do everything we can so that people can cross venue without total failure.  But there will be "some" issues with the pathway obstacles such as a hoop or barrel on a team that is purely obstacle focused.  But even those issues are not impossible for those that want to compete within NADAC and just work a little bit harder for those obstacles and love the rest of them!  No different than a NADAC team learning to perform a teeter, tire or other "obstacles" if they want to multi-venue.... each venue has their own set of skills needed and a team must be willing to teach themselves and their dogs those skills to truly enjoy that venue!

    Just play agility and HAVE FUN with your choices!!

Sharon
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AgileDobes

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 12:13:17 PM »
I don't think pathwork is limited to NADAC. It makes you a better, clearer handler regardless of venue. In some ways it is even more important on a tighter, more technical course to be super accurate with drawing the correct path. There is much less margin for error. I don't think there is a team anywhere who can't benefit from good pathwork skills.

People will find reasons to love or hate a venue no matter what you do. If they want to leave they will leave. It all depends on what is most important to them. Personally, I enjoy the different challenges presented by the different venues. Some play to our strengths and some force me to work harder to be a better handler and trainer. That is part of the fun of agility IMO, being presented with challenges and finding ways to rise to the occasion.
Nicole Bailey, Mojo, Luxx, Jinn & Loki
Pasadena, MD


Maureen deHaan

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 12:54:13 PM »
Sharon,

Loved this post... may I share it with my students?   

Also.. want to add... in my experience that if you train for pathway focused handling I find you can succeed in all agility venues...b/c it is all about the path!!!

I introduced barrels to my intro to agility class - baby dogs - they all took to them immediately b/c the handlers were showing them the path around them...one handler had a difficult time b/c she was flicking her dog to it...dog did not understand...handler got frustrated...but hung in there and started to realize something about her handling (lightbulb moment!)

I then introduced them to my comp class... The dogs did real well b/c the handlers draw paths very nicely... the neat thing was that the Am. Staff I have in class who can get demotivated - loved loved loved the barrels and was making tighter turns digging in to get around them than the smaller "herdy" types of dogs in the class....Her tight turns were not directed by the handler.. the dog just loved to go around - It was so great to watch!

Finally - re pathways - Many people often laugh at my husky Nika for jumping over tunnels - they think its cute... but what they don't realize is that my handling sends her to the middle of the tunnel instead of the opening each time she does it ...she is just following her mom's icky path work -  she does the same thing with gates - she will jump clear over a gate if I am not really honest with my handling...

 I wish I had "known" all this stuff 11 years ago when I started to train her... I think I would have a very different teammate!

Thanks for your post ~

My team and I are believers and will be with NADAC forever!!!
Maureen, Kiva & Zoe
Play~Bow
Kingston, NY

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Jean Sather (McCreight)

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2012, 02:04:28 PM »

Finally - re pathways - Many people often laugh at my husky Nika for jumping over tunnels - they think its cute... but what they don't realize is that my handling sends her to the middle of the tunnel instead of the opening each time she does it ...she is just following her mom's icky path work -  she does the same thing with gates - she will jump clear over a gate if I am not really honest with my handling...

 I wish I had "known" all this stuff 11 years ago when I started to train her... I think I would have a very different teammate!


AMEN, Maureen!!!  You and I must be related!  ;)  (or maybe Zack and Nika are!  ;D )

Lightbulb moment for me too ....  I have been gradually figuring out this spring that the reason I have struggled so in Jumpers with Zack is that in Jumpers I have to be very clear about every inch of his path .... where in other classes I can just launch him at a piece of equipment and then I have a second (or two or three) to get the next piece of handling right! 

Definitely a work in progress!!!  Which Tux will for sure benefit from!!! :)

Thanks Sharon for spelling this out so clearly ....
Jean & Tux
Montana

Sharon Nelson

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2012, 03:28:14 PM »
I don't think pathwork is limited to NADAC. It makes you a better, clearer handler regardless of venue. In some ways it is even more important on a tighter, more technical course to be super accurate with drawing the correct path. There is much less margin for error. I don't think there is a team anywhere who can't benefit from good pathwork skills.

So very true!  But there are many handlers that will swear that they "do" pathwork at all times, but they are really pointing at what "obstacle" they want the dog to do...

And, as Maureen stated, just pointing at a barrel doesn't work!

You do a great job of pathwork in all venues and many will argue that they do just as much, but it is different from what you do!

Sharon
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Jeannie Biggers

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2012, 03:33:41 PM »
The first thing I tell people in workshops or just in general when they ask me if I can help them with their handling skills is this:

Think of an elite jumpers course of 20 obstacles.  That is 133 yards from 1st jump to last jump.  Tell me how much of those 133 yards is your dogs responsibility?  20 inches.... the rest of the 132. something yards is YOUR responsibility!  If you are up for the challenge then I can help you!!   ;D

I truly go by this philosophy and I truly believe that 99.9% of failure points in a run are not the fault of my dog but a lack of my handling skills or the fact that I have not trained whatever the failure was to a point that my dog "truly" understands her job.

Be true to your dog and they will be true to you.....  ;)
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LeeAnne McAdam

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2012, 04:09:31 PM »
I loved reading this post, Sharon.  As someone who is trying desperately to be a better partner to my dogs, I am working hard at building my path drawing skills.  I make a lot of mistakes, but when I do get it right, it feels incredible and I just want more and more of it!  Little Squeak does her best no matter what, but my other dog just lights up when I get it right (what we call his wheee pig face...from the commercial) and gets faster, too.  I am completely hooked!
Lee Anne

Sharon Nelson

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2012, 05:07:30 PM »
I don't think pathwork is limited to NADAC. It makes you a better, clearer handler regardless of venue. In some ways it is even more important on a tighter, more technical course to be super accurate with drawing the correct path. There is much less margin for error. I don't think there is a team anywhere who can't benefit from good pathwork skills.

So true to a point.  Some of the tighter courses do require handling with "heavy reins and spurs" during that pathwork in order to really keep that dog tight and collected while drawing that path...

NADAC tries to create courses where pathwork is needed, but you can leave the heavy reins and spurs at home.

Sharon
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Marcy Matties

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2012, 06:54:55 PM »
All this talk about how rewarding it is when you draw the right path and are really in sync with your dog reminded me of one of our last jumpers runs in Calera.  I think it was the Calera Finale weekend.  Toby and I were in amazing sync and really tuned in to each other - working many layers away.  About half way through the run I started marveling at how awesome it was and how much fun it was.  About 2/3 of the way through I realized that while marveling at the path I was drawing, I now had forgotten where I was and where we were supposed to go next! So since I was lost we just kept flowing along taking the "next" jump until I remembered where we were supposed to go and we meandered back to that point and finished. Toby never knew the difference.  And I didn't care.  Obviously not a "Q", but still one of my fondest and most rewarding runs ever!   LOL

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Shirlene Clark

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 06:55:34 PM »
I don't think pathwork is limited to NADAC. It makes you a better, clearer handler regardless of venue. In some ways it is even more important on a tighter, more technical course to be super accurate with drawing the correct path. There is much less margin for error. I don't think there is a team anywhere who can't benefit from good pathwork skills.

the flip side of that is that handlers sometimes can get away with poor pathwork in courses where the obstacle saves the day.  Could be people think the created and supported a beautiful path when in fact the obstacle drew the dog.....  I think this is less likely to happen in NADAC (ie the obstacle saving the day when the pathwork is sloppy because of sequence distances.  Sloppy path handling in NADAC will unravel teams eventually.....

Shirlene
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Maureen deHaan

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2012, 07:12:30 PM »
Have to share this:

Tonight was the first time Nika (the tunnel & gate jumping husky) saw a barrel. As she is 11.5 years old and hates to train, so I don't train her much...but tonight I took her to class with me as we were working barrels.

Before class started I took out a barrel and tried to send her around it...thinking I was drawing her a good path..

yup...you guessed it... she jumped right over the top of it!! 

She handles like a mack truck so I guess I have to draw a wider path for her to make her turns...

that being said... she can wrap a hoop tighter than any of the small dogs in the class (including my Kiva) ...

go figure... gotta love the Huskies!!!
Maureen, Kiva & Zoe
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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2012, 05:23:15 AM »
    I know that I'm an old agility dinosaur; but I grew up learning that agility was a SIMPLE game as long as WE (the human) didn't screw it up for our dogs . . .
 
    I got my initiation learning that more stuff went wrong between obstacles than during obstacle performances; but we learned that before the fancy language of obstacle focus, handler focus and everything else that followed . . .
 
    ALL that Barb & I know about NADAC handling has been self-taught following insights . . . mostly from Sharon, Becky and Lisa Bonker . . . and things that just "felt right" between us and our dogs.  Barb & I both rely on obstacle recognition and pathway recognition . . . and acknowledge that we are both very awkward when it comes to maintaining pathway recognition for more than 3-4 obstacles; but that doesn't diminish our LOVE of things like hoops, gates and barrels!!!
 
    No one that I know put agility into simpler terms than an AAC judge that I met many years ago . . . she told me that my "job" was to get my dog around her course with no course faults and under time . . . a VERY SIMPLE concept . . .
 
    . . . and the one that eventually led us to "home schooling" our dogs so we could teach them and ourselves in a manner that made both of us happy!!!
 
    Unfortunately, agility venues' exhibitors have become as extreme and divisive as the politicians ans special interest groups . . . no willingness to find common ground even when common ground exists . . .
 
    The ONLY "real" difference, IMHO, is that in NADAC handlers have to handle and TRUST their dogs . . . from what I've witnessed and participated in, in the other venues . . . it's possible to be successful by NAGGING your dog to a "Q" . . .
 
    I think that it is the sad evolution of almost every sport in this day and age . . . they've all become too technical and too technology-driven . . . and with developments and advances that make "correct" or "right" a "range of values" rather than a single value . . . even in golf, today's clubs are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much more "forgiving" than the ones that I learned the game with!!!
 
    . . . and beyond that, NADAC focuses on keeping things SAFE so dogs can stay HEALTHY and enjoy agility well into their golden years . . .
 
    . . . and all too often, dogs owned by others that frequent other venues are "washed up" and retired by age 7 or 8 . . . basically a "disposable commodity" because they already have a "new dog" . . . or two . . . or three . . . to "replace" the other . . .
 
    You want another REAL difference? It's RESPECT in NADAC for THE DOGS!!!
 
    Hugs & wags,

         Al & Barb Ceranko, Dred, Gael & Pellinore
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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2012, 05:50:55 AM »

So true to a point.  Some of the tighter courses do require handling with "heavy reins and spurs" during that pathwork in order to really keep that dog tight and collected while drawing that path...

NADAC tries to create courses where pathwork is needed, but you can leave the heavy reins and spurs at home.

Sharon

Oh I agree 100% Sharon! I was just making the point that the skills that make one successful at NADAC can and do translate well to other venues, so people shouldn't get so worked up about it. I use pathwork and distance skills all the time in other venues to handle courses MY way. It is often not the way a majority of other people will approach a certain sequence but usually works great for my team.

I don't see how NADAC having hoops & barrels is going to make other venues any harder for me. Any more than I can blame them for having the teeter, tire, chute, table etc. making NADAC harder for me. I train for all of it and we do our best.
Nicole Bailey, Mojo, Luxx, Jinn & Loki
Pasadena, MD


Jeanne Allen

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2012, 04:19:43 PM »
Al,

Love your last post!  I think you hit the nail on the head!
Jeanne Allen and the Blue Dog Jester
Boise, ID

Lisa Schmit In The Zone Agility

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Re: NADAC philosophy
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2012, 03:45:55 AM »
HA this is why I bitch when obstacles are in my way !!!    I am not obstacle focused :)
hahaha    hope you laughed SHaron !!!
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