Foundation Sport package is up!

We finally got the 2-Minute Dog Training Foundation Sport package up on the webstore (here’s the link for anyone wishing to order:

http://dogagility.org/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=72&CFID=7319277&CFTOKEN=65273138

The format I decided upon was to set out each training protocol as a separate brochure. Now instructors may use the training themselves, teach from the brochures, copy the brochures to distribute to everyone in their class, OR copy the brochures and have them available to selectively provide homework assignments for students needing work on a specific foundation issue. I only ask that they not be copied and sold.

I am aware that the most popular brochures are going to be the weavepoles and contacts trainers, but it is my opinion that you can develop a stronger, more flexible relationship with your dog if you combine foundation training in housepet manners, obedience, and agility.

Every time I hear “my dog doesn’t like obedience so we just do agility” I’m tempted to say (heck, not just tempted, I usually DO say) “my dogs don’t know the difference between obedience and agility … it’s all about a conditioned behavior, put on cue, and rewarded consistently.”

I did a pet fair demo with Dash once and (though no one at the fair knew what they were seeing, they thought it was just a stupid pet trick) had him doing sets of 6 weaves, fetching his dumbell, and weaving back for me.

His rewards for dumbell work had been so high that he loved his dumbell and considered it a reward for the first set of weaves, then he got his treat for weaving back with the dumbell. I trained all my dogs to retrieve using Sue Sternberg’s Inducive Retrieval method, and it has served me very well.

Another stupid pet trick Dash does, and one with almost mind-blowing implications, is one in which I lay out all his retrieval items. The stack contains his dumbell, a squashed plastic bottle, a glove, a wallet, a bumper, a wooden spoon, and a fly swatter (I added this because he was afraid of fly swatters as a puppy, so I taught him to retrieve one).

I have Dash sit in heel, then send him for the dumbell. When he retreives that I tell him to fetch the bottle, then the glove, then the wallet, then the bumper, then the spoon, and finally the fly swatter.

Observers are impressed that Dash knows the names of these items. Then I explain what is actually more impressive — that Dash DOES NOT know the names of these items but that, instead, he has established a preference list which he adheres to nearly 100% of the time. So long as I call items out in order of his preference, he always chooses in the same order.

In my mind, “shopping” using a priority list is a MUCH neater trick than knowing the names of stuff. It shows me that the dog is thinking, choosing, considering options, and operating on a higher level than a standard conditioned response.

Still, it makes for a great “stupid pet trick” and always manages to amaze his audience. Dash is nine this year and remains the most biddable dog I’ve ever had. He’s afraid of nearly everything (the by-product of 3 months of idiotic, ham-handed, bumbling tuff-love from 8 weeks to 5 months, at the hands of a clod who used to do dog agility in northeastern Ohio) yet, with the proper rewards in place, tries to overcome his fears and be correct every time.

Bud and I were discussing our dogs, comparing their distance working capabilities, and came up with an interesting bit of doggie information on our pack. The best distance dogs we have are the two least confident dogs who, having constantly been encouraged and rewarded for obstacle focus and distance work, will perform obstacles perfectly and consistently when cued. Bogie and Dash both started as slow, cautious workers. Both were encouraged to perform individual obstacles for food.  Both dogs worry about being wrong and, in the wrong home, could have easily been shut down completely.

I’m starting the 2-Minute Dog Training Advanced Rally package next week. Hope all of you enjoy the Foundation Sport package !!

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