Weave weave weave whoops!
Popping out at the 10th weave pole - or the second-to-last pole of any number of poles - is a common phenomenon amongst agility dogs. Leading American handler Linda Mecklenburg tackled this problem in a recent article in Clean Run Magazine (April 2002) which they have kindly allowed Agilitynet to reproduce here. You may (or may not) agree with Linda's appraisal of this problem, but isn't it about time we start sharing our knowledge as the Americans do?
There are many reasons dogs exit the poles prematurely near the end of the obstacle. These include the body language of the handler, lack of understanding of the poles, anticipation of the next obstacle, and so on. However, often all of those issues have been ruled out and the dog is still popping out. Sometimes the dog is even looking up at the handler as if to say, 'Did I do that good, Mom? Where do we go now?' The dog obviously believes its performance of the poles was completed and was correct.
This popping out happens typically when the dog is two poles from the end, and most often happens when the handler is on the dogís left although itís also possible with the handler on the right. It appears as though the dogs do not see the last two poles easily. Perhaps they have a 'blind spot.' The problem worsens as the dog develops a rhythm through the poles and he is no longer searching methodically for each single pole.
It is very common in dogs that have been trialing for just a short while. It is also more likely to occur if the handler is even with, or behind, the dog (see Figure 1). When the handler is ahead of the dog, or on the right, the last two poles are more obvious (see Figure 2).
However, the problem can still occur regardless of the handlerís positioning. The following solutions are geared toward helping the dog be aware of the last two poles.
Now, if I watch a class of high-level dogs, and dog after dog is popping out at pole 10, I will resort to the same measures I use with my inexperienced dog to help him see those last two poles and prevent a fault in my dogís performance.
So if your dog is popping out near the end of the poles and all the potential causes have been ruled out and the reason is still unapparent, your dog may be suffering from '10th Pole Syndrome.''
This article was published by Clean Run magazine in April 2002 and is reprinted here with the permission of Clean Run Productions, LLC
In 2001 she and her BC Awesome were members of USA team that became the gold medal winning FCI Standard Team World Champions. Awesome also placed eighth in the Standard Individual competition, thus having the best combined performance of all dogs at the FCI World Championships that year.
Linda teaches agility full-time at her Awesome Paws Agility Center in central Ohio, USA. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clean Run Productions, LLC is dedicated exclusively to the sport of dog agility. It publishes America's #1 monthly magazine on agility training and have published 15 books on the subject with more in the works. They also offer a broad spectrum of training accessories as well as fun and unique products for your performance dog.
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