International handling can be very intimidating to a competitor who is not used to seeing these types of challenges. However, you too can handle these complex sequences. The process is very simple:
- Teach your dog a consistent set of cues for each skill.
- Execute these cues one after the other in rapid succession.
I expect you’re thinking “oh, is that all?!” (heavy sarcasm). Let’s look at these two keys points.
Teach your dog a consistent set of cues for each skill.
Many beginning level handlers do not teach their dogs the ‘advanced’ skills of serpentines, threadles, and 270’s as part of their initial agility training. However, when these skills are introduced as part of a consistent set of cues, they can be a part of any handler’s toolbox from their very first trial. You and your dog need to be comfortable with these moves so that you can execute them quickly and fluidly without much thought, because you will need to . . .
Execute these cues one after the other in rapid succession.
‘International handling’ can be broken down into individual moves. The challenge comes in performing these moves in quick succession without pausing to ‘think’. You also have to have a level of proficiency that allows you to trust your dog on one maneuver as you move into position for the next maneuver. Let’s take a look at a particularly tricky bit from the 2012 FCI World Agility Championship large dog individual jumping round.
The Coach’s Eye analysis below shows Greg Derrett and his dog Detox tackle this particular sequence. We can break this handling down into 6 moves over 6 obstacles.