Wednesday, April 30, 2008

T&H Tip: The Upside Down Outrun

(Don't you love the upside down dog to go with the upside down outrun?)

I promised a tip on tight, slicy outruns and this is the first installment. Many times, novice trainers end up with a dog that sets out on his outrun nice and wide from his handlers' feet. As he runs up the field though, he's getting tighter and tighter and ends up blowing into the sheep or racing across too tight and fast at the top. If you think about the shape of that outrun, it's upside down from the ideal pear shape, where the dog widens as he runs out and lands nice and deep, setting up a calm lift.

Many times, novice trainers try to deal with this by pushing the dog even further off to start his outrun. I find that for a lot of dogs, if you'll actually do just the opposite, and start the dog tighter, or even move him straight forward towards the sheep before giving him the send command, that the shape of the outrun will improve. The dog tends to begin his outrun with a more proper attitude, is feeling less pressure from the handler, and is in contact with the sheep from the beginning of the outrun. You have to be a little careful about this with a dog that has a ton of eye, but even dogs with eye prefer this sort of outrun, where they can check the sheep and bend, check the sheep and bend, as opposed to just running pell mell, not in contact, until oops, there's the sheep, let's bang into them.

So, if you're having outrun problems, stop to think about whether it's an upside down outrun you're getting.

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