Friday, 23 November 2012

Agility Voice Article (September) - Learning with Lucy

Over the next few months I am going to be doing a series of garden exercises. Ways in which we can learn teach and proof our commands. I say learn, because as an instructor I have found it one of the most common issues in training. Handlers cross wiring commands, resulting in spins, early turns or ‘ignoring’ not understanding what you mean confusion when the handlers are getting frustrated the dog it getting even more wired up and then it some cases its followed up with a frustration nip off the dog.. I touched on this topic in the wait box of tricks article. How many people know what their command mean, just a short definition? Can you tell me what it means without having to pause and think about it for a second? If you can’t how is your dog meant to know it? After reading this now go find a pen and some paper, write down all the commands that you ‘think’ you dog should understand with a short clear definition. Re-read and do any commands and definitions sound exactly the same? Did you have to rethink what the command was?

Once you have set straight the definition and command write it down and copy it! Leave one in your car one near your training equipment at home and one in you hand and learn it.

So this month we are going to look at my word for

‘Straight line forward in the direction you’re (the dog) facing, when I say it’

That word for my dogs is ‘GO’

‘Go’ is a common word in agility for driving on and most (in the UK) use it, but do you have a definition of it and does you dog know it? Can your dog do it regardless of you being there and just on the verbal command?

I would say for my height and leg length I actually get a good way around the course, not being too far away from Ben however in the lower grades I could hardly ever get near him (depending on the course design) as most of the course was blasty. So my dogs need to understand verbal command. I need to know that they have a good understanding of the verbal command and that it’s rewarded appropriately so that they have a desire to perform the definition of the verbal on cue.

I don’t have a jump command if I say ‘GO’ it is to take whatever is in front of you and carry on in that direction, when I say GO. I shouldn’t have to keep recommending for every jump as they it doesn’t become a drive straight on definition  commanding 'Go' before/ after every jump makes 'GO' a jump que. If you feel you need to command you dog to jump then have a look at my May Blog which can be found on ‘Its been a clicking success with stig.’ This will give you some help on taking away the jump command and teaching the dog that it’s rewarding to take the jump you tell them to. However far you are away because they will get rewarded for it.

In the picture below I have set Ben up he is looking forward (I’m stood behind him, taking the picture!) from my definition of the ‘GO’ command Ben should take the 2 black and red jumps not take the one off to the left. If he took the straight on jump and then the jump to the left this would NOT be a ‘GO’ because I haven’t asked him to turn off the straight line he set off on. If, Ben maintains the straight line to the second jump I will reward him ( throw a toy in) I don’t wait for him to come back to me as I want him to understand and want to drive FAST away from me because he can still get an amazing reward thrown over.
If you’re slightly confused the picture below should help you.
Taking the same picture again. Now say ‘GO’ He should follow the Orange line and this is a straight line forward from where he is when I give him the verbal command of GO
Here are some simple exercises below for you to practice your ‘Go’ command.

Have Fun
Lucy Osborne