Saturday, February 12, 2011

my first (and last?) blind cross ...

a happy picture for a sad week - this is Brody at his first CPE trial .. I just love his expression and his speed!

A quick note for any non agility people who might read this - there are a bunch of ways people can get from one side of the dogs path to the other. It's important to be able to do this to help your dog find the most efficient way around the course. I use front crosses mostly I think (you cross in front of the dog doing a pivot like thing that can make you feel like a really bad ballet dancer some days). I also use rear crosses. In this move you send the dog ahead of you over an obstacle then switch sides. I tend to use this move only on tunnels, and contacts as Brody finds them demotivating on jumps.

In the wildcard course I ended up using a blind cross to keep Brody out of the back end of what on the map above is marked the 3 tunnel down at the bottom of the page. The wildcard course had you come through the weaves over what on this map is the R at the bottom then do the 2 jump. The tunnel was a VERY loud beacon to the dogs - I watched at least 5 dogs at senior levels happily BLAST through the tunnel and another 3 suffer a VERY HARD call off it. I don't like yelling at my dogs and Brody HATES a harsh call off. That meant between the weaves (which you may know Brody needs ridiculous amounts of support for) and the jump I had to get to the far side of the jump. I thought I could fit in a front cross but I wasn't in the right spot. Rather than risk an off course (which to be quite honest I would have allowed) I tried a blind cross. I can't recommend trying a move for the first time on a course at a trial. But. For us it worked. It actually felt strange, and I wasn't sure if Brody would be weirded out by it but he just soldiered on. He obviously pays less attention to the ballet moves than I do.

I didn't love it. I don't like not seeing my dog. I won't be practising it. I can see it becoming a very quick way to move around a course and if I practised them it wold feel more natural and perhaps become more tempting to use. I suppose I can imagine a course that I may choose to use one.

It was noteworthy for being new.


Laura and The Corgi, Toller, & Duck said...

I don't do a ton of blind crosses and don't really practice on courses that would benefit from them. But I don't think there's anything wrong with them as long as you teach the dog what they mean.

I actually find it surprising that you say it would demotivate Brody as I find it actually speeds up a lot of dogs! Blind crosses require the handler to continually move and race to position so it excites many dogs to race their handler. Of course you still have to time it right to give the dog information about where they are going next before they are actually in their air.

andrea said...

hey Laura - it's rear crosses Brody finds particularly demotivating .. though I think eventually he would find blinds demotivating too. He really values staying connected to me on a course - he isn't happy if he's too far ahead of me or if I'm too far ahead of him. In his world agility is certainly a team sport ;) Communication on a course sure is the key to getting around it in an elegant speedy manner :)

Laura and The Corgi, Toller, & Duck said...

ah I see where I misread now! Rear crosses definitely are demotivating for a lot of dogs! Even though my toller is really good at reading them and it's easier to do with a fast dog I still prefer to be out in front since it's just more fun for both of us!

At the Silvia Trkman seminar I just had the great fortune of attending her advice on a blind was to talk more. She talks a TON on courses as a way of keeping that connection with her dog and giving them timely information. It was odd since in the U.S. we're very silent handlers.

But really courses over here don't really have the need for blind crosses. I do have several classmates with moderately speedy dogs who do a lot of blinds so they can constantly keep in motion. No single sided serpentine handling; they move from side to side and thus need to do blinds. It is fun to see the changes in the dogs who truly thrive off of that and and the handler who becomes out of breath! Every dog is different though!

Muttsandaklutz said...

I remember the first time I saw someone do a blind cross, I was all taken aback as I had always been told they were Evil. Lol. I'm a big girl now and can make up my own mind on these things and my opinion is whatever works for a human and their dog is what's right for them, blind cross or not. I see them used quite frequently nowadays, particularly by many of the Quebec teams at local trials. I've used them once or twice at tunnel exits -- not planned but because woops I didn't get there in time to bust my knees for a front cross. Felt weird to do though I must admit!