January 23, 2024

Episode 330: Early Take Off (ETO) – Part 2

photo credit: Great Dane Photos

In this episode (44:38)

In this episode, we delve into Early Take Off (ETO) in agility dogs with our guest, Jean Lavalley. We explore the complexities of ETO, its effect on dogs’ agility performance, and share personal experiences dealing with this challenge. Make sure you listen to Part 1 first: Episode 329: Early Take Off (ETO) – Part 1

You Will Learn

  • What Early Take Off (ETO) is and how it affects agility dogs.
  • The common signs and symptoms of ETO.
  • Handling adjustments for dogs with ETO.
  • How students and instructors should approach ETO.


Welcome to the podcast, I'm Sarah, and this is episode 330. Today's podcast is brought to you by hit aboard.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 hit aboard.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. Today's podcast is also brought to you by our very own Bad Dog Agility AKC Nationals Prep course. If you are going to the AKC Nationals in March this year, you absolutely need to register for this course. Every year we have our participants making it to the Challengers round and finals in their height class.

In fact, we usually have at least one prep course participant in every single height class in both regular and preferred. In this course, we take a look at last year's event, go through all five maps so that you get a sense for the kinds of challenges that appear at a national level event. We then make small space exercises based on the six judges for the upcoming National Agility Championship and new this year.

We're going to have Judge scouting reports for all six judges, where we take you through some of the patterns and trends that we saw from that particular judge. This course offers both audit and working spot, so if you want a working spot, you will get feedback on your videos from the Bad Dog Agility team. Myself, Estevan, and Jennifer Crank, if you're not going to Nationals,

this is still a great course because the nationals judges represent what is currently going on in our sport, especially in AKC agility. So the things that they're going to put in their courses are also the things that you're going to see every weekend at your local trials. This course is only open for registration for a few more days. So go to the show notes at baddogagility.com/330

for a link to the Nationals Prep course. Today's podcast is a continuation of our discussion about early takeoff. If you have not listened to part one, you want to start there, you can find that at baddogagility.com/329. And there will also be a link to part one in the show notes for this episode. Clean Run put together a,

a focus issue where basically all the articles in the entire issue were all about ETO is in 20 17, 20 17. Jean has an article in there as well, and I'm gonna put a link to that because it, it has a lot of, a little bit more of the nitty gritty detail about ETO that, that we've kind of glossed over. But I think that for anybody who wants to look further into it,

for anybody who's been told that they have ETO and they find this podcast, like I think it's a very, very good reference. And in there it'll talk about the, the, the vision element of ETO, that that has been kind of discovered to be a, a piece of this and like what you can do. But the short answer is it's not a simple vision test.

You're like, just 'cause you go to get your CREF, you know, certification does not indicate that your dog is clear from it. It's, it's something that's a little bit more specialized than that, but it, we do at this point consider it to be a vision issue. Yeah, that clean run article is a great resource and typically where I send people,

and your point about the surf I think is important one, because I get that a lot. I'll say to somebody, I think there might be a visual factor. I I try to leave it pretty open ended since we don't have a lot of knowledge and I'll say, I think there's a visual factor and they wanna come back and Oh, well I had a surf and he's clear and yeah,

we just, that's just not enough for the level of vision that we're looking for and the depth perception component, Right? Right. I'll take it even a step further. All three of my dogs had completely normal surf exams and normal refraction tests. And nor, I mean, basically we had complete ophthalmological workups and there was nothing wrong structurally with their eyes,

but they clearly there it was clearly vision related because lighting affected it. I I could, I, I did a demonstration video one time where I had my dog get into the back of the car with the lights really bright, and then I had her get in the same car with the lights very dimm. And you could see the difference. I mean,

it, it has to be visual if lighting affects it. Yeah. Right. Yeah. But there was nothing structural that they could see in their eyes. And so that's why we talk about more of a perception or how their brain takes in processes the information. Right. It's, it's not, and, and then, but then there's also this side of that where I know a dog who had PRA,

who it showed up as the dog started developing vision deficits. ETO showed up. Obviously that dog progressed very fast because it had a true structural problem with the eye. Yeah. And, and I think this is one of the reasons why people get so sad when, when, when instructors mention ETO, because it, it is, it is something that typically shows up a little bit later.

Like we're talking like three years old, four years old, but basically long enough that now you've put a lot of time and effort into this dog. It's not something that you're gonna catch when they're six months old or 1-year-old. And so, And some dogs you will, I've definitely seen it super Young. Right. But I would say that that's not the common there mostly Because you're not jumping your dog that young.

Right? Right. Exactly. But it, my point here being that there's a, you've, you've invested a lot of time, money, energy, and emotion into a dog by the time most of them start to show ETO. Okay, so we have the four of us here, each of us have run dogs with early takeoff, right? We've all had that heartbreak,

that pain. We've each tried a million different training solutions. We've grown up in, well, we've all been involved with agility almost from the very start, right? So we've gone through the entire history of evolution and training just in, in techniques and everything from corrections. Like people would correct bars, right? As Jade had mentioned all the way up to trying to use clickers and treats and positive reinforcement only to help dogs with ETO to taking them to the,

to specialists and getting their eyes checked. People have tried using contact lenses, right? With dogs to affect their vision. And so now I wanted to talk a little bit about what we can offer a person besides information, which I think is probably the biggest thing, right? Like, this is what we normally see. These are the possibilities, these are the likely scenarios,

these are the things that you should think about. But like, what are some concrete things people can do, especially if they're a little more on the mild to moderate side where the dog can keep bars up and they're not doing really ugly things, putting themselves at risk, like what I call chesting the bar, you know, right when they hit it with the,

with their chest. And sometimes you see those bars snap, right? That cannot feel good and you can see dogs losing confidence and then starting to go around jumps and things like that. So what are some things that we do for people? Yeah, so the very first thing that I usually am gonna recommend to people is setpoint work. So you could just google setpoint,

and I'm sure I'll find some sort of resource that I can link to in the show notes for setpoint. But it's essentially just like a one jump drill with a, with a bar that kind of forces the dog into a particular jumping pattern and helps them figure out the appropriate jumping the takeoff spot. And it's gonna have two benefits. One is gonna be to try to help them figure out the jumping spot,

but the other is that it also be builds strength in the rear, which can then help them with the, you know, jumping effort overall, especially if they're having to jump a little bit harder because of how they respond to that early takeoff. But the big takeaway that I want to, to put here for setpoint, and the, the point that I make to students when I kind of assign it to them is setpoint is not something where you're just going to teach the dog to do it,

and now you've taught the dog to do it and you're done. It's more like it's, it, it would, it's more akin to like going to the gym. Like you Esteban, if you wanna sha stay in shape, it's not like once I teach you how to do a bench press, you're like, oh yeah, I know how to do bench presses,

now I'm done. And I never have to do a bench press again. You literally have to go to the gym like every single week and do bench press every single week to, you know, that is the goal there. And so I think of setpoint like that, it is not something that you are teaching your dog and then you're done. It's not a cure for ETO where you're gonna do X number of set points and now your dog jumps great and you're done.

Instead, it is something that you are going to work into your routine. And for the more severe, the ETO, like for the really severe cases, I will tell them, I want you to do, you know, just four repetitions of set point. It only takes one jump in a ground bar. It should take literally less than one minute,

four repetitions before you do any session that has jumping. So I want you to, you know, go out, do your, your one minute of set points, and now you can go do the small space exercise, go do one minute of set points, and now you can go to the trial and run your dog. But it, it literally is something like that.

It is part of the, the, the, you know, everyday routine. Yeah. So our, our experience with this was basically our miniature Australian shepherd, and this was something that he actually responded to. So he actually started jumping better and then was able to, I think, compete at his regular high class a little bit before he moved down to preferred.

But at some point, even that was not helping him, right? We continued to deteriorate and then it didn't work. And so of course we having had that experience, right, we said, okay, we saw some improvement here, some, and we weren't imagining it, right? Right. So then when we had people, our VIP members once we're teaching online,

have issues, it's the first thing, one of the first things that we'll suggest, right? We kind of throw everything at a, at, at a person in the kitchen sink. These are all the things you can do, these are all the ways you can manage, these are the changes that you can make to your handling. We'll get to that in a minute,

but what I've discovered is that there's a group of dogs that will respond in a very similar way that, that our Ossie did. Right? They will see improvement, right? And for some of the people, the, it, it's like almost curative, right? Very rare, but it, it seems to really fix the problem. And then for other dogs,

they just get a small amount of improvement. There's Also One bus bar, but there's also a group of dogs where it does nothing, right? They do it and they can't tell any discernible difference. So that's just, just set point is not some kind of miracle cure. Correct. And they can't guarantee that it's going to help your dog, but it's something to do.

The other thing I wanted to talk about was like grid work. I think that's the other common thing that a lot of people do. And I'm like, I'm more like meh or neutral. I, I don't have good anecdotes on grid work. Just most people or a lot of people tend to do it thinking that if they can work on certain spacing and,

and I'm talking about almost like jump shoot work, right? You know what I'm saying? Like three jumps in a row and at different angles. And here I want to get some, some input from Jean and Jen. Let's start with, start with Jen on her experience with setpoint or grids or what kind of jumping exercises or programs that you would recommend to a dog.

I think the issue with ETO is not about the physical ability to get over the jump, it's the assessment of where to take off. So when the handler manipulates and controls the takeoff for the dog, you put them on a sit stay at a set point, you put the jumps at a set distance apart where the dog doesn't have to think and they can just bounce down the line,

it's gonna make the jumping look really pretty because the dog doesn't make the choice. You are forcing them into a certain point. So that's not realistic to a course, right? I mean, you can have 15 feet between, between two jumps and the next jump 21 and the next one 18. And you can't go out there and put them on a,

say, a stay and say, I need you to take off here. And then for the next one here. So the experience that I've had for specifically for ETO dogs is that the set points in the grids where the handler is manipulating, it isn't really having a lot of long-term gain. If I put my dog at a sit, stay at a set distance three feet from a jump,

I'm thinking a she a, a three feet before a 16 inch jump with my ETO dog and I say jump, it's probably gonna look pretty, pretty jump. It's gonna be a pretty arc over the jump because I did their job, but now I run 'em outta 18 feet away and they have to make the decision, do I take off eight feet away,

two feet away, five feet away, four feet away? That's what the hard part is. So I don't think it's a bad idea to do some of those. I haven't seen that it, it, like you guys said, it's worked for some dogs, it hasn't for others, I tend to do a little bit more from the handling side to help them.

So my two big ones to help dogs, like if somebody said, okay, well my dog has an issue, but I wanna help them. I wanna keep running them, I wanna help 'em, what can I do? Two other suggestions. I do find that doing a higher rate of rear crosses is more successful because now the dog only has one visual to focus on.

And that's the obstacle when you're ahead of the dog, especially when you're ahead of the dog running, they now have to focus on the visual of the jump and the visual of the handler. And because the handler is moving at variable distances to the jump, the depth perception is sometimes affected and you'll have issues. So for Presto, I ended up doing most of his career with rear crosses,

and it took myself as the variable out when he was in front of me, the only thing he had to focus on and judge was the jump. And then the other thing, we talked about the slices shaping to create a slice. I mean, we talked about the dogs that sometimes do it themself, but I've had handlers who will look at a line and will say,

okay, how can we change the line? So kind of if you can visualize like a start of a course that just goes straight out, jump, jump on a 90 degree turn, rather than letting the dog go one, two and turn, you can do a V set that's like a terminology where you would actually push the dog off the line a little bit to the left or right so that when they came in over the next jump,

they were coming in more in a slice. That terminology came about a lot from trying to tighten up the turn from two to three. But in the case of an ETO dog, if you can create a slice, you can use your handling to help with the slices. And I'll also say along that standpoint, some of the premier, some of the ISC,

some of the UKI stuff actually is better for the dogs for two reasons. One, you get a lot of slices, and two, when you send the dog to a backside, they now are forced to a close takeoff. So my ETO dogs actually always did better in more technical courses than like an AKC open course. Like if you can imagine an AKC open course,

it's like every jump is perpendicular straight on fast lines. But if I can send to a backside, and Clever did a lot of backsides in her time on the a WC team and doing various events, you send her to the backside, she's now so close to the bar that when she took off, she didn't have that launching. And a lot of the throttles throttle slices or slices over jumps.

So we can, we see, I think in my experience, a fair number of European dogs with ETO, but I don't think people identified as much because the course design over there is different than what we see here here. Interesting. Yeah. So I think some shaping to create slices and rear crosses are kind of some things that I offer often suggest to people to help.

Yeah, that, that's really great. I I, I think what a another kind of interesting thought process or approach is, I think that a lot of times people will want to do jump work because they're trying to fix the jumping, right? Whereas what we're saying is, if it's, if it's truly ETO, you can't fix it, you're gonna manage around it,

right? But I think, so I think that there is a a, a desire to, I've got to do something, so I'll do gr jump work. But the, the one side benefit of doing any kind of grid work or jump work or like, I guess more formalized jump education, if that wasn't part of how you trained your dog, is kind of a process of elimination,

right? Because you, depending on how severe the ETO is, there could be an element of lack of understanding if the dog is younger or whatever. And so by doing some of the grid work, it, it could be you do grid work and it has no effect, then it is probably more likely to be ETO if you do like grid work and progressive grids and it gets a lot better.

It might not have been ETO to begin with. It might be, it might literally be the, the education of the dog. Well, I wanna ask Jean very quickly, so your thoughts on setpoint grid work experience with jumping programs, things like that? I, I, I did a whole lot of that and found no real benefit for the dogs.

Again, I'm kind of on Sarah's side, it's more if it helps a lot of what you're saying might not have been a TO in the first place. I, I actually felt like grid work specifically wasn't good for seven especially. Right. I think it made her worry, it made like, well, oh my, there's so many jobs in their perpendicular.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, and so she could only cope if it was bouncing, just pure bouncing. And then, and then what's the point? It's like what Jen said, it wasn't, it wasn't teaching her anything. We did a lot of, we actually taught her to down on a mouse pad. Her contact behavior was the down on mouse pad.

And so we strategically placed mouse pads all over the place. This is with Linda Mecklenberg, and just to try to make her slow down and think, think about what you're doing and like send her a tar. She do two jumps to a target, two jumps to a target. And, but basically it was just trying to make her brain work a little better because her problem was,

she wasn't thinking, she couldn't think and manage the problem. But again, ultimately we took the mouse pads away. It, it didn't help. Nothing helped. Right. So I tried more avoidance, never show that dog in low lighting. Never, you know, just don't never apply pressure to the dog. Never correct the dog. Right. Never correct the dog.

They cannot be slapped in the face for something they don't know how to fix. Right. And so, like, hence the ball with Specky, when she had a bar, my first response was to try to build her confidence back up. So I think confidence building, keeping the, keeping 'em showing in good lighting as best you can. I mean,

there was just facilities I wouldn't show seven in. Yeah. So things like that, I, I don't, I did not find training to help with my girls. Not to be discouraging, I mean, no, I mean, It's a very discouraging topic if something Can be, we're just trying to be real here, you know? Yeah. We,

we tried a lot of things. I mean, we did a lot of spread jumps where we only use the back bars to encourage her to go deeper in. Right, right. We just, I, I can't even think of all the things that we tried and ultimately none of it really helped. Right, right. Ground bars, ground bars on the exit.

You ever try that? But like if you put, you know how you put a ground bar for a takeoff? Oh yeah. Put ground bars on the exit. Yep. Right. Done. That, that virtually fixed her jumping. I could take puppy seven around a course beautifully if there was a distant ground bar. Yeah. Because it changed her focus somehow.

Yep. Yeah. Yeah. It's so interesting. So we also experimented with one was the lighting. So that was, that's a really key point I think for, for people. So you may have the kind of dog where if it's bright, it's well lit, it's outdoors, you have no issues. And then you go into like a, a horse barn or something and the lighting is really poor,

or trial drags on late and you're in the evening and then suddenly you have bar knocking and early takeoffs and things like that. So I think that's one, we noticed that in our training group as well, our early jumping dog, not ours, but our, our partners early jumping dog, once we hit nighttime and you had to turn on the lights like that,

dog's jumping just completely fell apart, became much worse. We noticed there were differences with bar colors and whether you have tape on certain parts of the bar. So we didn't know if the dogs were looking at the bars and thinking they're like partially there and where it's taped, it's not there. Like we, we don't know, we don't know how it relates to their vision.

And the other thing was the presence or absence of wings. And we even speculated that the wings for the double and the triple being different and even the, the presence of the eye, the electronic eye on the first and the last jump, those dogs would often treat them as spreads. And that you would have this exaggerated early takeoff for those things. So we know,

so we agree with, with everything that you're saying that, you know, there's a lot of evidence to suggest that there's something with the visual input or how they perceive depth or something that is affecting their jumping. And it would be so great if there were some kind of answer or something we could do with their eyes or some kind of lasik you could give dogs and it would fix this thing.

Right. So yeah. So those are all great points. And then one other that you had already mentioned that everyone should do in, in my opinion, do right away in first is to drop them in height. Yeah. And I think Jen mentioned that as well, that can often buy you extra time and, and for some dogs make it okay where they're actually not dropping bars anymore and,

and they get to speed up in general and they love it. And then it always makes me think maybe we should lower the height for all dogs. Right. You know, they, they seem to really love it now. So I think lowering the jump height I think is a great solution. As far as handling solutions, I think everything Jen basically laid out all my tricks.

Right. And of course, you know, between the three of us working together, we're all gonna have the same tricks. But yeah, absolutely. Rear crosses slicing as much as you can. And I think speaking to what Gene said, especially in contrast to how we trained 20 years ago, removing the positive punishment because that's just not what's going on here.

And Right. I've never had anyone tell me, oh yeah, that fixed it. Right? So, you know, if it's not working, and it definitely with a large group of dogs makes it much, much worse and the dogs become very avoidant. It's not something that you should be doing. Right, absolutely. And so then the last thing that I wanna talk about as we wrap up is how instructors can or should approach this,

but also how students should approach this. Because I think that one thing that's, You need students who have it or students talking with other students, because I think as part of this conversation we need to talk about, because one of the articles in that group of articles in that clean run was, should you be pointing out to other people, especially if they're like a beginner,

Hey, I think your dog might have issues. And at that time when that article was written, they were like, no, but I feel like we need to take some of the stigma away. So I think it's all kind of related, or you're talking about specific responsibilities of instructors and responsibilities of students. I guess, I guess what I wanted to talk about,

and we'll see if it, if it covers kind of what you're thinking here. What I wanted to talk about is that I, I feel like instructors can often be very hesitant to tell a student that they think that their dog has ETO. And I think part of the reason is that I, like, I believe that most instructors, because they have seen quite a few dogs,

and I know I've talked to Jen about this and I've talked to several other instructors, most instructors agree that if a dog really has ETO, it's probably not gonna go away. And, and it's probably going to get worse. And that's not something that's fun to tell a student, right? To say, your dog has a problem, and by the way,

I can't fix it. You know, or I can't completely fix it, I can't cure it. And so I think it could be really like, instructors don't wanna say that, but I also think that students are not conditioned to ever hear that. It's not like they view their instructor as a doctor. Like you go to a doctor and the doctor tells you bad news.

You understand that that's part of what the doctors, therefore you'd go to an instructor, you are paying them to teach you something and you expect to be taught and to have it all work and for them to say, yeah, I can't fix this, and neither could you and neither can your dog is, is kind of a hard pill to swallow. So the,

and so that's why I think the information is so important. So I think that, you know, for students, we need to kind of have enough education out there for them to understand what ETO is and what they can and can't do about it, and to know what portion of it they have control over and what portion of it they don't have control over.

And so I would encourage instructors that if you feel like a dog is showing ETO to be very honest and upfront with your students, and, and the reason goes back to the very beginning of this podcast, because if you don't let them clearly know what's happening and why they will continue to blame either themselves or their dogs for something that is not their fault.

And so that's, I think one of the most important aspects. Now, the other thing for, from an instructing point of view that I was thinking about just or kind of had an epiphany and I was like, well also for instructors who teach live, like these jumps happen in a heartbeat. You may have think that looked a little funny, but you can't always replay it exactly in your head.

And I was feeling recently like, gosh, I'm telling a lot of different people that their dog has ETO and I'm the first person that's mentioned it to them. Why? Why is nobody telling them? And then I realized, well a hundred percent of my viewing of dog agility happens on an iPad and I can just, when it looks funny, I can just rewind and do it in slow motion.

So that's a huge benefit to me. And it, it kind of made me wonder, Jennifer, for you having taught so much live, if once you moved from live to online, if you kind of had like an explosion of seeing ETO, because now you were seeing the videos always in slow motion, always being able to back it up, look at the arc and stuff like that.

I don't think for me it changed anything because you gotta remember two, two big aspects. One, I grew up in Shelties. Oh yeah. Running shelties, breeding shelties. And it is really prevalent in our breed. So ETO has been on my radar since like day one and two. I was mentored and trained and taught and grew up in the sport with Linda Mecklenberg,

who is considered one of the experts in jumping. So it was always something that was brought up in my education and taught to me. So I'm like hyper aware, like many would argue I'm too aware and I wanna jump the gun and call a dog to have an issue before it's really an issue. I've tried to be better these years, but I'd see a dog and I'm like,

EIO, that dog has ETO or I, I, I see one of the puppies or dogs I've bred, or a dog I'm looking at breeding into and I'm like, oh, I don't like what I see. Okay, grab all its sisters and brothers and let's see video of it's jumping before we go any further. So I was so aware of it and it was such a forefront of my agility that I don't think the online changed it,

but it does make it so much easier. And it does make it easier to teach because when I do an analysis and I do a breakdown and I can put it in slowmo and I can pause at the dog's highest point of the arc Exactly. And say, Hey look, the highest point of the arc is four feet before the jump. That's not ideal.

The handler can see it, but when the handler is trying to handle, I mean, I've had dogs run by and miss entire obstacles and the handler has no idea, the dog didn't even do the equipment, let alone say to them, Hey, do you realize that on that one jump your dog took off too early? I mean, they're, they're just not that focused in.

So it does help from the teaching standpoint tremendously going online and educating online. I feel like I've had a much better reach and a better job helping to educate, but I don't know that my eye in seeing it has changed much online. Alright, very good. Yeah, so I think that that is, you know, great advice for anybody who has concerns is you need to,

you need to use video, you know, if you have any concerns about your dog, you need to be taping your runs, you need to be taking, taping your exercises. You need to be reviewing that because it is, you know, for the, for the less practiced eye than gens, it becomes very, very obvious on video. And it's very easy to break that down Here.

Let me ask Jean, because the other thing I did want to talk about is the stigma behind it, right? And why there needed to be an article in 2017 that that really encourage people to, to not talk about it at least in certain ways. So what do you all think there's four of us here based on our experiences as instructors or competitors or people bringing ETO to us?

Like how, how should that work? Like within the community? Like what's acceptable, what's not acceptable? Like, and I know this is gonna be very gray area and opinionated, but like what are some factors that we need to consider? Let me start with Jean. I I think the biggest thing for me was the breeding component. I was a breeder and I,

not only, I purchased a dog with it and then I used her sister in my breeding program and backed myself into a corner and essentially ended my breeding program. Yeah. Like I, I lost it. I have nothing left except for frozen semen from one male. That's it. And it was just because I didn't realize that it was genetic, right?

So as far as the stigma, part of that is it's easy for me to say, oh my gosh, I produced this dog and they have it, it's a lot harder for Jen to say that dog has it so-and-so bred it somebody else. And there's a lot, a lot of people as breeders who do not wanna hear it, do not wanna accept it.

Right. And they were often the ones placing the blame on the handlers. It, it had to be the Line. It's not you taught the dog to jump, it's Your fault. It had to be the handling, it had to be the training. It could not be genetics because they didn't wanna, I mean, they've got all these things that they're breeding toward,

especially if you're breeding for confirmation and all that stuff. And now I'm telling 'em they shouldn't sell their dogs to agility homes, you know, because their dogs can't jump. It, it, there's a, a huge pushback from breeders in, in, in our breed. And so they don't wanna hear it. They don't wanna know it. And so I felt a little bit like I had to be very careful what I said because people felt like,

again, it was easy as long as it was my dogs, but for other dogs and other breeds and things like that, they didn't wanna hear it. And it's easier to blame the poor, unsuspecting puppy owner. Right, right, right. So I think that's something to keep in mind for those of you who have dogs with ETO or you may have already had that experience that your breeder is not always necessarily going to be supportive.

Unfortunate, right. Not a great situation, but I think happens. Right. Yeah. Jen, what do you think about how we talk about ETO? What happens when you see an ETO dog? You, you mentioned pointing out, oh, E-T-O-E-T-O-E-T-O-I think a lot of experienced instructors and, and, and people who've been in the sport a long time can kind of do that,

you know, like spot 'em. But what happens if that person's like new to the sport, you know, they're running a novice or open or you know, they've only been doing a jelly for a year or two and you've noticed the slight changes in the jumping over the year or two, but maybe they, they're not training with you or people that you know,

and maybe their instructors, like not really a, a competitor, you know, like, how do you, how, how do we handle this? I try really hard to protect the handlers feelings and their emotions. And that is just so tricky because you're gonna have people handle it very differently. I've had handlers who I say, Hey, I think there's an issue.

And they're like, you, you would've thought I told 'em it was a death sentence. Like, I quit, I'm retiring, I'm getting rid of the dog, I'm getting out of agility. I'm like, no, no, no, calm down. That's not, we, we don't need to jump to conclusions. And then I've had other people where I say,

I think there's an issue. And they're like, okay, how can I help? Like, what can we do? Do we need to do more training? Do we need to do, so I, the big thing that I just really, really want people to take away from this podcast and I try to balance is it's not your fault. I think it's a hard,

hard place to be in. I mean, we go way back to the beginning of the podcast where, you know, Jean was telling her story and when she thought there was a jumping issue, she thought she failed. She thought she failed as a trainer. Yeah. She thought she failed on the jumping. And so I like to educate people and say,

Hey, I think there's an issue, but you know what I, I'm not telling you because you did anything wrong or that you can do drastic measures to change it, but to let you know it's not your fault. And, you know, there are dogs that, that I think there's an issue and they, they don't hit bars. And the handler's really good about if the dog does knock a bar rewarding.

And I'm, I will honestly admit I'm less inclined to have the conversation with those people because it's not gonna change anything. The ones that I'm gonna immediately go to, and I'm gonna immediately have the conversation and I'm gonna bring it up, are the ones who want to correct the dog for hitting the bar. When I see a dog that is struggling to take off and struggling to judge,

and they hit the bar and the handler wants to correct them, those are the ones I'm like, okay, we need to have a conversation about why this is happening because this isn't fair. But if somebody's dog isn't hitting bars or when they hit a bar, they just keep going. You know, if the dog's doing all right, handler's doing all right and everybody's having a good time,

I might, you know, mention it. Again, I don't wanna hide it from 'em, I want it to be a normalized thing, but I'm not gonna be as concerned about bringing it to the forefront because they're already handling in a way that's appropriate. So I think it's really about managing emotions about it and expectations. I think the more we talk about it,

the better people get in realizing, okay, it's not my fault. What can I do to help? How can we make this better? As opposed to immediately feeling guilt or disappointment or, you know, the, the letdown like they have caused the problem or created an issue. Yeah, I totally agree. So it's all about de-stigmatization, right? We just want people to understand that it happens and everything you just said,

I think that's the, the right approach to have. I, I think for a lot of people, like if you're watching a dog and you know that dog's competing at the agility world championship and they're taking off pretty early in some of these spots that that handler probably knows, right? They're probably quite aware of the dog's ETO and has been managing it for quite some time.

When you get to those levels, like it's not like you were out there and you didn't find out clever had ETO until, you know, like the month you retired, right? So you, you had been dealing with that. So mostly people are going to know, I, I think in agility there's always this desire for people to help other people.

And so this just gets tricky because of the stigmatization that people are concerned that other people may not wanna hear it, but I think the group that loses out are those are those kind of new people, right? Who, you know, don't necessarily have the instructor who sees that it's going on, or maybe they see it but they don't mention it. They,

they wouldn't know what to do with it. Anyway. I think those are some tough spots. I feel like it's gotta be okay for some of the veterans to know that, hey, this person is new and maybe I can talk with them about it. But to approach cautiously, I suppose is, is what I think, I don't know, does that sound okay to you all?

Or like, do you feel like this is something like everyone should just be like head in the sand? No one talks about it's someone else's problem, but no one knows exactly whos problem it is except for their instructor, except you know that their instructor doesn't trial anymore or doesn't know about these things. Or is are, or themselves like relatively new to the sport or maybe they're not getting any instruction.

They only do it online, but they don't get any feedback. The online instructors haven't seen their dogs run. Like, like what do, what do we want to do here? I I mean, I, I think it's tricky because I think, like we said before, like one or two early jumps does not an ETO dog make. And so like,

I think I would hesitate to encourage people to run around and see an early takeoff jump in a run and, you know, immediately go talk to the handler and categorize it as ETOI. I think that the, I think that the first line of defense needs to be the instructors and the instructors need to be willing to, to point out to, to students when this is happening.

Even though it's, it's not popular. You might even lose them as a student, like if they, if they quit the sport, like you have lost them as a student. But I think that it's our responsibility to kind of let them know the trajectory and to, to set expectations about, about what they might, you know, do with that.

I think, I think it's an ethical issue. I've, I've talked with people about it and I'm like, Hey, you know, I don't think your dog is really enjoying what's happening here. So I think you need to seriously consider retiring this dog. And, you know, I've help multiple people, you know, make that, make that call.

You know? Right. But you have the experience to, to be able to do it, right. So who, who has the, who has the eye that, that can really make that determination, you know? Right. Well then I would, I would come at it from the other perspective then, rather than sitting on this podcast and saying,

Hey everybody, let's be very careful of what we say, which I think we should be careful of what we say, but is this, you're listening, you know, your dog has ETO tendencies or has ETO, right? And maybe you're kind of tired of people telling you that, but I think somewhat inoculating yourself against that, right? So if you're,

if you have one of the dogs who takes off early from time to time, but you know, it's not progressing, you know, nothing's happening with this, this has been an issue for some time, you say, oh, you know, hey, thank thanks for pointing it out. I appreciate you watching, watching. And you know, it's something that we keep an eye on or I'm always aware of and,

you know, I'm always keeping an eye on it. Fingers crossed it's not gonna get worse, you know, and that's it. That's it. You make little, you know, Hey, thank thanks for sharing. And I'm aware of it and you know, I keep an eye on it. So I think something along those lines, I think it's different when you have a dog that is like really,

really struggling. So like, I think of our dog, right? Denver at year eight, I'm just like, oh man, towards the end, the last couple shows you, I'm just like, oh, I, I don't, I, I don't know that I can watch this run like he's hitting some of these bars, you know, I,

I really think it's, it, it's time to call it. And that's me as the, the co-owner, you know? So I think that's a little bit tougher because we all know people who are going to run their dog when they probably shouldn't and not, and, and not just with respect to ETO with just respect to other injuries or retirement in general,

you know, just overall performance or the dog just being very unhappy about being on course. So I think it, this can kind of get folded up and included with all of that, that some people are, are, I think, gonna be less in tune. And so overall, I think my advice is always to center your dog, you know,

put them at the, at the middle, at the center of all your decision making, their, their enjoyment, their health, their wellbeing, their welfare. And I think you'll, you'll pretty much always make the right decision. Yeah. And I think that that's why, you know, why we wanna put out this podcast is to kind of add to the wealth of information,

to have a place that people can send other people to. Instructors can send students to training partners can refer their, you know, their friends to when they see something so that you can just say like, Hey, like you could even leave the door open for, for like being unsure and say, Hey, I'm not sure that your dog, you know,

is showing ETO, but they're showing some signs. You might wanna check out this podcast, you know, you might wanna check out this clean run article. Things like that. One of y'all were about to say something earlier. Oh, I, when you were talking about a decision to retire, I feel like Spec's career is probably the one I handled the best.

She was the most, I mean, cheer was successful, but Spec was more affected. And I moved her to Preferred, as I said, after an injury, she came back and she was like seven and a half, something like that, competed until she was about 11, I believe. And I literally took her to a show one day, showed her in Preferred,

took her home, she was entered the next day and I didn't take her back and she never showed again. And that was just because she did so well at championship for so long and then she didn't. And then I brought her back and preferred and she did so well. And then one day she had like three bad jumps in one run. And at the time,

cheer was in hobbles because of medial shoulder instability. And all I could think of was, I'm gonna hurt this other dog, I'm gonna let her get hurt. And so I stopped the same day. She literally didn't go back to the show that she was entered in the next day. So I de I definitely think it's different for every dog and every person,

every, but again, it needs to be what the dogs, the dog's needs. I mean, the dog's needs have to come first. Yep. Yeah. Alright, well we, we went deep into all of our, our thoughts and feelings and, and experiences both as handlers and instructors on this topic, but I really hope that it will help people who are struggling to understand a little bit what's going on with their dog and to understand what part they play and what they can and can't do about it.

And that's kind of the, the biggest takeaway from this podcast. And once again, thank you Jean so much for joining us today. It was really great to kind of have that one more additional perspective. Somebody that has had a lot of experience with this particular issue and but has still competed as a high level. So, so, you know, you kind,

kind of gave that hopeful, cheery, you know, rose tinted glass's view of, of how you can still do great things, even if your dog has ETO. So I really appreciate you being on for that. Thanks for having me. And that's it for this week's podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsor, hit aboard.com. Happy training. I was going to tell a time traveling joke,

but you didn't like it.

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