Sharing knowledge of your dog with the Lure Operator!
This one is rather important to me (and to you as well!) as it helps me help you and your dog achieve better times!
After you and your dog have gained some experience and knowledge of your dog’s running, share what you know of them with the Lure Operator! You can either call it out to the Lure Operator directly if close enough, or ask the Hunt Master to relay it to the Lure Operator when you bring your dog to the line. Tell them if you know your dog likes the Lure close, or far out in front.
There is a common misunderstanding that running the Lure “faster” will cause the dog to run faster. (It’s actually the other way around in that a fast dog will lead to the Lure going faster...) In reality, running the Lure too fast often discourages the dog and may cause it to slow down if that’s not actually what the dog wants. However, if the Lure is kept at a distance the dog desires, that may result in a great run and time! Different breeds and individual dogs within breeds may like it close or far, during the entire run. Others respond well to the bag getting farther way as the run progresses, as it encourages them to try harder, while still others respond better when they feel like they’re gaining on the Lure. Then, there are those that like it when the Lure runs away and gets closer randomly... While many specific breeds have obvious tendencies (Herders only wanting to chase and not catch, Sighthounds preferring a greater distance...), within each breed there is great variation. While most sighthounds may prefer the Lure to be kept relatively far in front, it’s up the LO to observe each dog while running and gauge if the dog is losing interest if too far out, or breaking down to “take the prey”, If too close. With only 100 yards on a Fast CAT course, there isn’t much time to figure all that out in a single run, so anything you can share with your LO may help get you a faster time! (Just keep in mind that the LO is running dog after dog and may only have a few seconds to hear your request and then must remember which dog the request was for. Be brief and be specific!)
A comment that will typically elicit a chuckle and/or eye-roll in the Lure Tent is “Fast dog, just hold down the button!” I’ve done that at a fun-run once, after a handler rather rudely insisted I “just do as asked”, after I asked them to clarify if the dog had a preference for Lure positioning, as opposed to just running it “faster”. They had previously asked that I “hold down the button” and “run it faster” even though I previously observed their dog losing interest due to the bag getting too far out. The Lure crossed the finish line in about 3 seconds. Their “fast dog” did not. It wasn’t really all that fast compared to most sighthounds... or Lure Machines...