Thursday, October 8, 2009

Follow Me!

A must have for control off leash!

What you Need:
med -> high level treats
20-50 ft long line unless in a fenced area
second or "ghost" handler if possible

To have the dog follow the handler and ignore the environment

*Note* The second handler is there to make sure that the dog remains safe, to tell the handler when to hide and when to reappear.

Begin with your pup by your side - position (sit, down, stand) is not important, the pup should be still. It is best if you wait for the pup to offer eye contact, but you may cue it. This provides the connection between you and your pup. Now you're ready to get going. Pick a point in front of you, cue your pup to "let's go" and begin walking. Here's the hard part! Don't beg, look at, or otherwise cue your pup. You may praise and treat him if he's by your side. Trust me you'll "feel" him next to you. Is he still with you? Yes! Great! Mark, reward, and change direction. Do this often to try to lose your pup.

Did you lose him? He not following you? Don't fret! Keep walking, fight the urge to beg, and find a place to hide. Your ghost handler will make sure puppy is safe. You may keep your head in sight, just keep quiet. Let your pup figure out that he lost you. Let him fret a bit. Did he finally notice you ditched him? Is he searching? Good! Now you may step out and call him. Praise that good puppy! He'd better keep an eye on you, you may just leave him! Sneaky human!

Begin the exercise again. As your dog becomes proficient you can make it harder by adding toys or strangers or other dogs.

*If you add dogs make sure the distraction dog does not reciprocate advances to play. This dog is for distraction only. Same goes for the humans.*

Take this show on road! The more places you practice the better.

This is a variation of a Suzanne Clothier leadership exercise game.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Upholding your end of the deal

When we train our dogs it's a partnership. You do the teaching and they do the learning, or vise versa. We are the good dog owners and go to class each week, practice our homework in the house when we have time, and magically expect our dogs to be letter perfect in the outside world. This is the biggest complaint I receive as an instructor, their dog won't listen in public. To which I usually respond have you practiced in public? We all know the answer to that 90% of the time is no. I was reminded of this very same thing this weekend.

Kayla and I have been trying for our CDX (Open Obedience title) for a better part of a year now. We finally got our title yesterday by the grace of God. I went into the ring expecting a mid 190 score, but walked out with 189. Needless to say a few things fell apart and other bits looked down right sloppy - so not our style. As I was driving home I began to think over why we showed like we did and realized I had not upheld my end of the deal. I had not been putting my time into training, nor had I put the routine together in about a month. I should be so lucky to have a dog that saved my ass. The one thing that looked good was the long sit - now we have been practicing that!! The voice of my instructor rings in my head - you get what you train for! Ain't that the truth!!!

The moral of this story: before you blame the dog, ask yourself if you've put in the work!