non dog-side arm, eg. off arm, eg. collection arm, eg. I don’t know what it’s called

Apologies for that last post. Penny made me do it. Here’s an actual, real post.

I’ve discovered something about my dog!

Yep, pretty exciting.

When I take her outside in the morning at the moment she gets all razzed up so I thought I’d do some really simple handling-on-the-flat stuff as a way to get some of her energy out in a low-stress, recovering-from-surgery kind of way.

And I found that she has no idea that the non-dog-side-arm means “come over here”. Instead, she ignores it completely. eg. if I stand near my fancy new wings and say “ok!” and give her my off-arm, turning into her, everything, she’ll go out around the wing and do it that way. I thought off-side arms intuitively meant “come here”, but it doesn’t seem to be a strong command for her! I know I’ve done it before for a serpentine when she’s coming out of the tunnel and I want her to take the inside of the first bar rather than the outside, and that seemed to work, but she really found this most simple of exercises challenging!

See, this would mean “go out over there and do that bar”, or in a 180, it wouldn’t mean “do a threadle” it would mean “go to the backside of that bar”.


I’m wondering how I’ve accidentally trained this along the way. Is it my cik/cap cues which I give VERY early with an off-side arm, signalling a wrap, but sending her out to do it? (eg. ignore my arm, use it as a pre-cue only? and therefore in future situations: this is a pre-cue to come in, after you do that obstacle).


But I guess there is other times you use the off-side arm, like this:

As a kind of… turn away… signal


Ok here’s another example. Dog comes out of the tunnel, off-side arm, dog comes in, does the bar from the inside. Lu? She’d be wanting to go to the outside of that bar… Probably.



So, my agility-minded friends. Thoughts? Like I said, I’ve been doing plenty on the flat and with those wings around so she can see that if there’s equipment around it doesn’t automatically mean ‘go do it’. It’s kind of ‘call to hand’ but also kind of not, since that can be ‘dog side’ hand too, and mean something different. When we’ve been practicing, I’m rewarding every try, even if she does the back of the bar, and I’m jackpotting the ones where she does it right. I feel like at the moment, Lu doesn’t trust my handling and therefore she’s not at fault for doing what she thinks is right! Because that’s probably how it’s worked so far and she’s just doing it how she knows to do it! I think this is good for her. I think I haven’t done this enough, but I also think we need to get some kind of understanding between us – if I do this, I want you to do this. Because she can sequence obstacles just fine, but I don’t think it’s necessarily because she’s paying much attention to my handling, at all. I think it’s more because a) she takes obstacles that are obvious and in front of her (this isn’t a bad thing!) and b) most of our sequences have been a mix of straight lines and cik/cap, both of which are very easy for her to read. As soon as I try something else (forced front cross, threadle, come in to me before you to that obstacle that I want you to do), she makes it up as she goes along. So, I need to build up her understanding of my handling by making my handling clearer and more consistent, and build up her trust that she’s not wrong, I’m not going to lead her astray, and if I do, it’s totally my fault.


Does this make sense? This off-arm thing?


Also, I found this really cool looking dog on PetRescue, and sent an inquiry through about him. I’m still in 2 minds – I think a 2nd agility dog right now would be really good for Lu because she’d have more breaks and would get revved up by her ‘friend’ getting to play, she’d also have an actual playmate (Mal doesn’t count!!) and it would take the pressure off her somewhat. Maybe it will mean that in 2-3 years we have 4 dogs for a while as Mal gets older and can’t come on adventures, and we have puppies from Lu (if that ends up happening and if we end up keeping one)… But as I’ve found from this week, so much can change in a week, a month, a year – who knows what will be happening in 2-3 years. I loved what they said about this dog, that he loves to know he’s pleased you- this is something I don’t have with Lu (apparently a very typical Aussie girl thing) but that I think would be really great in an agility dog… Plus, as a greyhound x heeler, it’d be that mix of speed and smarts that I’m looking for.

And I keep looking at this little guy because he’s so darn cute, but doesn’t sound like as much of an agility prospect (but he’s been on PetRescue for a while and every time he gets moved to the top of the list I look at him and think he’s got such a cute face.)



18 thoughts on “non dog-side arm, eg. off arm, eg. collection arm, eg. I don’t know what it’s called

  1. leopuppy04 says:

    Ok – I’m going to start by saying I have no idea what your handling system is or even what ST’s complete handling system is (as I tend to just steal her training methods and stick to my GD/SG training techniques)… But from the ST photo – for me the off arm means come in to me so I’m not sure if that is what it is supposed to mean for Lu or not… So I could be on a completely different playing field!

    For my training I’ve found Tahli’s off arm has gone by the way side – in fact we have a lot of small little things to work on here. My first mistake – I need to make sure my body is saying what I want it to (which it is not) and isn’t saying ‘arms 1/2 telling you, but body really telling you to keep going’…. So we’ve had to work a bit on that. Secondly – I think we often forget to reward the off arm (regardless of how it is taught or what it means) and can loose value too? So are there any simpler, basic exercises you can ‘test’ Lu with to see where the gap is in her understanding? Why do I ask – mainly because I never asked that question of Tahli with her weaves and I have had to play a fun game of had them, no we don’t, HAVE them, no we don’t until finally I found where the issues were and now we are re-training (again). But… I am confident that this time we will have it right! Part of the reason why I have an ‘almost-masters’ jumping dog who has barely set foot in a novice agility ring :O

    As for the pup what a cutie! I got really excited when you first mentioned that you were looking for maybe, another dog. I think it’s a great idea and like you say – you don’t know what can happen in a year/ month/ 10 years. I was never meant to keep Koda, and Tahli was never meant to come, but I am SO glad that they did. I love training multiple dogs because the things that I thought I hated in Kinta, I actually find reason to appreciate and the things that I love in Tahli I can strive to achieve in the others. It’s a constant challenge and like you say – it can take the pressure off the one-dog-training-syndrome (Leo was SO glad that it happened… well… maybe not so much now that he is semi-retired!). I admit, I’m very time poor and I don’t get through 1/2 as much training as I would like, but I would still choose to do the same again if I had the chance :). Not saying this pup is the one, but I am saying that I think it’s a good idea to consider it, as well as considering an ‘older’ dog as this will not draw away from your Lu-goals of her agility and such 🙂

    • Em says:

      Amanda, thanks for your huge reply 😀
      Yes, dog-side arm should mean “come in here” unless it’s pushed out, which would mean “now go out there” (eg. in a one-armed threadle situation or like the picture of Jaakko). I think the most basic test was setting her up facing the wing on the side and calling her to me – she’d rather go out and around the wing than come in between me and the wing. I don’t know if that description makes sense. That being said, I did it again just before and BAM – straight in to me, and when I cued a push, she pushed. Ha! So it seems like I’ll keep doing this and build that as a strong cue.

      And that’s really great what you’ve said about training multiple dogs. Mal’s lost his ‘spark’ for agility lately so I’m not even training him (not sure if he’s sore or what’s going on) which means Lu isn’t getting as many breaks as I’d like, and when she does, they’re only for a few minutes while I get the camera ready or something.
      I was actually thinking of talking to you about your pups, but I don’t think I’m ready for another baby just yet (and they’re probably all spoken for anyway!) … I think doing the very basics of agility with a dog will be enough without having to do the basics of teething and housetraining and all that. 😉
      We’ll see what happens!

  2. Sorry I get a bit confused in text descriptions… I need visuals 🙂 Regarding Jaako’s photo I would say his near-dog arm is more prominent because it is extended, while offside arm is kept quiet at his side, no?
    I think the main thing is that our dogs (the ST AF-trained dogs) need more exposure to different handling moves. I can see how offside arm could be developing a new meaning when you send to cik/cap. Silvia told me to use it only from close and to send with dog-side arm when sending from a distance, so that’s what I have been doing. Video at 0:32 : I think execution is hugely important here (+ dog experiencing different handling so that they know you’re capable of more than straight lines and cik&cap). I have been playing with stuff in my living room and Java was throughly confused at first, so I put her in a down-stay and worked Ruby… then worked Java… the lights turned on and she does much better now. Threadles are difficult to do with just the offside arm I found because after all the ST work they look like I want to send her to a wrap from the side of the jump. I think we need a kick-butt call to hand which will override that visual (and probably my body is not yet as helpful as it could be).

    • Em says:

      Interesting what you say about cik/cap… watching some foundations DVD now maybe what I thought was a send was done much closer to the wrap, so that could be something to fix up with Lu for sure. Which is a little frustrating because Silvia’s seen me doing those extension collection exercises and maybe could have mentioned not to use off-side arm so soon/much? Cos I really think Lu has learned to tune it out, so instead of it saying “come here now!” it means: “ignore me! Go out there and wrap!” which is now causing issues.
      I definitely think I need to work on call to hand, and I reckon this handling on the flat will help, too. And when I get my OMD DVD I’ll see how else I can improve things. 🙂 So, from now on! Sends to a wrap with dog-side arm, close wraps with off-arm!

      • Em says:

        I have the map of that course she’s running in the video so when Lu’s better I might practise that tunnel-jump bit some. 🙂 Though, there’s like, 5 other ways you could handle it that would make as much sense, but we need to work on that way!

      • I think I specifically asked her about when she used dog-side arm and when she used offside arm. I think Lu will work it out soon anyway once you start using it just for close wraps and expose her to more handling stuff.

        Yes, working on flat! After our agility break I will definitely run some sequences without bars. Janita once mentioned that she trains handling separately (no height) and jumping separately (no distracting handling). I believe Silvia does the same, she just doesn’t call it that way. It happens because she runs complex sequences with puppies even before she adds any height.

      • Oh and I think Vanya is just too cute! I would be cautious about making conclusions from descriptions, though. I once took home a 2,5 yo greyhound/BC mix that looked like that greyhound/red heeler mix, but in black and white. He needed insane amounts of exercise (he should have been a sleddog!) and had severe separation anxiety. As for desire to please… way more greyhound than BC in him. Lots of whippet people will tell you that whippets have desire to please, but that is not the same kind of desire to please that a herding breed would have. For some it’s “I’m so happy that you’re happy!”, but they’re not going to bend over backwards to make you happy, for others it’s “oh gosh, I didn’t mean to make you upset, I can’t bear to see you upset”. But generally you don’t get “oh I can’t wait for us to do something together” kind of desire to please out of the box. You need to train for it, so this is not the kind of desire to please that a volunteer in shelter would see.

      • Em says:

        Cool, glad I asked here then! That makes sense. 😀

        And sequences without bars sounds like a cool idea too, and bring back bars when she’s confident with the handling. (and maybe having done some gridwork and other jumps stuff in the meantime will make a more ‘complete picture’).

        And cool about the dog too, I guess if they contact me and I go meet him, we’ll see what he’s like. I think he’s in foster care at the moment so maybe they have a better idea about him than a shelter person would see, but I think with any dog you probably have to build that relationship to play and work together (though maybe BCs come with it inbuilt, I guess if you didn’t nurture it, they’d find their own way of working 😉 )

      • Oh yeah I suspect a foster family would know more about a dog than a shelter and my intention wasn’t to dissuade you from checking the dog out, quite the opposite – I was trying to say it’s hard to rely on other people’s opinion with this. Please keep us posted if you do decide to check him out 🙂

  3. Hi Em – given your interest in OMD some thoughts or things you mind find of interest (and I am no expert so these are things are just what I am learning too).
    – of your body cues the arms/hands are one of the last things that your dog pays attention to (only voice is after it I think) so consider what your movement, chest-shoulder, feet and eyeline are doing to cue. A really simple way to try this is to put Lu in a stay and go 10m or so ahead facing forward/away from her. Have food in both hands down and hold both arms still. Release Lu and as she is running towards you switch the shoulder you are looking over. Watch as she switches which side she runs to. She should run to the side your eyeline and shoulder are pointing regardless of where the hand with the food is (it works for Bodhi who is ridiculously food motivated).
    – a lot of OMD stuff uses closed hand vs open hand/pointing to call the dog in close… Think I have some good (treat) in my hand and come to me. So maybe just some simple flat work with high reward for closed hand. You will need that for things like the forced front cross and reverse spin so worth getting her into the idea now.
    Hope this helps.

    • Em says:

      I’ve noticed the closed hand but didn’t know why. I think when I was doing it on the flat I was being quite careful of what the rest of my body was saying but maybe it wasn’t quite right. But the way she did it was like, ‘I’m not sure what you want so ill do the wing from this side’. Now she’s getting the idea, she’s coming in much more confidently. Interestingly it was the FFC that got me started thinking about it as she’d do the bar rather than come to the side I was showing. What I think has been awesome is that after a short session or two, that she’s getting it, like rather than a ‘new’ thing, she’s just going: ‘oh, you mean like this!? Well that’s easy!’
      I think what you’re suggesting with the treat is more or less what I’ve been doing so sounds like I’ll continue on 🙂 it’s actually really nice to just be able to muck around with her right now- no pressure, just releasing a bit of energy on a gentle kind of way, if she does it, great, if she doesn’t, oh well! Bit of a change for us!

      • We are all in the same boat with this OMD stuff arm. Nikki in the YouTube clip is just learning from the DVD and with a bunch of others here in Sydney who are watching the DVD, runs from Europe and comments on the Facebook page they created from Janita. What we have noticed with a group of us playing with this new stuff, is that just as you said, after a couple of goes the dogs just get it and it just feels easy once they do (but it does seem to happen bloody quickly and if it doesn’t it is because our cues as the handler are off – usually mistimed in my case with the FFC).
        Yeah closed hand = come in. Flat hand/scoop as Jakko does it = go out.
        It is lots of fun to play with, learn some new stuff (albeit we are pretty new anyway so most things are new). I love the idea of cue then get out of there to give the dog clean lines and instead focus on giving them ample indication of the next obstacle to let the dog get their line right (made the world of difference for the bar dropping). I don’t know if it was through OMD or somewhere else but it was something along the lines of a dog has never not landed. You don’t need to watch them land. They will. Once they have committed the job of the handler is to cue the next commitment point.

      • Em says:

        I just love Nikki’s handling, she really looks so smooth and confident. You guys are lucky there’s a group of you up there to train together. I think Emi who posts on the FB group sometimes is doing it and she’s in Melbourne so I might be able to do some stuff with her sometimes.
        I know Silvia has said something similar about them never not landing, but I do love how OMD seems to focus on their lines and their take-off point especially. 🙂

  4. Put a post on the FB page asking if anyone in Melb keen to get together. There are at least 4 groups up here in Sydney (just that I know of so probably more) with a few people crossing over so knowledge is shared but size isn’t unmanageable. Here is a link to some stuff we did today ( Just excuse the dropped bars…. That is my nemesis!!!

    • Em says:

      Looks great. 🙂 I really do like the ‘moves’ and the smoothness of OMD. And again, how intuitive it seems to be. I did some move with Lu just through barless wing-jumps this morning, kind of like a turn-away from me but now a backlap I don’t think… and she just.. did it! It was cool. I was impressed with her. Yeah I’ll definitely ask on there, I know for sure Emi is but haven’t seen anyone else.
      I should probably get around to booking accommodation up there, hey? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s