Dog Training 101 ~ part 2

I was tickled to see that several of the seminar participants for my up & coming at In Contact had a training evening for the Back Pass. I received an email with .MOV (movie) files of these students teaching their dogs this skill. I don’t really have permission to publish them in my blog. But, a couple observations:

  • Reward the dog immediately as he comes around
  • Begin fading the hand and arm signal, reducing it to a verbal command. That is not to say that you won’t use the hand and arm signal; but you want the verbal to entice the dog immediately into handler focus.

I want to share a couple of my runs in the NDAL 50×50 Premier league in August. Mostly I want to demonstrate how often I might incorporate the back pass into a handling strategy, especially to solve “international” agility challenges.

This is Kory, who finished the course with zero faults in 42.38 seconds:

And Katniss, who finished the course with zero faults in 47.26 seconds:

Progressive Sending

New homework. One of the most important skills in agility is the ability to send the dog forward. This is lesson #1.

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Fundamental to any progressive sending exercise is that a) the dog is sent to the performance, and not dragged, b) the handler should send from a progressively greater distance; and c) each send should be slightly farther than the last (it can’t be a progressive exercise without progression).

When we engage in such training we are in “dog trainer mode”. That means the handler/trainer should be equipped with a good marker for performance (a clicker should do nicely, however a good verbal marker is just hunky dory); and a reward for the dog, whether that be a food treat or a game with a toy.

The devil is in the details.

  • A distance send really has nothing to do with standing still. Indeed, slamming on the brakes or slowing dramatically are apt to draw the dog back into handler focus and away from the target obstacle.
  • Flapping one’s arm when sending is a small detail that is apt to draw the dog back into handler focus, and away from the target obstacle.
  • The handler should give the target obstacle all of his focus when sending the dog. That means the handler looks at it, points at it, and moves towards it. Note that the pointing is more significant by the handler’s feet… than the arm and hands. The dog pays close attention to the direction the handler’s feet are facing/pointing.

Make your sends from as far away as you are comfortable. Progress only modestly to assure that the dog is able to succeed. Be mindful that failing to mark the performance or being late in rewarding the dog for the performance will confuse your dogs’ understanding of the object lesson.

 “To understanding the importance of timing of the reward all you have to do is count: one-thousand one, one-thousand too … late!”.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

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