Susanne Howarth

I really resonate with Stefanie’s statement, “If folks are wanting to trial, they need to know what to expect from their canine teammate both on and off leash.” My rule of thumb is to work off leash any time I’m given the choice, especially if it’s a tiny furniture-filled classroom! My girls are tiny enough to go under desks and chairs a lot more readily off leash than on, which is a key component in my usual choice.

Interestingly enough, at Biscuit’s first NW3 trial, we had an on or off choice for our interior search, but it was a large and very open warehouse space, and I was afraid she wouldn’t cover the area quickly enough if I let her off leash. Whether that was true or not I don’t know, but in hindsight, having missed two of the three hides in the first two search areas (in the large open area), I’m not sure I made the right choice!

And another factor in this decision is learning how to move your dog without having the leash on. I really enjoy seeing how subtle body changes on my part can influence where my girls are working.