As humans, we can get a little bit handsy! Because we are so good at using our hands and arms, techniques are also taught to handlers with emphasis placed on which arm you are using, when that is really only a tool agility instructors use to get your chest to point to the correct line. Now that you’ve practiced pointing your chest to the correct line, we will work on our arms as an extension of our chest, and how to use them with minimal flailing and maximum support to our handling.
Exercise 7: Changing guiding arm without changing sides of the line
Sometimes, we need to change which arm we are using to change where our chest is pointing, without changing sides of the dog, and without turning our lower bodies towards the dog’s path.
Hold the bar in your non-dog side hand (that means you’re looking over the other shoulder, where your virtual dog is), feet forward, and begin walking. Bring the bar across your chest, touching your dog-side hand, then return the bar to your non-dog-side and repeat.
Exercise 8: Passing the Bar
My goal as a handler is to maintain connection (with my eyes and chest) with the dog’s intended path. This connection will naturally be broken when we execute certain techniques (blind crosses, and any technique that includes a head turn) but it should not be broken during any of the other techniques, and quite often it is, because of our arms.
Switching the guiding arm at the wrong time, or too abruptly, changes where the chest is pointing, which is distracting to the dog. My goal with my arm movements is to make them seamless, as if you are passing something from one hand to the other, like so:
The hand that the bar is in moves all the way to the new hand before returning to your side. This ensures that your chest maintains the correct position throughout the entire handling technique.