This weekend, I've heard twice something like "o.k., yes, but with medium dog, that's easier". Can somebody please explain me why everybody thinks medium/small dogs are easy to handle and a pure fact of a dog, being large, makes them so much more complicated to handle??? Why would it be easier to handle La who constantly sets the best times from all jump heights than a large dog? Because large dogs jump longer? Well... My large dogs do jump long (one of them EXTREMELY long) when asked to, but when they are asked to jump short, they jump shorter as any untrained small dog!:)
Don't get me wrong, I personally do prefer running in large vs. medium class, simply because there is for sure more competition and little details that I love so much are even more important. I really love running in large, it feels really good when my slow no-drive Bu sets best time in large, thanks to her turns:).
BUT I must admit Bu is my by far easiest dog to handle. Why? She is my best trained dog. The only difficult thing about handling her is how to get her to the start line without her getting scared of a dog passing by, of a too loud voice or anything else... Once on a course, everything is very easy with her, the only problem is when I'm too late with my directional cues... If she is already in the air, she will try to correct her path and knock a bar... And if she is already landing, she will make a big circle of frustration about not being on exactly correct path first before coming back. So she is really great handling teacher, she always does exactly what asked, but insists to be asked in time, or...
La is Bu's opposite. She doesn't care where, why, who, when... - as long as she can run. Unlike as with Bu, I can save the situation even when I was too late with my directionals and she is just as happy in whatever enviroment. BUT the more exciting&louder the enviroment is, the less she listens and more she just runs...
And Bi is again another story, she is for now the hardest one to handle, simply because she is not yet fully trained and because we still need to improve our team work.
To sum it up, in my opinion, what makes a dog easy or difficult to handle is mostly how well he is trained. By order of importance, I will list some skills that make a dog easy to handle:
1. cik&cap - I never get why people don't train that, I think cik&cap make life SOOO much easier. Of course, you can get good turns by just handling (look at the Italians or Finns afterall:), but handling just gets too complicated - to the point of being impossible on some courses.
2. good understanding of switching from obstacle to handler focus and back
3. independent obstacle performance - whatever that performance might be. I'm always stunned when people say running contacts are too difficult for them to handle, but at the same time need to completely stop with their dog on every contact... Is it really easier to start with a dog from zero speed as to keep running and move where you need to be when the dog is running his contacts? The same with weaves... The beauty of weaves is that you're always faster as a dog on this obstacle and it allows you to position yourself for the next sequence - if of course you can leave the dog in alone...
4. good balance between liking all the obstacles, handling moves, close and distance work
5. other directionals: out/around, left&right, go
6. start line stays - yes, it does make life somewhat easier, but as you see, that's still at the very bottom of my list of skills
And of course, the faster the dog and the longer the strides, more important those skills are. The more of those skills are missing, the harder the dog is to handle, especially if a dog is really fast and long strided. But fast and long-strided is still a piece of cake if you only take the time for cik&cap!:)
Feel free to post the skills you think are the most important.