25 October 2013

Help! My dog won't pass!

Your dog won't pass? 

You have come to the right place!

The Outlaws practice a pass. Here the Young Guns go for a pass on the Blonde Bullet.

If you want your dog to pass, you are going to have to practice passing.

The best bet is to get out with a friend and set up a good scenario to pass.  Your friend should have a dog who is stable and calm.  Your friend can be skijoring, or just walking down a trail.  

Keep your training session short, and sweet.   End on a positive note. 

With your friend up ahead of you, let them know you are passing. Most people yell "Trail!".   Begin pulling in your gangline.  Often when you shorten up the line, the dogs will respond by pulling faster and harder.   Start to increase your skiing power, in order to gain the momentum to pass smoothly and quickly.  The objective is to pass cleanly and smoothly, not to blow the other team out of the water with your amazing speed! 
Once you are past the team, keep your momentum going.  Do not allow your dogs to stop or sniff the other team you have just passed.  If they do, keep skiing forward.   Passing means, pass, and keep going!
If your dogs turn their heads back to look at the other team, correct them the moment you see their heads start to swivel, with a stern "No!" Or "On-by" or "Leave it", whatever your dogs will respond to.
Your friend might need to slow down here.  The idea is you want your dogs to pass, and keep going.  If the team is running too close behind you, it may be a distraction to your dogs.  

No Leap Frogging

If you practice leap frogging down the trail, then that's what your dogs will think passing is.  They will see it as a great game, in which you chase a team down, pass them, then slow down so they can pass you.   This is not a good habit to develop in your dogs, and not a way to make friends.  Leap frogging only heightens the risk of the dogs coming into contact with each other.  You don't want a team trained to leap frog if you need to pass a team with an aggressive dog in it, or a handler with offensive body odor.  You want to pass, and get out of there! 

Calmness Counts

Be calm. Or fake it.  Your dog will pick up on your feelings about the pass. If you are calm and confident, your dog will be too, and you will pass without any incident.   
If your dog isn't passing on skis, go back to your dryland work.   Look for opportunities to pass on your daily walk, and build up your confidence with your dog. 

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