Handling Check-In: How Would You Rate Your Leash-Handling Skills?
How many times have you walked to a start line and had a bundle of a knots in your hand?! Or during the search, the line is caught up on your dog's legs, part of the search area...wrapped around you?!
To be an effective teammate for our dogs, we MUST master our leash handling skills.
This means we must:
1. Avoid inhibiting the dog from doing their job.
2. Smoothly feed out the line when the dog needs more space.
3. Smoothly reel the line back in when we are closing the space on our dog.
4. Properly utilize the line to allow our dogs to have the optimum amount of space to work out the odor puzzle; too close and we could be blocking their access, too far away and the line will get tangled in things.
5. Be proficient enough to avoid inadvertently correcting our dog, yanking them off from doing their job or simply being frazzled and thus not paying attention to what our teammate is telling us.
Are you achieving these 5 things when you are doing Scent Work with your dog? If not, take the time to really practice. Your dog deserves for YOUR skills to be up to par as well!
Practice with a family member or a friend. Have them play the role of "dog" by holding the clasp of the line and walking around your yard. As you get comfortable, have them take sudden turns, changes in speed, direction and so on...just like the dog would do. Practice reeling in the line to get in to reward them and feeding it out to allow them to get ahead of you. Does it sound silly? Sure. Can it really help? Absolutely.
After this, practice with your dog OUTSIDE of the context of Scent Work. Just have them go around your yard, eating treats or following a friend, and do all the same things: feeding out your line, reeling it in again, preventing it from dragging on the floor, not holding it up to the sky, etc.
Put in the time to get your leash handling skills up to par.
So, how would you rate your leash handling skills?