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Over the next 4 weeks, I am going to teach you my secrets, drills, and training methods to teach, improve, and proof your _________________.
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The principal features of this exercise are the dog’s correct response to the handler’s verbal commands and/or signals, and that the dog stays until the handler returns to heel position.
The Command Discrimination pattern could be the following: “Stand, Down, Sit”. The handler will stand their dog in heel position. Leave their dog and walk 15’ away. Then the handler will turn and give their dog a signal or verbal or both to “Down”. When instructed, the handler will turn 180 degrees, walk another 15’ away, then turn to face their dog and signal/verbal or both their dog “Sit”, which is the next positional change. The judge will then say “Back to your dog”. At this time, the handler may give a command and/or signal for their dog to stay. The handler now returns directly to their dog, walks around and in back of their dog and back into heel position. The dog must stay in position without additional commands or signals until the handler has returned to heel position and the exercise is finished.
List of skills that your dog needs:
- Down, sit, and stand, while remaining in place and focused on you.
- Stay while you leave, turn, and leave a second time.
- Finally, your dog must be able to stay in position, sit, down, or stand, as you return from 30 feet away, walk around your dog, and back into heel position.
While doing this exercise, I want my dog to respond quickly to my signals/verbals without any forward movement. Furthermore, my dog should remain in place without moving while I “leave, turn to signal, turn to leave, and then return to heel position. In addition, I expect my dog to stay in an “active” state. That is, he stays engaged, looking at me, and ready to quickly perform any command I may give.
What you will need:
• List of items needed for training
_________ Training Log
PDF Points to remember
Questions? Ask DebbyQ
Games – getting the most out of training
When leaving your dog on a stand, sit, or down, do a variety of games to teach your dog to stay in an “active” state. An “active” state is when your dog is on his toes and ready to perform a signal/command/release in a moment’s notice.
There are 4 ways I reward my dog while training.
- Go back – this is where I would go back and reward (treat or toy to play) my dog by either handing him a reward while in a stationary position OR releasing with a “Jump To Hand“.
- Throw back – anytime after I have leave my dog in a stationary position, I can throw a toy/treat back to my dog.
- Send back – this is when I pre-place a toy/treat behind my dog, and then send my dog back to it as I am leaving or after I have left my dog.
- Release forward – while my dog is on a stationary position, I release forward to a jump, toy or treat.
Training Secret: when training an exercise, such as the Change of Position, use one of the 4 ways to randomly reward your dog during your training session. For instance, you can throw a treat or toy to your dog after you turn to walk away, or after you have given a signal or command. Mixing up the ways you reward your dog will keep him interested and engaged. Anytime you are rewarding your dog, quickly deliver the toy or treat, and do not advertise getting it out of your pocket to throw to your dog.
Placement of reward is VERY important on this exercise. The more you mix up where and how you reward your dog, the more engaged and focused your dog will become.
Here are a few examples:
- Put your dog in a sit. Walk away a few feet and turn to face your dog. Give a signal or verbal for your dog to either down or stand. Now, throw a reward (treat or toy) to your dog and play.
- Place your dog in one of the three positions. Leave your dog a few feet and do a spin or twirl. After either throw a reward or add a change of position and then throw a reward.
- Have your dog on a stand. Walk away a few feet and turn to face your dog. Give your dog a signal or verbal to either down or sit. Turn and start walking away. As you walk away the second time, quickly turn back toward your dog and throw a reward (treat or toy) to your dog and play.
- Put your dog on a down. Walk away a few feet away, turn quickly and toss a treat or toy to your dog.
- Have your dog on a down. Walk away a few feet and turn to face your dog. Give your dog your signal or verbal for a sit or a stand. Turn and walk a few more feet away. Turn and give your dog another verbal or signal to down, stand, or sit. Now add a spin, twirl or wave. Throw a reward back to your dog.
- Video training some of the above ideas.
- Add games to your Change of Position training. Leave and throw a toy/treat back to your dog or turn and toss a treat/toy quickly.
- Do a position change and then a trick. Start close (2-5’) to your dog so he understands the new rules. Keep training interesting and fun.
- Did you have any problems?
- Was your dog staying in an “active” state while on his sit/down/stand?
- What do you see that can be improved?
When starting to Sequence this exercise, train two (2) skills together and then break and play or go back to your dog and reward him. Because there are different skill sequence possibilities in this exercise, pair as many combinations as you can in sets of two. Also, add a variety of ways to reward your dog so he will stay engaged with you, as well as rewarding your dog for staying in position.
- Put your dog in a sit. Walk away a few feet away, and turn to face your dog. Give a signal or verbal for your dog to down or stand. Praise and go to your dog and reward him before releasing.
- Put your dog on a stand. Walk away a few feet and turn to face your dog. Give your dog a signal or verbal to either down or sit. Toss a treat/toy to your dog.
- Put your dog on a down. Walk away a few feet and turn to face your dog. Give your dog a signal or verbal to either stand or sit. Praise and reward your dog.
- Put your dog on a down, sit, or stand. Walk away a few feet and turn to face your dog. Give your dog a signal or verbal for a different position. Turn and walk a few more feet away. Turn and give your dog another verbal or signal to down, stand, or sit. Toss a treat/toy to your dog.
- Add random tricks to the sequences. If your dog knows a variety of tricks, add a trick randomly to your training sessions. For example, ask your dog to down and then add a spin followed by a sit. NO, he can’t move forward. :>) If needed, add a ruler or barrier in front of your dog to help him learn not to move forward even with games. NOTE: start to teach this close up before adding distance.
- Think about, review, and post your visualization and criteria.
- Test to see if your dog has the skills needed for this exercise. That is, do each skill separately.
- Sequence two skills together at a time. Does your dog perform to your criteria?
- Add games and random releases to keep your dog engaged and in an “active” state.
- Post a video and note any problems you were experiencing.
The following are typical issues that could happen during training or while in the show ring. However, it is not a list of EVERYTHING that could happen. If there has been a situation that has happened to you when training or in the show ring, PLEASE post it in the FaceBook Group.
Going from the sit or down to the stand, your dog moves forward.
If you trained the kick back, and your dog is still moving forward, review the foundation steps of your training. Many times, we except less than our criteria or our criteria become “muddy” to our dog. A review of foundations will often find where our dog is confused and enable us to clean up issues and problem.
The second option is to place a small object, such as a ruler, in front of your dog. When training, start close to your dog. Ask your dog for his stand. If your dog travels past or steps on the ruler, say “Uh oh” or something similar to mark the incorrect response. Calmly go to your dog, and pick up the ruler. Then smack the ruler on the floor. I always accompany the smacking with a “oh you BAD stick”. Hahahhahaha. People will think you are nuts but most dogs do not want to get near that “bad stick” again. Remember, if your dog is sound sensitive or scared of a ruler/stick, not to smack it on the floor too loudly.
Going from the stand or sit to a down, your dog slightly creeps forward into the down position, and does not back into the down.
The best way to solve this issue is to teach your dog the Sphinx Down. This is where your dog keeps his front feet in place and folds back into a down. Your dog’s chest will then touch the floor first as he folds into the down. If you would lie to see how I train a Spinx Down, please go to the classes page and the section Building Blocks.
The second option is to place a small object, such as a ruler, in front of your dog. When training, start close to your dog. Ask your dog for his down. If he travels past or steps on the ruler, mark the incorrect response by saying something similar to “nope”, “oops”, “Uh oh”, etc. Calmly go to your dog, and pick up the ruler. Then smack the ruler on the floor. I accompany the smacking with a “oh you BAD stick”. Hahahhahaha. People think I am nuts but most dogs do not want to get near that “bad stick” again.
Your dog rolls onto his hip in the down at heel position (like a settle) and finds it hard to get back into a sit or stand.
Make sure your dog knows the difference between a “settle” and a “sphinx” down.
Also, when training a sphinx down, I will ask for a down and immediately release my dog up to a treat/toy. That way my dog has a tendency to stay up on his hips so he can get up quicker. Review the “Jump to Hand” release to see a great way to keep your dog energized and ready to bolt off a stationary position.
As you turn to leave your dog after the first change of position, your dog does not stay in position but changes position.
Review your stay work. Make sure your dog understands your criteria of not moving BEFORE increasing distance. Work on each positions separately using the slow reward and then proofing before starting to sequence skills.
Training Tip – Many problems can have a common issue. Placement of reward. It is very important when teaching the Changes of Position skills to deliver a reward where your dog “is”. When rewarding or building desire for the skill, I often toss a treat or toy to my dog and tell him to “get it”. That way he is rewarded where he is and in the position I want to reinforce.
- Video a training session at the level your dog is currently training.
- Review and post the video.
- Note any areas that need to be improved.
Only start proofing when your dog understands and is confident on a skill or sequence of skills. Always simplify by being close to your dog OR your dog further away from the proofing distractions.
- Have your dog watch as you prepare his dinner. Place his bowl on the counter, chair, or floor. The floor is the hardest. Tell him to sit/stand/down, step away a few feet, then give your stand/down/sit command or signal again. Was your dog successful? If not, move your dog further away from his dog bowl and try again.
- Practice the stand/sit/down on a surface with a slight incline. A handicap ramp or hill is an ideal surface to test your dog’s steadiness. When facing downhill, beware of forward movement from your dog as you ask your dog for the different positions. Use a ruler on the round as a reminder for your dog not to move forward.
- Have a leash or retractable leash on your dog. The retractable leash is harder. Leave your dog a few feet and turn and face him. Give a change of position command/signal while you apply light pressure on leash. Did you see your dog brace back against the pressure? Simplify by applying lighter pressure or staying even closer to your dog.
- Practice changes of position as you sit in a chair, on the stairs, or on the ground. Could your dog recognize your signals while you were sitting down? Simplify but keeping your location close, 2-4 feet, from your dog.
- Have your dog in a sit/down/stand. Walk away a few feet. Drop a toy or treat as you turn and face your dog. Once the toy is dropped, give your command/signal to change position. Was your dog successful or did your dog go after the toy/treat? Start by use a lower value toy/treat.
- Train where there are environmental distractions such as near a pond with birds or a playground with kids. Face your dog toward the distraction. Leave your dog and turn so your back is to the distraction. Give your signal/command. Did your dog do the signal/command or was the distraction too much for your dog? If the distraction was too much, move your dog further away from the distraction and try again.
Always start a NEW challenge closer to your dog. Challenges can be anything from a toy or treat placed or tossed on the ground, to a new person or a location you have never trained at before. Increase distance or difficulty only when your dog is confident and maintaining your criteria.
- Videotape a short training session of your dog doing the Change of Position Exercise with proofing and post it in the FB Group.
- Write a list of any problems you feel you have.
- Did you add surprise releases and games when your dog gave effort?
- Was your dog staying in an “active” state while on his sit/down/stand?
- What do you see that can be improved?