Table “Down”

We continue to record Cedar’s ongoing foundation training. She has just turned 6 months old. I’m happy to report that she weighs 18 lbs and measures 15-1/2″. That’s a perfect small-dog size for play with any agility organization (including the TDAA).

Cedar is a dog who has never had a meal in this house without “working” for it. I’m sorry that we haven’t captured every grueling moment of the training. It’s hard for any person with novice dog training skills to understand the meticulous detail of training; which is a matter of vision, objective, and patience.

We’ve dragged the agility table into the basement and this morning began the foundation for Table Down. The objective is to be able to send her to a table where she will promptly assume a down position.

Here’s the YouTube: http://youtu.be/1jrWU1T9s0s

This is a method I documented some 15 years ago in the pages of The Just For Fun Agility Notebook (also in the book I co-authored with Ruth Van Keuren, The Jr. Handler’s Training Guide).

When working with a dog I rely quite a bit on free-shaping. This means I am not much of a fan of luring or targeting. And yet this exercise has a bit of a lure in it. Once the dog is on the table I’ll give the verbal command “Lie Down!” and drop my fist to the table. My fist will have a bit of kibble in it. And as all dogs have x-ray vision, she’ll be studying my hand, trying to figure out what it takes for me to open it, and give her the treat. Ultimately the dog will belly down to study the problem… whereupon she has met my criterion and will get the treat.

You’ll note in the recording that in several reps she figures out faster and faster what she needs to do to get me to open my hand and give up the reward.

I’ll share the progression of this training method as we go along.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

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