Natural Laws of a Rally Dog in Motion


After reading Bud’s post about the laws of a dog in motion I decided to blog the set of laws I developed last year. These rules apply to rally obedience (an elaboration of this list is appearing in the May edition of DogSport magazine).

Natural laws of a rally dog in motion … (Though many obedience or rally handlers assume you have to teach the dog to respond to a lot of counter-intuitive movement for rally-o you can, indeed, provide natural movement cues most dogs will understand.)

Rule #1: A dog will move in a path parallel to the handler so long as both are moving with the same energy and at the same pace.

Rule #2: If the handler slows or the dog moves ahead, the dog will turn toward the handler.

Rule #3: The dog turns when the handler turns, not where the handler turns.

Rule #4: The dog gets her directional cue from the set of the handler’s shoulders and feet.

Rule #5: The dog gets her speed cue from the posture and pace of the handler.

Rule #6: The dog with a sure understanding of the mission, or well-conditioned responses, will assume a straighter line.

Rule #7: The dog upon whom responsibility and blame are heaped, and who is only partially trained, will make slower progress.

Rule #8, added this past week while trying to herd my old, deaf, blind dogs across the ice into the mud-yard is: The only way to influence the movement of old, deaf, blind dogs is to block their movement in every direction other than the one in which you want them to move. Sort of like moving pigs, you put a barrier in front of their meandering paths to the right or left to get them to move forward.  You want a straight line? You use a pooper-scooper set, part in your left hand, part in your right hand. Spread your arms to start the forward movement then, as the dogs cut left you step left and block their path. As they cut back to the right and try to dodge past, you cut back to the right and block with the other half of the pooper scooper set.

This behavior increases in relation to how miserable the weather is. More meandering takes place when the temperatures are below 10 degrees, above 90 degrees, or if there’s precipitation in solid form, especially sleet or frozen rain. In lovely weather old dogs move smoothly forward as if that was their intention all along. Gotta love ’em.

This week my mother was going through an old pile of photographs, dividing them up into boxes for each of the 5 kids. My box included a bunch of pictures of this cabin property from the past 40 years. They were fun to look at, putting them in order by date and watching the pine trees grow from 10″ seedlings to the 50′ giants they are now.

Then there were the countless pictures of my dogs, all but 2 of them shown in the pictures are waiting for me at the rainbow bridge, so that was a little sad and weird. Since I’ve been an adult I had a lot of dogs living in my house at any given time. I remember the quirks of every one of them.

There were several pictures of me when I was 20, 30, 40 years old. Now I know why lots of women have plastic surgery done, or spend thousands on botox and other treatments. It was scary to know that I’m not going to look any better, that in 10 years I’ll be wishing I looked this good again, that this process is irreversible.

In shelter news, our transport coordinator has located a responsible, reliable rescue willing to take the pit bulls and mostly-pit mixes collecting in the shelter. Most of our adopters come in looking for herding or hunting-type dogs, fortunately, and we don’t have adopters for even the sweetest of the pit bulls. On Friday we’re going to attempt to test them for dog aggression. We want to do this as safely as possible, though most of them get to walk past other dogs off and on throughout the day, so the dogs we’re testing are all expected to be good with dogs.

Is it my imagination, or do pit bulls have terrible skin problems? Between flea allergies and mange, they seem to have a propensity for irritated skin. Perhaps they just don’t have enough hair to cover the skin problems all dogs have.

Bud’s Work-Study Partnership has struck a cord with folks, as has my Private Lesson Sale. We spent some time on the property today, assigning priorities to tasks and discussing the order in which projects should proceed. The weather was beautiful, lots of sun, temps around 60, so we got the dogs out and spent 20 minutes on a family walk.

When we got back to the house the clouds were moving in and a terrible line of storms passed through. Bud and I ended up in the basement with 9 dogs, 5 of them in crates and 4 on leashes. The storm passed over fairly quickly and peace once again reigns over the Houston home and all the canines are snoozing away on dog beds and furniture.

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