January 2, 2024

Episode 327: How Many Verbal Cues Do You Need?

photo credit: Great Dane Photos

In this episode (48:58)

In this episode, join Jennifer, Esteban, and Sarah as they delve into the world of verbal cues in dog agility. Explore the nuances of verbal versus non-verbal commands, how timing affects cues, and the impact of handler skills on training success.

You Will Learn

  • The difference between verbal and non-verbal cues in agility training.
  • How the timing of verbal cues can impact a dog’s performance.
  • The role of handler proficiency in the effectiveness of verbal commands.
  • Understanding the number of verbal cues needed for effective agility training.


I'm Jennifer, I'm Esteban. And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 327. Today's podcast is brought to you by HitItBoard dot com and the new Teeter TeachIt, an easy to use tool that controls the amount of tip on your teeter. So you can introduce motion to your dog in a gradual way. Go to HitItBoard dot com for the new Teeter TeachIt and other training tools and toys.

Use discount code BDA 10 to get 10% off your order. That's hit aboard.com. Happy New Year everyone. Actually, Jennifer, Sarah and I for this episode are coming to you from the past. It is not yet Christmas, so we are recording this a couple of days before Christmas, but this podcast will be released on January 2nd. So if you're listening to us right now,

it is in fact 2024. So happy new Year. Just wanna let you know that next week's podcast we'll have the discussion about our New Year's resolutions and kind of setting up the new year. So y'all have that to look forward to. Today we are going to be talking about verbals, verbal cues in dog agility. So as I often like to do,

I wanna start with defining what is a verbal, because you hear it talked about all the time in your agility class on the internet, people watching great runs, they're like, oh, look at the verbal skills that team must have. So let me start with you Sarah. What do you think, what do you think it means to have a verbal cue?

Like what's, what's a verbal cue and what's a non-verbal cue? Well, I think, you know, we all have verbal cues for the vast, vast majority of the things that we ask our dogs to do. Even, you know, even outside of agility, right? When you say sit, you are giving a verbal cue and asking your dog to sit.

But there are a lot of other things that the dogs are looking at besides the verbal cue. So a lot of people will, you know, stand very straight. They'll use their hand, as they say, sit. So when, when we're talking about verbals, we have to kind of think about just the, the component of the cue that is coming out of our mouths.

That is the verbal cue. And sometimes that cues a word, as you said, sit down, tunnel jump. But we often see a tendency of verbal cues being a sound or a noise. So it doesn't always have to be an actual word, but I think of it as just any generic cue that comes from your mouth an an audio noise. So it can be a tick,

tick tick or a push or whatever. But anything that we are using from our mouth as a audio cue for the dog to tell them what to do. And, and, and I think that, you know, one thing that we're gonna get deep into here, but I think that a lot of people obviously are very familiar with verbal cues, but I think what people sometimes take for granted or they don't realize,

is how much of the overall cue is not verbal. So people think that they are telling their dog what to do with the words that they are saying, but even in something as simple as a sit or a down and then when you actually start doing agility, it it, you know, it explodes how much of what your dog is responding to is not the verbal cue.

And so, you know, that's where I think that things get a little tricky in the agility world in terms of, you know, how how much is your dog paying attention to the verbal, how strongly do you train the verbal? What does the verbal really mean? How many do you need? What words should you use? Like it does get,

I think it can get a little overwhelming in the agility context And we're definitely going to get into all of that. But first I want to talk about timing of the verbal. So that's a very straightforward one that I think a lot of people don't talk about. Jennifer, when would you time a verbal? So let's say the first two obstacles on a course are the,

the tire obstacle number one and it's a straight shot to the dogwalk. When do I wanna say tire? So special obstacle, it's the first obstacle. And when do I wanna say dogwalk? And does this depend on how I release my dog from the start line? I think there's gonna be a lot of situational answers to that question and a little bit dependent on the scenario.

I think the most broad answer I would say is after mental, but before physical commitment. And what I mean by that is in the case of tire dogwalk, you know, the dog needs to be mentally committed to the tire, but we don't wanna wait for physical commitment to the tire because how the dog performs the tire is dependent on where they're going.

So whether they jump an extension or collection or the left lead or the right lead, the actual jumping form is dependent on them knowing where they're going. So I wanna make sure that before they lift for the tire, if it is in fact a straight line, I wanna make sure that before they physically commit for the tire, they know it's the dogwalk so that they can jump appropriately in this case jumping with a lot of extension,

a more horizontal arc, et cetera. Now the kind of special condition that would apply in that scenario is I do believe, and I do train my dogs and I think it's pretty natural even if you don't train it. But if a straight line exists when iq, it's at the end, everything between where the dog is and where the dog is going is to be assumed.

All right? So if my dog has tire dogwalk truly in a straight line, we see it all the time and I just release them with walk it, the tire is to be assumed. I would not want my dog to get up, go around the tire in like AKC shape to then load on the dogwalk. And I think most dogs process that way.

And, and again, maybe it is a little bit of of training. Now I also see no reason that you can't just say tire walk as long as that dogwalk cue is given in enough time for them to jump the tire appropriately. So I often think of my verbal cues as, and really all of my cues, but, but my verbals as well is like navigating a driver.

You know, so somebody's driving, you're the navigator and like you don't want to be going 70 miles an hour in the left hand lane and then be like, Hey, that's our exit. You know, you need to say to them, Hey, in two miles it's our exit. And tell them verbally out loud, stay where you're going so that they can make the appropriate adjustment to get from the left hand lane to the right hand lane or merging or slow down.

So I think of my verbals that way. I think the thing that I see in terms of timing, if we're just looking at the timing element as people queuing the verbal after the dog should have already known where to go. And then affecting things like over a jump, like a jumping arc, you know, they don't know its extension, so they jump in collection or they don't know it's collection,

so they jump in extension or they jump on the wrong lead or they try to react because it's late and they hit a bar. So there's gonna be conditions, but I think the, the general is after mental but before physical commitment. Yeah, I totally agree with you on the timing. It's interesting what you said about everything being assumed. I'll give people an alternative strategy that I think is very similar to,

to what you're saying. And in that situation, what I do is what I've, I've called Q stacking, which is if the, if if they can see all the things they're taking, then I won't even wait to give them the cue. So whereas you just said walk it and the tire was assumed, I would say, I would say tire walk it and there would,

it would, it would literally be like that they would be on the start line and I would say tire walk it because I would be giving them both cues because they can see both things. But it's basically the exact same idea. It is, there is a line of stuff you can see it and I'm just gonna, you know, kind of release you to this entire line A hundred percent.

That would be verbally how I probably would sound, I think I would also say tire walk. I don't think I'd actually say just walk. And I referred to that as verbal layering. So same concept. I'm right on board with you there. Yeah, Yeah. That is so interesting. And so I think that really drives home the point of how contextual verbal cues can be.

So a very simplistic way to think about it that a lot of people might have that I think is, is probably not what's happening. So it's, it's not accurate. People think, okay, well as a handler, handler a doesn't really use verbals, it's mostly body. I see them say the wrong words several times and sometimes they forget to say things 'cause they're outta breath and the dog always seems to know where to go.

That dog is probably not, not verbal. And then they go, well handler be tremendous distance skills. They're often, they're, they're not as mobile. The dog can go out and then distinguish between backside and throttles and two obstacles that are placed very close together. They do very well in, in gamblers and the snooker type games. And you say,

okay, well that, that person, that dog is highly verbal and, and I think that's just a very rough generalization that maybe isn't too helpful because like Jen was saying, if you have a dog that's gonna go around the tire as obstacle number one and take the dogwalk, if, if that dog were a hundred percent verbal, she is saying that that's what the dog should do,

right? Because at no time was the verbal cue for the tire given, right? So that dog clearly can't be by definition a hundred percent verbal, but that very same dog at jump number 15 out in the corner, Jen may be able to send that dog 25 feet away from her while she gets prepared for the next part of the course and of some long line or something and she can send that dog out to the corner.

And then that dog is able to distinguish based on verbal alone because the handler body position, path, direction, everything she's facing is the same for either of these cues. The dog will know to take it either straight on or the, the backside or the throttle depending on what you're thinking of it. But either side of the jump out there alone in the corner,

handler's 25 feet away and can't help the dog, okay? In that moment, that dog is highly verbal, but understand that they're highly verbal in distinguishing just between two things. There's nothing else out there, right? I think it becomes more complex if say there's a tunnel like three feet next to that jump on one side and there's, you know, the other tunnel entrance and there's like a second jump and,

and things like that. The more obstacles you throw out there, right, the more, the more quote unquote verbal the dog needs to be. So in some sense, I guess there's two points here. One, the verbal can be like, okay, verbal in, in very specific situations. And then two, like some verbal tasks, some verbal discriminations are more difficult then others.

So you can have a dog that's pretty good at that and another dog who's also in general highly verbal, good distance handling and all that, but not very good in that situation, right? So when we evaluate the dog, it's, it's too general to say this dog is verbal, that dog is less verbal. That may be grossly true, you know,

overall kind of true. But I think agility at, at a very high level has kind of really evolved to this nitty gritty, very specific sequences and situations where we demand that our dogs be skilled enough with their verbals to navigate backsides versus straight on or certain discriminations or weave pole entries with a tunnel entrance nearby, right? Because the handler, their path and direction is going to be exactly identical,

but then you have these other setups that are so common, exactly like Jenna saying, you know, you don't need to say tire dogwalk on a straight line opening. Yeah, I think you made a really good point, which is the, you know, we have to get away from thinking of teams dog handler teams as being verbal or not verbal, and instead look at where they need those verbal cues.

And I, I think that's a a, a great segue to how many verbal cues do you need? And I think the answer is you need however many you need, right? And by that I mean like, if you're getting around courses, you know, with a handful of cues and there's no questions, you know, in your dog's mind and you're not running in,

you're not struggling with any challenges or whatever, then you have all the verbals you need, right? But if you're consistently struggling on a particular skill and you need to create more distance and you need to create more independence from your dog, then that one skill might need a really strong verbal, but that doesn't mean that you have to go in and, you know,

revamp your entire queuing system to be a hundred percent verbal with all of the different obstacles and all the different cues. So like, to give a very concrete example, let's say, you know, you've got your, your basic cues for, for your obstacles, right? You've got a jump cue and a dogwalk and an A frame and a tire and a weave and a tunnel and you don't have much else and you're doing pretty well.

But occasionally, you know, you have a backside cue, but you also have a lot of physical help. But now you're starting to get into situations where you have to be so close to the dog on the backside that then you, you consistently are having mistakes after backsides. 'cause you can't get away from the dog to handle whatever's next, right? So then that's a case where you might need to work specifically on your backside verbal,

not everything, not every cue under the sun, not four different cues for the tunnel, right? But you need a more verbal backside because that's the issue that you've been running into. And I think that this is a really great strategy for answering the question for yourself, how many verbals do I need? What verbals should I add? Is basically looking at what problems am I having on course?

It's always such a complex question when handlers are, you know, students will ask me, okay, how many verbals do you have? Or what verbals do you have? I think a lot of times they're trying to match theirs with mine because it is convenient. If your instructor's verbals match your 'cause, then you're gonna hear 'em say it. But for me it's such a loaded question because it's all dependent on my dog.

So I'll use very, maybe easy example. I have a french bulldog named Fudge, or shall I say my husband has a French bulldog named Fudge. Any agility that fudge does is above and beyond what we thought he would do, right? We got him as a pet. So we primarily do AKC. I have no intention to do anything other than AKC with him.

You know, maybe get a mock, maybe do something, add on top of that, that his speed relative to mine is more comparable than the border collies or the Shees is relative to mine. I'm not gonna say I'm faster than him because he could definitely outrun me, but we're, we're closer together. So the verbals that we have, the list is much shorter than what it would be for B who I'm hoping to go to Europe every summer or every fall with.

So it's very situational based on my goals, what organization I'm planning to do, what events I'm planning to do, and then also my speed relative to theirs. I think honestly, I think fudges only verbals are obstacle commands. I'm not sure that he has anything beyond just like jump tunnel climb table weave. He knows those. We, we haven't even really done much with discriminating u-shaped tunnels,

you know, he's only done a handful of shows, so we're hoping, we're hoping to get there, but you know, what I would do with him and what I would do with B are different. So if somebody's like, make a list, well it's very dependent on the dog. And so I think you're gonna see that with teams, right?

So from team to team handler to handler, you know, one handler hoping to do X, y, Z event and another, but also if one handler has multiple dogs, it's realistic and reasonable to say that different dogs can have different verbals, whether it's be based on their goals or whether it be based on kind of the evolution. So my older dogs don't have as many verbals as my younger ones because the evolution of the courses and the need for what verbals I have changes.

And I think you hit on that point, Sarah, about, you know, what verbals do you need? The one that's come up recently with me is we are seeing a, a pretty strong shift of handlers wanting to do two backside verbals. So a backside verbal for when the dog, you want the dog to go around and slice and then a backside verbal for when you want the dog to go around to do more of like the curl on the same wing.

And I debated with my young dog, am I gonna do this? Am I gonna have two different verbals? None of my other dogs have two different verbals for backsides. And I thought, and I thought, and I discussed with a couple other people and I thought to myself, you know, I have never once needed that verbal, like, I have not gotten myself in trouble once because on a backside B went to the backside and then turned the wrong way or went the wrong way.

So for me, I decided that temporarily or for now, I am not going to teach two different backside verbals. So you know, as you were saying, you tend to be motivated to train verbals based on what you need and what kind of gets you in trouble or what you find. Now it doesn't mean, I mean my, my dog's young,

he's 14 months. It doesn't mean that in three years I might need it, in which case I will train it at that point. But I'm very motivated to train a verbal based on what I find the need for. And so right now that's been the, the big discussion, the big controversy on verbals that's been in my life is do I do two different backside verbals?

And right now I've decided no, I'm still gonna keep with two th threadle verbals, but I am going to stick with just one backside verbal, which also makes it easier for me because then his verbals match B and high five and surprise. So it makes it easier the more consistency I have from dog to dog. Yeah, I think there's this element of on time learning,

which if I'm using that phrase correctly, is like when you need something then you go and you learn that thing. I call It just in time. That's just in time. That's a computer science term. Just in time, just in time, Just in time learning, right? Yeah. So if you, if you don't need it right now, you may or may not need it in in the future,

don't let it bog you down now because I think there's a, a subset of agility people, and I'm very much in this category where I wanna get everything right? You get that new, new dog, new puppy, or you're just coming into the sport and you want everything to be perfect, right? And you want to go to Jen and you wanna say,

Hey, you're the best that in the business. Tell me what verbals I need. I want my dog to be exactly like yours. And what Jen is cl very clearly said is right, it depends, it depends on you and the dog and the venue you're competing in and what your goals are and how oriented to body language versus how verbal your dog can be or your,

the breed of your dog tends to be, right? There's so many different factors that go in there. Don't get paralyzed thinking I need to teach them 30 or 40 different cues, verbal cues, and that I cannot start putting together sequences or entering trials until my dog is able to perfectly discriminate, verbally discriminate this situation and that situation and that situation. When you get out there,

your first courses, regardless of organization, regardless of your ultimate goals for this dog, they're gonna be novice courses. Okay? And you're probably not going to need the kind of amazing verbal discrimination type moves that you're going to see on social media on very specific courses from very specific competitions, from very specific handlers who are going to tend to have border colleagues and shelters,

right? So I think that's very important to keep in mind, don't get paralyzed, get out there, get going just like any other skill, there's going to be polish that's added on later, right? You may think, for example, you can think of verbal skill as kind of like a weave. So that's gonna be my example. Yes, your dogs can weave six poles at least in AKC,

and then you can get out there and trial and then some people have to take a little bit of a break between novice and open because that's when you change from six to 12 poles. And so you need like a little bit more polished. Or some people might be, well my dog can weave 12 poles, but we can't get certain entries or exits and by the time I get to masters or I'm able to qualify for events like AKC nationals that age,

you know, more like four or five or or or six that I can add on those entries later. So you don't have a hundred percent finished product before you get out there. So I think perfectionism, this is a huge trap for the perfectionist. This whole concept around verbal cues and what do I need and figuring it out. It can cause so much stress and anxiety because you feel like you have a hundred percent control over it as the human and you're,

you might be letting down your dog or your team or, or the goals that you have for each other. Yeah, I think there's a huge element of trust and, and by, and, and what I mean in this context is you have to trust in your ability as a trainer, right? And so you have to know that if, you know,

if you have the dog, first of all, if you have the dog training skills to, to train 30 verbals in general, right? Then you have the, you have the training ability to train 10 now and add two or three, you know, a year from now, right? And if you don't think you have the training skills to add new things later,

then I guarantee you you don't have the training skills to add them all at the beginning either. So it's like, let's start with kind of the minimum amount and then let's add as we go and trust in your future self to be able to do that. The MVP Yes, the, i I had that exact thought. The minimum viable product. Like that's what,

that's what we wanna do here. And, and of course it depends on the dog handler team and it depends on, on like how old your dog is and well, how much time you have to devote to training. I mean, some people can do a lot of stuff when the dog's a puppy, but I guess I'm speaking, and I think you're speaking specifically to the people who do feel completely overwhelmed,

who feel behind, who feel like they can't move on, they can't make, make progress because they haven't got their 30 cues all completely trained. And so like why even bother moving to the next step? I think those are the people that need to like take a breath, you know, know that you can add things later and really kind of look at what do I actually need right now?

And I think the longer you wait, not that I'm encouraging people to wait, but you learn a lot about your dog, right? I mean, what you know about your dog when they're six months old and what you know about your dog when they're three or three and a half changes, you start to understand how they learn. You know, are they latent learners?

I mean, I'll use my border collie high five, what I know about her now and how she learns and how she processes and how she thinks is very different than the dog that I thought I had at four and five and six months old. So it allows me to be more efficient in my training, right? You kind of know your dogs, right?

How they think, how they process. So there can be huge benefit to kind of delaying some of them. I also do feel like, and, and I, I'm sort of switching the subject to more of the technical aspect here, but I do feel like one of the ways that handlers mess up verbals or rather confuse verbals, not ruin 'em, but confuse them,

is presenting discriminations too early on. I've been pretty big on this in the last year or so about not presenting a discrimination between two verbals or two skills too early on. If I have, let's just say I have a tunnel and a jump next to each other, I'm gonna really, really, really test my dog's understanding of tunnel. Do they know tunnel?

Do they know tunnel in all context? Can they do tunnel 20 feet away? It's sort of like the, you know, Dr. Seuss, can you do it here? Can you do it there? Can you do it everywhere? But then I'm also gonna do the same thing with jump and then separately make sure those are really good and then present the discrimination and the choice.

So I think when people try to throw too many verbals too early on, you do get into a little bit of the dog guessing and the guessing and the confusion and the, I don't know, let me just see if I can do this happens. And then you, you know, you end up messing up diluting kind of polluting your verbal. So I think there is some advantage to not doing too much too soon to really solidify 'em and and seek clarity for your dog.

Yeah, and I, I think that like we kind of said at the very beginning, there is so much of the cue that is not verbal. There is your movement, there is your position, there is where you're running, there is the layout of the, of the sequence. And the more experience you give your dog with pairing the verbal with everything else,

the more that verbal takes on like better, more contextual meaning. And so then, you know, I think as Jen said, then it's a little bit easier for them to start to distinguish the verbals. But when you're like, no, you're gonna do, you're gonna do all of agility by auditory only first before I give you all of the other help that I could give you,

like my motion and my running and everything like that. You were, you were just setting up a more difficult learning path because you're, you're basically saying you have to do the hardest thing first. And then I'll add in the, the easier things because you know, I believe that like physical cues are easier for the dog to understand than verbal, like right off the bat,

right? Like dogs are are going to run when you run, they're gonna check in when you stop. You know, like there's a lot that's very natural about the physical cues. So I like to say like, okay, let's go out there and we're gonna teach you how to do things and I'm gonna use some help and I'm gonna, I'm gonna pair the verbal that the verbal is gonna start to take on more and more meaning.

And now I can start testing that verbal without all of the help. And it, I think it's an easier process for the dog. Yeah. Not only are verbals, I I do believe less natural. I mean, think about, think about an eight week old litter of puppies, right? You go to see the puppies and you know, you show up and you bend down and just bending down,

they come over, you take off running and they chase you. But you can take that same litter of eight week old puppies and sit down left, right? And nothing's gonna happen, right? So just simply the idea that the verbals can be secondary to the motion. I mean, I, I a hundred percent agree. I, I, when I'm,

I try to always let my verbal and my motion match. But the reason I train verbal so hard and I work verbal so hard and I prove my verbal verbal so much is for the moment when I can't be there. So I never tried to move right and say left, but I train left so that if I'm so far behind down the dogwalk that my dog doesn't know where I'm,

that the left has some value in it. So I'm always trying to let the two compliment one another and then training for the situation when my motion can't. I also think, and, and we talked a bit about this, but you know, different dogs have a different tendency to respond to verbals and learn verbals. And I think I, I'm truly meaning as you guys said,

but dogs not just breeds. I mean, yes, we can get into some stereotypes with regard to breeds, but even within a breed, some dogs tend to be a little bit more verbal than others. So the, the more motion you put into play, the more information you're giving him. And why would you withhold information when you could, if I can use all of my body cues,

all of my hand cues, all of my positional cues, verbals, all of that, why would I withhold it? So we want that verbal to be a supplement to what the body is using, but train it enough that if you are not there, the dog does have some understanding of it. A hundred percent agree. I feel like it's, I feel like for both people who are more verbal and less verbal,

that applies. So, you know, I've looked at a lot of videos for students in our VIP and even for the distance handlers who are really leaning on verbals. My advice to them is, okay, your verbal is primary, but give as much physical as you can to support it. So for that dog, the verbal might be primary, but having any kind of motion in the correct direction is like increases the dog's confidence that they've made the right choice.

And it works in the reverse for handlers who are very motion based, right? If you're, you know, giving all of these motion cues to your dog, but that verbal can be that extra 10% that makes them really sure that they're right. And the more sure the dog is, the more confident they are, the faster they're going to go. And so I think,

you know, like you said, giving them, giving them both and making it match when you can is going to result in the best, fastest, most confident response from the dog. I think that's all very well said. I wanted to bring up something else, which is there are people, and I don't want to name names Sarah,

but Sarah, there are people who occasionally throw out the wrong word. Oh yeah, that's me. Right? And that can really freak people out, you know, especially now I don't wanna name names, but you know, it was still on. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, you say the wrong words, the dog does the right thing anyway,

but what, what's the deal with that, Jen? What are your thoughts are on, especially for people who are frequently going to get words wrong, maybe even left and right. I remember having heated discussions with my training partner who's sitting here next to me about the ability to use the cues left and right in the middle of a course. If you can't pick the right word,

like is this really a viable system? Is this something you should even bother trying to teach your dog? Jen, what do you think? Yeah, it's funny, it just came up last week at the invitational, the finals right by the camera, right by the speaker. Somebody hollered left and it was a right hand turn and the dog did it perfectly.

The cues, the body cues were on point. The dog knew exactly what to do. But I looked at who I was standing next to and I'm like, I bet they're gonna be a little embarrassed when that's on ESPN. But as far as the left and right thing, you know, I think it's, it's handler specific for me. I'm really proficient at left and right and it doesn't matter whether I am doing it for my own dog or I'm looking at a person,

I can look at a person and say, oh, your cup is in your right hand, your dog is on your left. So I do a left and right verbal, but I do have a majority of my students who do their verbal as either the dog turning towards them or their dog turning away. So it's based on their or position. So if the dog would be on their right,

they have a verbal that means turn towards me. So in that situation, it would be a left hand turn, but if we were to reverse it, it would be the same verbal the dog was on their left and wanted to turn. Right. So I think there's, you know, kind of different mindsets. It's, I think for me it's,

'cause I've been teaching and teaching agility, which is so much left side, right side for so long I think of dance instructors, they can like face the students but but do the, the mere image of it so easily. Mm. Yeah. So I think it's kind of dependent for me, left and right is really easy. Whether my dog's coming towards me or my dog's going away from me.

So I do the left and right. But almost everybody that I train with does a towards me in a way. So they have like a rear cross queue that just generically means turn towards a, a turn away and then a generic like check, check or dig, dig. That means, you know, generically turn towards the argument that I would make there is that if you are making your cues based on where you are,

are they really verbal cues at that point? So my whole thing is, the reason I want right and left is if I'm training verbals, the verbals need to work when I'm not there. They can't be positional based on where I am. So to say to my dog, Hey, I need you to turn towards me is not necessarily a verbal. If the dog needs to know where I am in order for that to be.

So, so far it's working for me, but I think it really has to just do with the handler and how good they are on those left and rights. That's so funny because I am Jen's exact opposite. I've struggled with left and right my entire life. She really has. I, I mean like really, really, really struggled really. And yeah,

I I I don't get it right. And I, I want all of the, the VIPs who have gotten feedback from me to like put in the comments their impressions, because I'm telling you when I'm giving feedback and I have to say like, your left or your right hand, there's gotta be 50 different VIPs that can say, oh yeah, I recognize the Sarah.

And then when you have dog on left, like there's this huge pause and what you don't know is that like behind the microphone, I'm literally rotating my iPad to align up the handler on the video with me in real life. And then looking at my hands and trying to remember which of my hands is left and which is them is right. Like that is how bad I struggle with it.

So yeah, like there is some element of the proficiency of the handler. I'd like to say that it is something that you can learn and is a learned skill, but I'm gonna have to say that there's some amount of, and like there, you know, we're all like good and bad at different things in life, right? Yeah. And so I feel like this is an area where I'm not very good and so I'm not going to continually beat myself up trying to do it.

I'm going to find other solutions. And I think that's one of the, you know, maybe this could be a little bit of the close. That's one of the cool things about agility, right? There's not one way to go out and do it and everybody has to do it the same way. It is a puzzle to be solved and it is a puzzle with many,

many, many, many, many solutions. And like that is part of why we love it, right? Yeah. 'cause we get to go out and we get to figure out the best solution for ourselves and our dog and have that like accomplishment and excitement and when it, it all goes well. It feels amazing. I think especially for the instructors listening out there,

you're going to run into people very good, very talented agility people like Sarah and they just, you know, the left and right may come very easily to you, but it's not going to come easily to, you know, some portion of the people that you work with, your students, your seminar takers, et cetera. So we always wanna be careful not just with verbals,

but anything in dog training and especially dog agility and handling, you know, the, there's not just one ultimate right way usually. Alright, so now as we close this podcast, we wanna kind of go around the horn, the three of us and talk about some different cues that we may have. And we kind of already started this, you know,

I'm, I'm gonna continue on, right? So basically we now know that Jen has left and right and Sarah does not. Right. So Estevan left and right. I Do not, Do not. Alright. So, But, but I did have to specifically for the dogwalk do the other version of that that Jen discussed, which is like out away from me.

Right. And I guess I, we would say come like, come toward me right out and come versus like left and right. But that's very handler, handler dependent. Yeah. Right. But you know, to, to follow on to what Jen said about like, well then like if you're, if you can't be there, what does that mean?

I think the unique thing about the dogwalk is it's pretty obvious to the dog which side of the dogwalk you're on. Even if you fallen behind, like it's such a long obstacle that the dog probably knows which side of the dog watch we're on. So I think it kind of fits in to both of the things that y'all were saying. It's not like it's even a very Specific challenge.

Typically it's the tunnel, right? The tunnel that goes under the dogwalk. Right. They really don't do this as often, but back in the day, they used to do this all the time. You have to go from the dogwalk directly. Let's say you turn left or right and two feet away from the exit is the entrance to the tunnel. Right.

It wraps Back underneath the dogwalk. Right. It's not in favor really anymore. So yeah. Yeah. You don't, you don't really see that We do like, okay, we're gonna have to have a tiny quick caveat here to say that there are some organizations or there are some judges or there are some areas of the country where you still will see that.

And that kind of goes back to this entire, like what are your goals? Where are you showing what matters to you? I do know there are people that I feel comfort see it. So rarely you Not gonna see it at a big event anymore. I don't, I don't think you're gonna see it at a big event. And I think that there,

there are people that see it so rarely that they'll just scratch if that particular challenge is there because it's just not worth the effort or it, it makes everything else so much more difficult. Okay. I got an around the horn. Do you have a rear cross verbal? No, I do not have a verbal rear. Rear cross verbal. It is all about the,

the physical pressure on the dog's line, right. Fit the dog, put pressure, I'll just say, yeah, I'll just say over. And then even whether it's a tight turn or 90 degree or slight angle turn, they have to pick up with other cues and context aside from the verbal, It's pretty common in our area to hear like a switch for a rear crotch Switch.

Yes. Right. Okay. I hear that a lot when I'm doing Feedback. So back to location, is it Teeter or Seesaw? Teeter. I used to always say Seesaw. I've since changed to Teeter. I'm teeter, I'm a teeter person. Yeah. Yeah. That one's always funny. I can always tell where people are from, whether they call it Teeter or Seesaw.

Seesaw. I guess it's like British, Australian, New Zealand, like, I don't know. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm always amus because crown Countries, Jennifer is always talking about the curl, the curl, the curl. And I'm always like the loopy loop. The loopy loop, the loopy loop Loop. I'm more loopy loop than Curl. Of course these aren't,

now we've gotten to just terminology wrap. These aren't even verbals. Right? I don't call, I don't tell the dog loopy loop, but Sure, Sure. Okay. So what, so what is your th threadle th threadle loopy loop. Your th threadle curl. So with, with my last dog venture, I just had the one throttle and then the physical would let them know whether to th threadle a loopy loop or to,

you know, th threadle rear versus throttle slice. I did not have like, like you were saying, I didn't run into any issues with that. So I just had the one throttle and it was here, here, here I'm real, I'm like, like I'm in the same boat as everybody else, like with, struggling with deciding what to do,

blank slate nude dog. And I haven't quite decided, but I think that I am going to have the two verbals and part of it is just, just continuing to kind of evolve my own handling and thinking beyond just what I need. And, and you know, I do train students and stuff like that too. So I think I'm going with two on the throttle.

And I know that you do too on the throttle, right? Yeah. One of the things that's kind of interesting that we have around an area starting to develop is that for the two different throttles, it's the same word, but it's the change in the tone and the cadence. Ah. Which is something we didn't really talk about, but I think that's super worth noting is that it's not just the word,

it is the cadence. It is the tone. So they might use, let's say here, and if it's short and repetitive, maybe a little bit higher pitched. Here, here, here, here, here. Right. That's like the throttle curl the throttle rear. Right. And then if it's drawn out here, here and like kind of dropping down,

it's more the throttle slice. So it's almost, to me it's like the meat in the middle. Right? So I have two different verbals I use in, in inside. Right. But a lot of it is the tone as well. I mean, even my backside verbal is one word drawn out where my throttle is short and repetitive. So it's kind of like the same word,

but changing the tone. And I, I think that's worth noting. I I've always big on my students to pick one it word. Right. So we have hit it target, get it. Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. We get one it word because the last thing I want is a dead toy at the end of a dogwalk and somebody,

somebody's saying hit it and the dog's like, get it. Is it get it? Is it hit It? Ah, yeah, yeah, Yeah, yeah. Is it target? So I think it's more than, you know, just the word, but the, the cadence, the sound, the tone. But for th threads, for me it's two different th threads.

But as we've started, I'm only on one backside right now. Yeah, absolutely. I'm a one backside girl too. I use push, push, push. Interesting. And I think it's interesting, I would say that if, if it's here, here, here, here versus here, I would say that to the dog, they don't even, they that like,

that is not even the same verbal cue just drawn out. Right. I think that's worth noting because it's kind of easier for the handler. Yes. Right. 'cause they don't have to think of all the different words. Right. That's why. But for the dogs, right. So for, but from the dog's perspective to completely different verbals. Well maybe you just got your answer then on what you can do.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exact actually, because I'm not good with words. Well think about what they do With left and right or just with words like, I'm a numbers girl, right? Like me and words don't get along. So Think about, I was just thinking about whistles that they use like For hurting. Yeah. That actually it's, they mean all kinds of things,

But it's a whistle sound. Yeah. It's the same whistle. It's like, is it short, is it a long blast? Does it absolutely a Lyrica component to it. And those are not like words and syllables. Right. And the dogs discriminate very, very well. Yeah. So something to keep in mind if you start getting freaked out about like what words,

what, what monosyllabic sound? Should I repeat la la la or le le le or ho ho ho mery Christmas. You know, like I think maybe that's not quite as important. Okay. So I'll go around the horn here. Sure. I wanna do dogwalk exits, running dogwalk exits I think specifically. And so I'll start with mine until recent trends in dog agility where now everything is straight approach,

straight exit mostly or very slight turn at the end of dog walks. Back in the day you had to do, especially when we were making the transition from stop to running as a big trend, there were judges who were really entrenched in, I'm going to challenge running contact handlers by making them turn very sharply off the dogwalk. So with the, the last dog that I was running,

this is like five or six years ago, you would have the, the softer slight turn and then the 90 degree turn and then a very, very sharp turn where almost essentially they had to come to a dead stop in order to make it. And that's, that's especially useful in that dogwalk to the nearby tunnel that I was telling you about. The one that's just one or two feet away from the exit of the,

of the dogwalk and all, all that has gone away with these straight exits. So now I would say that I don't even have, like, I would just use regular turns. I think with my current gen. What are you doing? So the going straight is assumed. Like I don't have a cue to go straight. So if it's just dogwalk to tunnel or dogwalk to backside or dogwalk,

you walk straight or whatever walk, I just cue whatever's next. Like her dogwalk queue is run, so I just say run and then whatever. And she is to assume to go straight. I did not do probably to the extent that I should have like super sharp right? And super sharp left. They were part of the training on the flat on the mat.

But once the board came into play, as you said, we just don't see those that often. Yeah. So I do have the right and the left. I cannot recall a time in which I have used right and left for soft turns where it's turns away. Right. So whether or not she's actually processing right or left versus, oh, okay,

she said the cue that means don't go straight, just turn towards handler. I'm not sure. But those are more of like if I say soft turns. So I would just like right jump, right jump or left tunnel, left tunnel. And then the few times that I've had the really sharp turns, like the down the dogwalk flip to the tunnel,

I just, I don't cue the obstacle and I just repeat the directional really fast. Left, left, left, left, left or right. Right, right, right, right. So I kind of, it's like the severity and quantity of the left and right. But these days, if I were to see like dogwalk flipped a tunnel like that,

if it was not an event with a lot of things on the line, a big event with a lot of I'd scratch. So we don't really do with any of my dogs. I have multiple dogs with running dog walks and I don't do sharp turns anymore. I just do soft turns with their soft right and soft left. But again, I'm not sure they know left and right as much as they know.

Okay. That's the word that means turn towards the mom and, and then the straight is to be assumed. Okay. Now next one. What about a go on cue? So some kind of verbal cue where the dog need needs to know that they are headed straight. So let's say there are two more jumps to finish a course, it's very clearly in a straight line,

but you as the handler are lagging behind and you are not gonna be anywhere near that second to the last jump, let alone the very final jump. And you can't have the dog curling toward you. So I will frequently advise people that I'm working with you need to teach this dog a go on queue. I personally though, have never had or trained one or used one in handling.

Jen, what about you? So theoretically I do have one. The problem that I have is that I tend not to use it when I'm ahead. So I do have an extension queue. It means extend and go straight. It is not dependent on whether I'm ahead or behind. So if I'm running a straight line and I'm ahead of the dog, those jumps or whatever could all be queues as go,

go, go. I tend to only panic when I'm behind and when I use it, when I'm behind and I'm kind of running out the straight line and I do have a go, go, go with my young dog, I'm trying to switch it over to run, which is run is just like go straight. I can honestly admit that it is one of the verbals that I proof the least and it would not be what I would consider my dogs really strong verbal.

But yes, I do teach my own dogs. I teach my students and I do train a verbal that means extend in a straight line whether you're a head or behind. Yeah. What about you? So I think this is one where I, I'm like you, I have not had the need for it yet, but I will point out what we talked about earlier,

which is the queue stacking. So like, if it's a line of jumps to the end, I like, I would be at the back as soon as they made the first turn. I would say over, over, over, over. You know, and I think that that is, it kind of serves a similar purpose because you're saying you can see all of those jumps.

Go take them. You don't need to check in with me. And so I think the q stacking helps. I will be teaching though a, a more formal go on with my next dog. So I am, I am now, I am now in a situation with where the difference between my speed and my dog speed is the greatest that it has ever been in,

in life ever. Like the dog that I'm working with now is stupidly fast. And he is not just stupidly fast, he's stupidly powerful and I don't wanna get in his way. And so like I am having a whole, you know, new approach to verbals that that is being necessitated by kind of like the sheer power and speed of the dod that I'm running.

And so I'm gonna be putting a lot more focus on verbals and independence. But for the go on, I think I've always been able to, to have a lot of running support for the dog and then paired that with the cue stacking has gotten me what I need. That's gonna do it for the first podcast of 2024. I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday season and happy New Year.

And next week we will be talking about our own New Year's plans for the upcoming year. We'll see everyone then. We'd like to thank our sponsor. Hit aboard.com. Happy training.

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