August 29, Day 3 - As I said, since her second track on Sunday was so frustrating, I wanted to make sure she had a really good experience for her next track. I asked for a simple TD-like track, with a young age.
Sports field track video - Gimme started out nicely and got to her first article quickly. This track is fully marked, so when Gimme wanted to go check out the backstop, I knew not to go with her. Everyone got a good chuckle at how Gimme used searching to get me to give her all the line, so she could then go check out the backstop from a different angle. No one would ever say she's not a real smarty pants. After she got her own way, then she went to work on the corner followed by the second article. She was kinda on a roll after that and got through to the end smoothly.
One telling thing about this track is how it took 11:30 to finish it. And yet this weekend for our certification, she did a somewhat longer track in under 5 minutes. When I considered the time, I thought she was slow. But then it occurred to me we spend 30-60 seconds per article and including the start, end and mid-leg, that is 7 articles, which adds up to 3½-7 minutes. The track was really good for her, she was having fun, and it was only a tad slow.
For this last day of the seminar I wrote notes about just one thing, but its a very important one thing. What do you do when your dog is lost or not committing? How do you help your dog without doing too much? You may have a good idea where your dog was last certain of the track, but you can't just take your dog back there - its called guiding and will get you the dreaded whistle real fast. The only thing you can do is organize your dog's search so they get to search all the area they need to search, without ever looking like you are leading them to it.
You'll do this with what Sil calls a spiral search. Basically the handler spirals out from a central point, with the dog searching in a circle around you.
In this diagram, the central point is the large red dot. The black spiral is the handler's path. Pink dots are places where the handler might be on the spiral and the green dotted circles are the dog's path around the pink-dot handler. The three concentric blue dotted circles represent the dog's path using more and more line - assuming your dog is comfortable using the whole line. As you can see, when the handler spirals out, the dog gets to cover a much larger area.
I hope this next diagram is clear. If I move forward as the dog moves in the same direction, it could be interpreted as leading or guiding my dog, especially if she's searching close to me.
Instead, when I move, I try to move backing up (or sideways) so my movement can't be misconstrued. Since you are pivoting 90° at a time (about 30-45° ahead of your dog), you can move in any direction you want, as long as the dog is in the right relative position. I want to use my dog's movement so it appears I am following her.
Put another way -
If your dog is circling clockwise, she'll be between 2 and 4 o'clock relative to you when you step backward. If your dog is circling counter-clockwise, she'll be between 10 and 8 o'clock relative to you when you step backward.
Clear as mud? Thinking of it this way works in my mind, so I hope clearer than mud for you.