2-minute dog trainer – teaching “go on”

Tempest (aka “T”) is now 9-1/2 months old, and incredibly full of himself when on the agility floor.

In most situations he’s a lovely boy. He hasn’t had an accident in the house in weeks, has learned how to tell me he needs to go outside, and has learned how to “hold it” for 15-30 minutes.

He torments Bud’s Kory, herding and stalking him in the yard. They play nicely together most of the time, though, and are good brothers to each other.

Between my job (Aug.13-Dec.13) and our increased workload with TDAA, and the holidays, my training time has been limited.

Bud and I have committed to setting aside 30-45 minutes each day to train our youngsters.

A few days ago Tempest attended our advanced Thursday night class. He chilled nicely in his ex-pen and got to do a little bit of work when I felt it wouldn’t interrupt class.

Bud had students working on a 8-or-9-obstacle sequence that included a right-turning tunnel under the dogwalk, with a sharp 180-degree turn to the right to run up onto the dogwalk itself. The entrance of the tunnel stuck out beside the dogwalk about 4 feet, blocking my path alongside my pup.

A week ago I tried this 2-obstacle sequence and Tempest kept hopping off the dogwalk onto the top of the tunnel. I was stuck between the entrance and exit of the tunnel, and my movement down the dogwalk required that I dodge out to get around the tunnel. My running around the tunnel brought Tempest off the dogwalk.

We did a couple of conditioning exercises to assist him in fixing this little sequence.  First I worked him on entering and performing a tunnel that turns away from my position. (Ex: Tunnel turns right, “T” is on my right)

It took him several tries to get that he was supposed to perform the tunnel going away from me. The first few tries he’d pop into the tunnel, whirl around, and stare at me from the entrance.

Bud often refers to this as a novice-dog-error, that the dog wants to go the same direction as the handler and, as soon as they notice the tunnel turning away, the pup turns back and comes back out of the tunnel entrance.

When I had Tempest performing the tunnel turning away with good consistency, I put him into the tunnel and headed down alongside the dogwalk.

When I was able to get him into the tunnel and get ahead of him down the dogwalk, he never again hopped off the dogwalk onto the tunnel.

We practice this 2-obstacle sequence again Thursday night. The class was doing a longer sequence, but all I wanted to do was the tunnel-dogwalk bit.

Tempest entered the tunnel boldly, turning away from me, I was able to take off down the side of the dogwalk, he exited the tunnel, turning sharply up onto the dogwalk, and performed it perfectly, assuming his 2-o-2-o position on the downside (even with a tunnel sitting 10 feet ahead of him).

I was training with string cheese, rather than with his toy, so he could maintain focus a bit better.

I went back to my seat with Tempest and awaited my next turn. The second time I had a cloth tug toy instead of string cheese, and this situation generally puts his enthusiasm over the top.

Instead of getting out of control, however, Tempest did the two obstacles perfectly, held his 2-o-2-o, and jumped to tug with me when I said “okay.”

I felt hopeful for us. <g>

Last night Bud acted as bait-meister so I could work on “Go On!”

We set up 3 jumps in a row and I gradually conditioned “T” to do all three jumps.

First I led out to the landing side of jump 2, called him over 1 and 2, then sent on to 3. Then I led out to beside jump 2, called him over 1, directed him to 2, and sent him over 3.

Soon I was able to lead out just past jump 1, sending him over jumps 2 and 3. The final step was to stay on the take-off side of jump 1, sending over jumps 1, 2, and 3.

Bud would toss little bits of string cheese onto the black rubber-matted floor about 6 feet beyond the landing side of jump 3.

Tempest quickly got the idea that there were treats to be had for doing all three jumps.

When he was consistently working straight over 3 jumps away from me, Bud stopped dropping the treat and — instead — I praised and rushed up to treat “T” from my hand.

Gradually Bud moved off to the side and out of the picture for “T”.

Tempest continued to do all three jumps, turning back to me after jump 3 and rushing to greet me and his treat.

It took about 15 minutes total. I think I can commit to that … <g>

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