I’m sorry that I didn’t write anything yesterday. I spent the day driving home in rain and wind after a great herding session in the morning. Came home to snow and ice. I hope it’ll go away soon. I have posted an entry from yesterday now, it’s just a little video of Epic and his third talent (apart from agility and herding). Today, I thought I would share with you some important points that makes agility training much more fun and clear for the dog.
- Quick transitions. Make sure that it takes a minimum of time to get the dog set up to run a sequence. It’s worth training getting the dog off his toy and into position fast. Some people prefer to set the dog up with their hands when the dog is still on the toy. I like to se the dog swing into position at my side as soon as the toy is out of his mouth. Anyway, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds between the dog letting go of his toy and you leading out. If you take long, or if you have to nag the dog to get him into position, you will loose a lot of the great drive built up while tugging. This transition is excellent to train while warming up or on days like these when there is snow all over my agility field.
- Use “screw up cookies”. When ever there is a mistake on course and you want to start over, make sure that you keep your dog under control and set him up for success in the next repetition. You definitely don’t want your dog to rehearse flanking, blind crossing, taking tunnels on his own or other unwanted behaviors while you’re walking back, but this often happens if you’re not paying attention. The best way to avoid this is to let the dog hang off his toy while walking back to the start. You’ll have your dog under control while building value for interacting with you. If the mistake was made by the dog, make sure that you ask him for some behavior that he will be successful with before giving him the toy. It might be a hand touch, a sit or a down. If you made a mistake and the dog responding correctly (like missing a jump because of an early front cross) you should of course reward him right away.
- Reward when the dog gets it right! Unfortunately, a lot of dogs only get rewarded when things go wrong. If your dog makes a mistake, make sure to reward when he gets it right! Never ever just continue running the sequence. How will he know what you wanted him to do if you don’t give him that information when he gets it right. If you keep running, you risk something else going wrong on and the dog not getting rewarded at all. I often make sure to reward the dog with his toy in trials if there is something I need to do over again, I keep a small toy in my pocket for instances like that. Of course, don’t just reward the dog when he gets it right the second time. Note what your dog was failing on and be ready to reward him when he get’s that same thing right in your next training session.
I hope you don’t have snow like us, unless you like it – but I don’t get people who do. Have a great weekend!
Cecilia and Ninja playing