The Cobbler’s Kids

I’m working with my boy Kory now on a simple understanding of “Go On”. For awhile now I’ve been thinking through simple training protocols of four jumps to teach a variety of distance skills. I’ll try to unfold those as I introduce them to my boy.

Here’s the simple configuration… four jumps in a straight row. Note that I’ve only put 12′ between the hurdles. And frankly I’m only jumping my boy 12”. It’s not really about jumping at all.

The basic reward is a toss of the Frisbee. The one I use with Kory is a floppy canvas thing that is also suitable as a tug toy. I have kind of a two-part reward system. If he goes ahead to the end jump I’ll give a toss of the Frisbee as a reward, even if I have to help him a bit keeping going. However, if he puts his head down and zips through the four jumps I’ll not only throw the Frisbee for him, but give him a nice game of tug when he gets back with it.

I clearly did not start this training game with four jumps. I started with two, and then added three, and finally four. For each new escalation of the exercise I started by varying my forward position for the start, until I managed to stay behind altogether.

Right now I figure that Kory doesn’t have it in his bones yet. I’ll work with it about another week until it’s starts to click in his 11 month old brain.

This is a foundation exercise. I remind myself that even after I truly believe that he’s “got it”… I’ll have to include practice with this skill on a regular basis throughout his working career to keep it fresh and solid.

A Negative-Performance Marker?

That got me thinking… you know I don’t use a “negative-performance marker”. With me it’s completely neutral. I don’t give praise, and I certainly don’t give reward. But I just don’t have a “No” word for my boy (or any of my dogs, for that matter”. I’m thinking that in my system I want my dogs gamely seeking my affirmation and reward; and not fretting a negative response from me.

So, do you use a negative-performance marker? And, as Dr. Phil might say… how’s that working for ya?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Go the Distance ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Workbook – Jan 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store:


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