This month’s column will allow us to peek in on the Open and Utility classes of some of NADOI’s best instructors, and steal some great training tips and proofing exercises for those classes. As the contributors readily noted when submitting these to NADOI Notes, many tips are old, some are new, some are “lifted” from other instructors, and one, I was told, just popped into the instructor’s brain yesterday. Enjoy all of them!
From Sue Cone of New Jersey: “Teach your dog to stick jump. When he is proficient, just gradually put the broad jump together under the stick. By using this method, you never recall your dog over the jump, you are always at the side, and the turn towards you comes built in. Once your dog really knows the broad jump, send him from heel position (the position where you would normally tell your dog to stay and leave him). He will understand very quickly, and just run out and take the jump. Use this method to really motivate fast turns back to you.” Sue also adds some proofing tips. “Can your dog do the broad jump if you are standing 20 feet to the side? How about if you are on the other side? What if you remove one or two of the middle boards?”
Charlotte Peltz, a member from sunny Mexico, adds this about the broad jump: “To avoid lack of respect for the broad jump, I often put the bar jump over it. That encourages the dog to get enough loft that he doesn’t even consider stepping on it. The bar is lowered gradually, then placed on the ground, and finally disappears altogether. The bar can be used as a rod extending out from the end of the last broad jump board to encourage the dog to jump straight and go around it rather than jumping it at an angle.”
Charlotte also submitted this helpful tip on teaching the drop: “Before I teach a moving drop, I work on teaching a fold drop so that the dog doesn’t sit and then down. Then I work on getting the dog to down from various distances anytime I ask for it. Sometimes that involves having the dog behind a baby gate or tethered to get a down without any forward motion. The handler gradually increases the distance from the dog. I also encourage working on verbal downs as well as hand signals so that either may be used depending on the situations that handlers may encounter. For example, a really keen dog that is ready to charge at the first sound from the handler may do better with a hand signal while the dog that is distracted at a show may do much better with the sound of its name followed by the cue.”
Texas member Norma Rust also had some great tips for teaching the drop:
“First– teach the fold back drop with food. Second–while heeling, slide your left hand down the lead and take the dog down quickly when you say drop. Third– while heeling, turn in front of the dog and take the dog down quickly. Fourth– while heeling, turn in front and give the drop signal and see that the dog goes down quickly. Fifth– play drop with the dog on the end of the leash until he can hit the bricks quickly. Sixth– while heeling, reverse and call and drop the dog while coming to you. Seventh– while heeling, reverse and call and drop the dog while you keep moving and the dog still drops. Eighth– teach the signal exercise so that the dog understands drop from greater distances. Ninth–set the dog up on a short recall and after calling, give the drop command and signal simultaneously while moving toward the dog. This is to prevent moving toward you after the signal/command. Use a flexi to keep control.” Norma notes that you shouldn’t move ahead to each step until you have perfected the one above.
Margie English of New York shares her retrieving proofs for Open. She reminds us that first the dog must be able to stay at heel while the dumbbell is thrown, and retrieve it on command.
“Game One—throw the dumbbell and heel the dog in a small circle to the left. Sit the dog. Send the dog. If the dog can’t do this, teach him how. Game two–walk out and place the dumbbell. Return to the dog and heel him in a small circle to the left. Send the dog. If the dog can’t do this, teach him how. Game three–tell the dog to stay. Walk out 15 feet and place the dumbbell on the floor. Continue walking another 15 feet away from the dog. Face the dog as if it were a recall. Tell the dog to fetch the dumbbell. If he can’t do it, teach him how. Game four—place the dumbbell on the floor 4 feet behind the dog. Walk away from the dog 40 feet. Face the dog as if it were a recall. Tell the dog to fetch the dumbbell. If he can’t do it, teach him how.”
Margie adds that she doesn’t tell her students how to teach their dogs to do these unless they are totally clueless. She’d rather they figure it out for themselves.
And finally, Linda Lundgren from Texas shares some super Utility Class tips. Linda says that she always asks her students to train for the “worst case” scenario for each exercise, because then anything that really happens will be easier!
“Directed Retrieve—instead of white gloves, use dark brown gloves inside on mats and green gloves on grass. It makes the dog work on taking the mark rather than visually sighting the glove. Tell students that they need to practice turning and stopping at glove 1 but sending to glove 2 or 3. Same for the other turns. Until a dog can turn to glove 1 and take the mark for 3, I figure he isn’t ready for the ring. For the dog that insists on taking the wrong glove, stick a brick inside it! Another great proof is to have handlers heel in a circle, drop their gloves on your command, and keep heeling. When you tell them to stop, one by one they have to spot their own glove and send their dog to retrieve it. This can also be done Canadian style with a single handler. Just call a heeling pattern, drop the glove on command, and after a halt send the dog for it. Dark gloves make this a lot more challenging!”
“Directed Jumping—train the dog with a jump command that does NOT include his name. That way, if you need to get his attention in the ring, you can fall back on using his name with the command. Better yet, train the jump with a signal only, because it makes for a lot less anticipation, and also leaves you with a perfectly legal second (to the dog) command.”
“Signals of all types—have all your new students get down on their hands and knees, with their heads at the same level of their dogs’ heads. Handlers of toys may have to lay flat on the floor! Then have another student demonstrate signals to the newbies, so that they get a real feel for what the dogs do or don’t see.”
Thanks Sue, Charlotte, Norma, Margie, and Linda for these fun and practical ideas. We hope all of you have a great time trying them out!
©2002 Helen Cariotis