“Oh well, just another article on the go-out”, you might be saying to yourself as you start reading. Well, maybe so, but keep reading; you may find it interesting. This method of teaching the go-out is set up to take 11 days, but can be done in a week if your training sessions are scheduled properly.
The exercise is broken down into two parts, the turn and sit and leaving the handler. The turn and sit should be mastered at a distance of 50 feet before starting on having the dog go away from the handler. What we are after is a quick sit with no creeping. To do this we reward the dog for a quick sit and go behind him to praise. To begin, stand your dog and take one step directly behind him. Call his name as he turns to face you and tell him to sit. As he sits, praise him and possibly give him a food reward. Repeat two more times and then double your distance to two paces. Repeat 3 more sits and double your distance again to four paces. Continue until your dog will turn and sit at 50 feet. If at any time he begins to creep, reduce your distance or take a step or two towards your dog as you give the command and signal to sit. Remember to reward the performance you want. If you reward sloppy work, this is how he will work.
When your dog is reliable on the turn and sit, you can begin the go-out. We like to use a ring set up with mats and jumps so that the dog has a guide to help encourage straight go-outs. However, a sidewalk, driveway or yard will do fine. We will be using paper and food as targets and rewards. Initially, both are left so that the dog can see what to go to. Then only food is left on the mat. Gradually no food is left on the mat, but the dog is rewarded with food as you go to him to praise. Finally food is given in an irregular pattern, then only praise.
To begin, take your dog to one of the mats and let him watch as you put down the paper and food. If he tries to get the food, let him; don’t correct since this is what you want him to do anyway. A correction for this might reduce his eagerness to go after it. If he does get it, simply put down some more and take him to the other end of the mat, turn and immediately send him. As he races down the mat walk down behind him until you are about half-way there, after he has his tidbit call his name and command to sit. Then go to him and praise. Repeat the same procedure at the other end. By working the dog in both directions you will save both you and your dog needless steps. Another step saver is once you don’t need paper, as you send your dog and he’s on his way, drop some food behind you. After going to him and praising, send him in the other direction. This also helps to break your dog from going only if he sees you go out there and put something down.
Our schedule calls for nine go-outs per day broken into three sets. These should be done rapidly, keeping the dog’s spirits high.
©1982 W.H. Morrison, III