Author Topic: Handling Systems  (Read 5798 times)

dmadrid

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Handling Systems
« on: July 02, 2012, 09:25:12 AM »
Here's something I've been thinking about the past couple of days:

I've been told more than once that the majority of handlers in the US use either the Linda Mecklenburg or Greg Derrett handling system.  Both of these systems are incompatible with the sort of distance handling that is required in NADAC chances.  (I know the Derrett system is... I think Mecklenburg's system is, too, but correct me if I'm wrong).

I know they aren't the only game in town anymore ... there's Jane Simmons Moake, who teaches distance, and Stuart Mah, who famously doesn't have a handling system, among others.  And many people take a little of this and a little of that and handle in their own way that works for their dogs.

But, if it is still true that more people handle in these systems, or a derivative thereof, that might be a reason why we don't see a lot of cross venue people at NADAC shows.  Those handling systems work fine in Regular and most of the games, but they do not provide the necessary tools to succeed in Chances, which is such a big part of NADAC. 

Anyway, I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but it was just a thought that I had.  It might make sense though... if there are still a lot of instructors teaching in the Derrett or Mecklenburg system, then they simply aren't going to be able to give their students the tools they need to succeed at distance work.  What they will be able to teach are skills that translate well to USDAA & AKC (and, I gather, TDAA), but not to NADAC.  The systems are simply not designed to handle NADAC style distance... these are both "run with your dog" handling systems. 

As was said in another thread, it all comes down to instructors, doesn't it?

Best,
Danielle

Danielle

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 04:26:49 PM »
Hi Danielle,

Way back in my "Dark Ages" days, I was a member of a club that used the Linda Mecklenberg method . . . and while it worked for Linda and her dogs, it didn't work for me and mine . . . nor did it work for some of my students . . .

. . . so I went off in my own direction and did my best to customize things for my dogs and those dogs that my students had . . . and so, it wasn't long before my "teaching credentials" were taken away from me . . .

Contrary to what I hear, I don't think that "nominal distance" (up to 30 feet) is all that difficult to teach . . .

It all starts, IMHO, with giving a puppy/rescue time to mature and grow in it's RELATIONSHIP with it's handler/owner.  Confidence and security in that relationship facilitates distance . . .

Personally, I think that all of the "authorities" that have their "systems" are also full of doo-doo . . .

Every dog is an individual and has their individual learning curve . . .

Understanding how your INDIVIDUAL dog learns . . . and tailoring your teaching methods to your dog's learning curve is all that you need . . .

It's ALL COMMON SENSE . . . and it's NOT "rocket science" . . .

Agility is a VERY SIMPLE game that we play with our dogs . . . humans have chosen to complicate it in order to create a business and income for themselves . . .

YOU can do everything that Derrett, Mecklenberg, Simmons-Moake and others do . . . all you need to do is PAY ATTENTION to what you do and how your dog responds . . . and make the necessary adjustments . . .

Everything that I've learned from Sharon and Becky focus on individualized learning for me and my dogs . . . so their method, at least IMHO, is customized to whatever works for the team that they are working with . . . and their tips have always amounted to . . . "Well, DUH!!! . . . COMMON SENSE should have told me that!!!"

I'm a big believer in doing whatever your dog understands and is comfortable for you!!!

. . . even if it doesn't garner "high scores" for style!  As long as your canine partner understands it, who should care???

As it is with so many teachers in other situations, they like a known and comfortable "lesson plan" . . .

I was an ADHD kid in school with a contrarian vision of life . . . that's why I live with Border Collies . . . and why I believe that the really successful teachers and handlers learn to "think out of the box" from Day 1 . . .

Systems . . . ya don't need no stinkin' systems . . . they just make their authors RICH!!!  Just think about what you want . . . think about how to get it done based on you and your dog . . . and just GO FOR IT!!!

Agility is a simple game that we play with our dogs . . . as long as you don't make it any more complicated than in should be, you'll be just fine with your own "system" . . .

TRUST yourself and your dog!!!

Sincerely,

Al & Pellinore in OH

Castle Camelot: Al, Barb, Dred, Gael & Pellinore . . . and from The Bridge Grill & Pub,  Kali, Flurry, Promise, Chico, Romulus, Trix and Tony.

dogrsqr

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 06:23:21 PM »
I don't understand handling systems.  When someone first mentioned them to me a few years ago I had no idea what they were talking about.  My instructor teaches and makes us try many different handling skills.  Our system is use what works. 

Gina Pizzo

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 07:06:15 PM »
If these handling systems (I know hardly a thing about either of them) really only allow running with your dog, how do their adherents deal with Gamblers class?  Even in AKC now, as I understand it, there is a class that requires some distance, and it's certainly always been there in USDAA.
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Lynn in VT

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 07:57:40 PM »
While I don't subscribe to either of the two "handling systems" mentioned, I do understand their point. I believe we all can see the benefit of being consistent in our communication with our dogs and I believe the "systems" are intended to maintain that consistency within a set of cues and expectations that the handler has deemed important in their agility activities.  Handler to dog: "Every time I do/say this, you're (the dog) supposed to do that." I think of it more as language (for communication) and, really, language is a set of consistencies in the ways we communicate.  If I say "get out" while I slow down and bring my arm down, I am not being consistent in my language with my dog. 

I have observed that a "system" can be very good for people who don't naturally "feel" agility -- It gives them a set of consistencies/rules that they haven't been able to feel on their own.  I actually have seen not only amazing improvement in handling skills, but also great increase in confidence (and enjoyment) among a few people who have been doing agility for quite a while without much improvement -- until they found a "system" that essentially gave them the rules to follow in their handling.

Probably anyone who teaches agility -- and most who seriously practice it -- find ourselves repeating the same phrases and useful tips so much that we could, if we wanted, write them down and call them a "system".  We all have, or develop, such a "system".  I think consistent language/communication is really all these systems are about, except that maybe calling it a "system" makes it sound like something that can be easily packaged and sold!

Lynn in Vermont
Lynn in VT
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Chris Nelson

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 08:01:39 PM »
Everyone is doing good so far...but I am forewarning everyone to play nice in the sand box :)   The old rules from the yahoo list still apply for venue bashing and trainer/competitor bashing.


Again, don't get offended cause everyone is being great.   But sometimes these types of thread go off into a bad direction in the blink of an eye.

dmadrid

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2012, 08:46:55 PM »
I think Lynn hit the nail right on the head.  The systems are about consistency.  Consistent cues by the handler, delivering information clearly to the dog.  There is certainly something to be said for that... Consistency is something we should all strive for in our communications to our dogs.   Some people will do better as handlers if they have rules to follow than others, especially newcomers that really don't have a 'feel' for agility yet... which I think is some of the appeal. 

I really didn't start this thread to bash any systems, or any venues (personally, Anja & I train for multiple venues, and we've explored elements of several systems), so I, too, really hope it doesn't go there. 

My thought was mainly that handling/teaching in these systems (which, as far as I know, don't support distance) might be one of the limiting factors that prevent more people from participating in multiple venues.  I don't know... it's mainly idle speculation. =)

And to answer someone's questions about Gamblers.... well.... at the last USDAA show I was at, the folks who also do NADAC were rocking Gamblers at all levels... but the folks that don't do any NADAC didn't really seem to know what to do, and the Gamble was truly a gamble....

Best,
Danielle
Danielle

Lynn Broderick

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 04:25:51 PM »
I think Lynn definitely hit the nail on the head!

And imho, the points I learned from Linda Mecklenburg's system of consistent communication with your dog can definitely be used, with modification, for NADAC courses. When I started with my second dog, the instructor I went to started teaching this- so much more clarity for my dog and I than I had with the first dog, and I am sure she became the rockstar she is because of it! When we discovered the wonders of distance work, we started applying the same principles, but gradually increased the distance she worked from me. Amber does very well in any venue, any style of courses.

I just had a discussion about this with a new student the other day- Linda M. talks about motion being a cue for the dogs to drive ahead or start to collect (and Derrett does too, I believe- I've had less exposure to his methods than hers), and in a seminar with her that I attended, the problem of the handler not being able to run fast came up. She said that the motion cues can still apply- you keep moving, even if it's not fast, if you want your dog to continue to 'go.'  And she definitely makes a great point about taking care that your verbal cues don't override (or attempt to overrride) your body/motion cues.

To what I learned from the systems, I have added "drawing the line" and let me say- we LOVE it, and so do my students! Such clarity for all when you use your crayon! (thanks Paula Goss for teaching it to me, along with push the head, pull the rear!)

Lynn Broderick
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Maureen deHaan

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2012, 03:45:03 AM »
I agree with Lynn S & Al - Do what works for your dog - if your dog understands it - then do it. Don't let anyone tell you "how to" run your dog - but listen to different people and TRY different things. you will figure out what works - then the most important thing is to STICK WITH IT!

Arlene Courtney used this analogy  which I love and have stolen b/c it explains it so well:  If you had an index card with a definition of "X" on it (ex: what switch means to you) and your dog had an index card with a definition of "X" on it - would the definitions match?  THEY SHOULD!

I was recently training with a friend who wanted r me to use a different hand to indicate something for Kiva b/c she didn't think I "needed" to use the one I was using (outside vs inside arm) - I tried it to see if it would work - while it did for some things, it ended up confusing her for others and changed how much distance I could get from her too (interestingly enough) - the change caused our "index cards" to be out of sync - why would I - after 5 years of training this awesome dog who really understands me - change my "system"? -  I won't - but at least I tried something - and the upside of trying something differently is that I know where I can use it and know where I won't - it reinforced that I know what works for my team.

I often have my students "try" different things - if they work- great - if they don't we try something else ---and keep trying until we find what works for the team....

The bottom line - the system that is best is what works for the team ... and IMO an instructor should respect that -

Peace and a Happy 4th of July!
Maureen, Kiva & Zoe
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Kingston, NY

"A great dog is not determined by its papers"

Lynn in VT

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 10:31:54 AM »
Hi Maureen --

I agree with you 99%!  The one thing I thought of as I was reading your post is that, sometimes, when we "use what works" in one setting, if we're not careful about whether or not that conflicts with another "thing that works", then we might be setting up for confusion down the road.

Here's my example:  I never felt that I needed an "out" -- I just used my body position and movement and, if I needed an "out" for, say, a tunnel/A-frame discrimination, I would bring up my opposite (outside) arm, which turned my body into my dog's line, and she would take the farthest obstacle of the discrimination.  It worked -- so much so that I had very consistent discriminations with my dogs.  What I didn't think about, though, is what other ways do I use my "outside" arm?  Well, most of us use the outside arm for switches.  So now I have unknowingly (unthinkingly) created a conflict in my handling.  Does bringing up my outside arm mean "switch" (turn away from me by >90-degrees, on my index card!) or does it mean "take the farthest obstacle in a discrimination"?  I learned that Mia's definition was the "turn away from me by >90 degrees" -- at a trial where we were spot on for a bonus line Regular run, with only a tunnel/dw discrimination and jump for the home stretch.  Mia was doing a beautiful arc of jumps at the far end of the ring that led to the tunnel/dw coming up the side and, as she headed for the jump just before tunnel/dw, I brought up my outside arm as I had learned was successful for such discriminations -- -- and Mia cleared the jump and then made a very nice 90-degree turn off of the whole discrimination and over some tunnel bags that were resting against that side of the ring.

THAT was a lesson well learned -- When I run her closer, my outside arm turns me into her line and she picks up that pressure toward the outside obstacle.  Doing that at 80-feet away, she mostly only sees my outside arm come up and so she does what she knows an outside arm means.  Now I try to reserve my outside arm only for switches and avoid it for the outer obstacle of discriminations. 

This is a long story -- I really just meant to say that I agree with doing what works for our dogs, but in doing so, we still need to analyze how it might fit into all of our communication with our dog. I guess that's ultimately the purpose of a "system".
Lynn in VT
& Mia & Zodi & Redi

Jean Sather (McCreight)

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2012, 10:36:31 AM »
Great point, Lynn, and a great description!
Jean & Tux
Montana

Lynn in VT

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2012, 11:16:54 AM »


My thought was mainly that handling/teaching in these systems (which, as far as I know, don't support distance) might be one of the limiting factors that prevent more people from participating in multiple venues.  I don't know... it's mainly idle speculation. =)


I wanted to respond to this long ago but then got caught up in definitions of systems! 

I do believe what you say here is significant.  I have many times worked with people who ask for help to "learn distance" for the distance challenges in their chosen venue (not NADAC) and then they cannot use what I have to offer because it conflicts in some way with their chosen handling system. 

I also do think many who adhere to the system have already heard that NADAC-style handling breaks all the system's rules and, because of that, they won't even give NADAC a try.

I have studied (well, surveyed) the two most popular handling systems to see how I might offer something that could work within these systems that would help people with distance in their chosen venues and -- MAYBE -- encourage them to give NADAC a try.  In one of the systems, I think could be possible; in the other, not.  My record of bringing anyone strictly adherent to either system into NADAC is 0% as far as I know.  Could be that I'm just not creative enough to figure it out...

Lynn in VT
 & Mia & Zodi


I know, like you, there are many who compete in NADAC and other venues, but how many of them strictly adhere to one of the two systems we have been discussing?  Maybe someone on this list could answer this.



« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 11:20:57 AM by Chris 'CJ' Nelson »
Lynn in VT
& Mia & Zodi & Redi

Rena Bonem

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2012, 12:06:27 PM »
I went to a Susan Garrett seminar this summer and liked what she had to say on this subject.  She said that she learned Greg Derrett's system, but that she had to modify it because her dog has 4 legs and she only has two and there is no way she can run as fast as Greg to be there with her dog.  She says that her system is 50-50 for those over 50 or 50 pounds over weight.  She focuses on relationship building with the dog to build confidence and distance.  Having said that, you will find that the Mecklenburg system dominates Texas (especially the Austin area) because of the number of seminars offered by those trained in that system.  It just isn't going to work for me because I can not run faster than any of my dogs if they are chasing squirrels!  What I have to do is build that relationship and trust regardless of the "system."

Rena
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Maureen deHaan

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2012, 12:16:05 PM »


I agree with you 99%!  The one thing I thought of as I was reading your post is that, sometimes, when we "use what works" in one setting, if we're not careful about whether or not that conflicts with another "thing that works", then we might be setting up for confusion down the road. [sic]
This is a long story -- I really just meant to say that I agree with doing what works for our dogs, but in doing so, we still need to analyze how it might fit into all of our communication with our dog. I guess that's ultimately the purpose of a "system".

Hi Lynn -

LOL! I agree with you 99.999% (joking) that is what I mean by knowing where things will work and where they will not - Know what is on your index card!!  ;)

As you know - I use outside arm for switch with verbal support - I also use a softer (much softer) outside arm for the "out" discrimination" - I affectionately call it my "Subtle Switch" but when I do that I don't generally turn my body as much and I am running parallel to the DW/Tun for example or putting pressure on her line

For Kiva and I it works b/c my "Subtle Switch" turns her just so slightly off her line of travel and on *Our* index cards "Switch" (or opposite arm)  means turn away from me as far as I indicate with my body and take the next thing in your path  (there is no measured angle of turn attached to it)- This  in a discrimination means the "out" - now I know that sometimes this does not set me up well for what comes next - which does sometimes bite me in the butt - but....it what works for us more often than not -

 Having fooled around with trying something new (inside arm)  - I have started to confuse her ---having recently tried the inside arm for the out - yes it worked but then I could not get her to angle in for the "in" in a discrimination - other factors also at play I am sure- my eyes  looking too far out - thinking too much- me not giving her the normal body cue (other than arm - ie: speed check or shoulder pull) and I am not one who likes the "rock back" - my body tends to just use the slow down or stop for a sec more naturally - must be my aging process or the crappy knees that doesn't allow me to be comfortable with the rocking back thing.

so yes - I agree - use what works but beware and KNOW where you will have issues and be proactive vs reactive! I am not above admitting my "system" is not perfect - but it is what works best for Kiva and I and what my body will allow me to do naturally.

See you Friday :P

Maureen, Kiva & Zoe
Play~Bow
Kingston, NY

"A great dog is not determined by its papers"

Lynn in VT

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Re: Handling Systems
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2012, 02:04:26 PM »
Ok, Maureen,

Now I agree with you 99.9999%! 

If not for my "switch incident" at 80 feet, I would be 100% with you...  But that's what taught me what was on Mia's card for outside arm.  You're right, it was a BIG outside arm and I guess I could call the one I used for the "out" discrimination more subtle...  But with a not-so-subtle dog (or maybe too subtle!!), I decided I wanted to make my communication as clear as possible and not risk confusing her where I don't have to.  Anyway, that was just an example of how I realized how easy it is to get attached to "what works" and then later realize that it might be creating a conflict with my other communications.

For the inside discrimination, I teach the "rock back" only to give people the footwork for turning while decelerating  -- sometimes people aren't able to pause and turn at the same time without the footwork, and sometimes taking a little step back ("rocking back thing") helps them to actually do the pause, which is exactly the pause that you are referring to.  So, 100% agreement there - yay!

See you soon --

Lynn in VT
& Mia & Zodi & Redi