Obedience Challenges

I know that a lot of people that read this blog are interested in how to use clicker training for obedience. I will try to write about how to train different exercises and how to problem solve, but I would love to get some input from you. First of all – I need to know if you’re interested in knowing more about clicker training for obedience. I’m also interested to hear what challenges you face when training for obedience trials. Tell me your problems, and I’ll try to give you solutions based on clicker training in this blog.

Epic playing in the snow today

  • reply Florian ,

    Hello Fanny,

    I following your blog from France, and I’m very interested in learning more from you about clicker training for obedience trials ๐Ÿ™‚

    I actually have a “crossover” dog and a 3 month old briard pup. I’m encouraging my crossover dog to be creative since one year, and I’m clicker training my pup since one month.

    I’ve read a lot about clicker training but I don’t know anyone around me training with a clicker. Figuring solutions to my problems is nice and challenging, but I would happily use advice ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • reply Fanny ,

      Great to hear from you, Florian. Is there anything in particular that you would like to read about?

      • reply Amy Greenwood ,

        Oh wow! Xmas is coming early this year. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Fanny!

        I train my English Setter and English Cocker Spaniel for agility and obedience. Our biggest challenge is about maintaining arousal/motivation/drive over a longer duration and in the more stressful environments of trials. I’m always working on tugging but my setter is sometimes still too stressed to tug reliably at trials. My cocker, who will tug, just doesn’t seem to get high enough into the arousal curve with tugging to get peak performance. He’s much more food-motivated.

        Off the top of my head, some exercises I’ve seen you work on your videos and would like to know more about:
        1) heeling (the backwards walking method)
        2) retrieve
        3) scent discrimination – how do you start the sticky note game?
        4) moving stand
        5) ideas for using crate games for training obedience exercises
        6) go outs (sends)

        Are you coming back to western Canada anytime soon?

        Amy Greenwood

        • reply Florian ,

          General questions about playing:
          What would be the games you recommend as a reward and to make a break in a training.
          Does playing helps learning? In which ways? I’m playing with my dogs tug games, ball, so I’m wondering about the effects on the training.
          Oh also should I use only one and only toy, or many of them?

          Also a question about retrieving the scented article:
          My dog is 45kg, and he stops with his handbrake! As a result he often mess up the articles.
          I was wondering about using a target behind the articles: so the dog goes behind the articles, face me, and then search.

          • reply Mary ,

            Like Amy, my biggest challenge seems to be making the transition from practice to the show ring. Some of the issues that I think are related to this are reinforcement ratios, chaining behaviors and even things like practice schedules – how much training to get reliability without boring the dog (or the trainer!).

            And duration stays! How do you develop duration and then what are your strategies for proofing the stays (not sure if these are required in your region – they are a big issue in the US). How do you determine that the dog is ready to do the stays in a show environment? I’ve been able to develop good, “casual” stays with my dogs in the past, but I am always looking for new strategies to improve the learning and the performance.

            • reply Louise ,

              Finaste Epic =)

              • reply Lindsay ,

                I would love to hear more about clicker training for obedience trials! I’m pretty new to the sport still, so I’m not entirely where to start.

                • reply sw weaver ,

                  Don’t do formal obedience presently, but compete in agility. I would love to know how to train “heeling backwards” or “reverse weave” — through the hanlder’s legs that I have seen in canine freestyle. I would also like to know how to break down the steps to train my dog to “prance” in heel position. My use of the clicker has been limited since my dog goes a bit nutty with it and basically just starts barking, barking, barking, while throwing lots of behaviours at me. I changed to a verbal marker, since I am concerned that what I am doing is training my dog to be a barker. She keeps her thoughts and responds much better with a verbal marker. With a clicker, do I just wait her out, until she becomes more thoughtful?

                  • reply Nancy Ripperger ,

                    Franny, Very happy to see that you are back to blogging. Like the other people I would like to hear more about dealing with trial stress. Also are you are “pure” clicker trainer in that you do not correct? If you correct, which corrections do you use. If you do not use any form of corrections how do you get consistent performance out of your dogs in distracting or stressful enviornments. I would also like to hear more about your methods of teaching heeling. Looking forward to your posts.

                    • reply sue ,

                      Hi Fanny, i’d particularly love to see how you train the moving stand…..


                      • reply Laura, Lance, and Vito ,

                        Everything! I want to know everything!

                        If I have to be specific I want to know how you teach the hold part of the retrieve. You posted a video of you doing it through tugging, but I would like more information and also want to know if you have a method for teaching it wit a dog who’s more food motivated than toy motivated.

                        Also the go out. I know you have a different type of go out than we do in the US but I’m still curious.

                        How do you fix forging and crowding ๐Ÿ™‚

                        • reply Rachel ,

                          Thanks for asking Fanny:-) My struggles are the positions from a distance, mainly the stand. I do FCI competitive obedience BTW. The other thing is probably the square exercise ๐Ÿ˜‰

                          @Florian: Where in France are you? I am in Switzerland and I know a girl in France (right by the border) who is pretty good with obedience clicker training. My dogs are from France so yes I am aware of some of the training “techniques” in France, mainly french ring.

                          • reply Florian ,

                            @Rachel: I live in south-west near Cahors.

                            • reply Nuno Pereira ,

                              Hello Fanny,

                              I’m following your blog from Portugal, and I wold love to learn more from you about clicker training for obedience.

                              I’m starting training my dog for obedience and my biggest problems at the moment are the movement positions and stand from a distance. I also wold like to know more about scent discrimination and send aways using a clicker.

                              Oh ! I will also love to read about footwork for the turns and change of speed.

                              keep up good work

                              • reply Kim Holmes ,

                                Hi Fanny,

                                I’m in the US and would love to hear how you train the retrieve.


                                • reply Valerie, Toby and Macy ,

                                  I’m going to second Laura, Lance and Vito’s request for learning how to teach the hold for a retrieve. I’ve seen one of your videos with Missy and that was amazing. I’d like for retrieving and holding the dumbbell to be as fun for my dogs too. As well as how to teach the Stand. I can see where it’s a hard concept to grasp and both of my dogs seem to miss the bill when we’re training that.

                                  I’m game to learn anything else. I’ve never competed in obedience and while I’d like to start, the only trainers around here are very pro-prong collars so I’ve been trying to find better ways to teach it myself… which is hard to do when you’re starting with no knowledge at all.

                                  • reply Laetitia ,


                                    I’m very happy to see that the blog lives again ^^ I do obedience with my BC in France. I would like contents for instructors. In fact, I am volunteer instructor in obedience and I have some problems. I work with clicker training, but my students don’t train their dog between classes. Additionally, the dogs integrating my class are adults with issues (not contact, not recall, get away when they are unleash, not greedy, don’t play with tug, don’t retrieve a toy etc…). I can get some improvements but they won’t be good obedience dogs neither a commitment of their handler ๐Ÿ™ But I hope that they can do some trials in little degrees. I lack to idea today for obtain more contact and motivation in training!

                                    Thank you for your blog!

                                    • reply Michelle ,

                                      Hello from Singapore! I just stumbled on your website and am reading through all your old posts! They are chock full of helpful tips!

                                      Personally, I’m just starting out in obedience and have 2 great shelties with very different personalities so training each comes with his/her own bag of problems! Heeling has always been the biggest challenge.

                                      I have read a few books on obedience training but have found that most of them (almost all!) recommend corrections (leash pops, prong collars, etc), and I’m not keen on doing that. I’m sure clicker training and positive reinforcement training can deliver the same results!

                                      Looking forward to your blog updates and videos!


                                      Leave a comment