I took Jart to his first ever seminar last Saturday. Jenn Crank was at Clean Run, doing novice/open handling on Saturday (and Excellent/Masters on Sunday). I decided it was time to take Jart to a seminar; he’d been to group classes, trials, but never to a seminar. This was one that fit well within my schedule, and Jenn Crank seemed to be a good choice, after reading her bio and successes with her dogs. I was really only planning on getting out of this a little more confidence building for Jart.
I ended up getting much more….
First, let me say the new facility at Clean Run is great! I have never been to this new place, it’s a perfect size for seminars, and has terrific footing (Crown Matting).
About the seminar: it started out with some background on what this seminar was about: handling, the basics of how Jenn handled, and what she was going to teach us. It turns out she’s a student of Linda Mecklenburg, and teaches Linda’s style of handling, called APHS (Awesome Paws Handling System). I had certainly heard of this, and had looked into it a little, but never really delved in (not due to lack of interest, mostly lack of time to read and absorb the content in printed form).
Seeing it work in action after the 2 hour introduction, learning of the terminology, and giving us a basic understanding of the principles behind this system – was amazing. I have to admit, my 10+ years of perfecting my style of handling, which included opposite arm cues for rear crosses, and (the biggie) shoulder turns along with standing still/holding back for getting U-turns and the like, was very hard to not do automatically! I actually had to go through some learning pains, something I haven’t had to do as a handler in a very long time. But the learning came so quickly, and the results were so good, that it encouraged me to use my newfound knowledge the next day at the starters/advanced USDAA trial in New Hampshire.
OK, so no Q’s for Jart. But, we did use some of our new handling techniques. For now, let me just say that the main handling tools I took away from the seminar that I will keep using, and learning to use better, are deceleration to cue a change of direction and lateral motion to help with push/pull and obstacle discrimination. Those of you who know Jart know that he loves his tunnels, right? Well, I got through a sequence with 2 tunnel end-discriminations (where the dog had to go to the end not directly in front of him) with absolutely no problems, without calling his name, or Come, or Here, or any reverse of direction (RFP), or shoulder turns.
There’s a lot more than those 2 tools, of course, in the system; and there are principles behind when and where to use each handling cue. I just wanted to give you a taste of what I’ll be writing about a lot more in the months, perhaps years, to come.
In conclusion, the reason why this “handling system” is so appealing to me is that it is straightforward, natural for the dog to read, and gives the dog his/her cues in a very timely manner.
Why did I put “handling system” in paranthesis? Because I’ve never understood the meaning of that term until this past weekend. But, that explanation is for another blog…!
Stay tuned, I’ll post a course where I used this handling soon, plus describe some more about this handling system.