Retrieve & Jumping
I teach a non force retrieve. This will work with dogs that are natural retrievers or dogs that only like food. I do use food as the main primary reinforcement. The steps to building a nice fast RELIABLE retrieve are a building block of things you have learned and develop your skills in operand conditioning.
Information to further your knowledge of Obedience
Retrieve & Jumping
Retrieve - Gloves
First step - Work on mouth tolerance. Mouth tolerance is where the dog does not shy away or worry when I touch their mouth. I work this at the dog's level. Here is an example of steps I go through with the dog but I do not move on if the dog is showing any signs of shyness.
· Touch the dogs chin "Event Marker" "Treat".
· Touch the dogs' lips "Event Marker" "Treat".
· Raise the dog's lip "Event Marker" "Treat".
· Finger in their mouth "Event Marker" "Treat".
· Slowly able to open the mouth with two fingers on one hand "Event Marker" "Treat".
· You can go as far as opening to look in with no resistance "Event Marker" "Treat".
· Putting a treat in their mouth (they do not eat it) "Event Marker" "Treat".
Second step -Have a well fitting dumbbell for your dog. Dumbbells can be purchased at most dog shows and you would have an opportunity to fit your dog to the db. Try to make the fitting process a positive one by having lots of food to reward for letting you put this thing in their mouth. If you have done the mouth tolerance this process should be easier. You want the bar of the dumbbell to be comfortable for the dog to close their mouth. I usually like a small bar. You want the length of the bar wide enough that there is room for the dogs mouth even if the side lip is curled up. The bells of the dumbbell should be at a height that is easy for the dog to pick up off the floor without bumping their chin.
Third step - Have food and db (Dumbbell) . The steps with each dog will vary. If you have done db work before you will need to start a positive association with the db. I will go through the steps to teach the db.
· Present the db - dog looks at it "Event Marker" "Treat".
· Present the db - this time wait till the dog touches it with their nose "Event Marker" "Treat".
· If the dog is having a hard time you can place the food close to the db to get them looking at the db "Event Marker" "Treat".
· Timing is everything teaching the db. Need to be sure you are rewarding for the db in the dogs mouth. Timing is that you give the "Event marker " while db is in the mouth.
· The dog is looking at the db happily, willing to touch the db now we want the dog to open mouth and put it around the db. We do not care if he holds it we just want the mouth to cover the bar "Event Marker" "Treat". Best way to give treat is when the bar is in their mouth and throw it in for the reward.
· Now we would like to get more behavior - to get more behavior you need to become variable and unpredictable. You will not always give the dog treat for the action but you will "Mark" them so they know they are on the right track. This is how you will get more behavior.
· Work this stage with distraction - food in one hand db in other, toys, people, high reach, low reach to the ground, behind your back, standing and sitting.
· Reminder be variable and unpredictable because now we are going to ask for more behavior. We want the dog to actually HOLD it. This is a waiting game looking for the dog to offer more behavior. I watch for the moment they hold their mouth on db even for a second "Event Marker" "Treat". I get really excited and usually quit that session and try again later. If the dog tries to cover and do things I will let the dog know that they are on the right track. A big party if they hold even for a second.
· The dog will begin to understand that you get really excited over something and now they have to associate it with the hold. Be patient and ignore all behavior you do not like and reward the dog for correct work. Add the cue word once the dog understands that the db is something they should reach for and get. I use "Fetch".
· Once the dog is holding the db. You will need to build the amount of time the dog will hold. You should count so you can keep track how long you are working. One time do 1 "Event Marker" "Treat". Then 3 second do "Event Marker" "Treat". Back to one. Just be variable and unpredictable till you have a hold.
· Add distractions like before.
· Dog needs to walk, run and learn to jump with db in their mouth.
· Dog reaches the db with your outreached hand and turns back to you to present the db. Can be a hard step but be patient and the dog will figure it out.
· Place the db on the floor and leave your hand on the db and say "Fetch" when the dog's mouth is on the db "Event Mark" and treat when he has presented the db. This can be hard concept for dogs to get the db off the floor and moving your hand off the db. So go slowly moving your hand farther and farther away.
· Once the dog is fetching right in front of you time to start throwing it.
· The final exercise the dog needs a "Sit" "Wait" Handler throws the db. "Fetch" Dog runs out and back with the db. Front and Finish.
Step 4 - Distractions - Need to take this exercise everywhere and get the dog use to all distractions. If the dog becomes distracted. Handler runs get the db and eat cookies and make a big deal you got everything. If you have a helper it is a big effect if they go out get the db and all the dogs wonderful cookies. You will find the dog realize that he will not get reinforcement unless he brings the db back.
Step 5 - Practice Throwing the db. This is the handler's responsibility. I set up so I have to land the db in a certain spot. I practice straight and long. If I throw a crooked db I will walk out and get it my self and re-throw. My throwing seems to improve the more I walk out.
Step 1 - I show the dog a glove and go through all of the above steps. I tie a string around the glove so it is rigid and easier for the dog to grab.
Step 2 - I start showing my "Mark" signal to the dogs at a very young age. I want the dogs to like this exercise and learn to go away from me and come back. I have a cookie in my left hand (invisible). I hold the dog with my right hand so that he does not have to wait (I want them excited so I hold them so they really want to go do the exercise). I use my left hand to point to the ground straight ahead. I drop the cookie out of the hand "Mark" then "Fetch" and release the dog to the cookie. Then "come" and treat.
· Building this exercise I will throw the food up to 6 or 7 feet.
· Turn my hand and point left and right to get the treat.
· Then I do a blind (invisible - not thrown cookie) retrieve. I place the food out at the same distance I have been sending him. When the dog goes in the right direction and gets the food "Event Marker" "Treat".
· If you are working on retrieving and the dog holds and carry’s and fetch we can go with the glove exercise.
· While I am teaching this I will be working on my Go Outs. In the GO out exercise you what to have your gloves, toys etc laying around so the dog will learn to go straight even if their are distractions. This will be proofing on Go Outs later. If you do it early before the dog retrieves a glove they will think it is no big deal.
Step 3 - I will set glove 1 and 3 out so that it is easy for the dog. I will mark them hang on to their collar and walk to the glove release the dog when I am sure they are going to take the correct glove. I want the dog to drop their head when my hand drops and look where I am pointing. I will send the dog for the glove "Fetch" when the dog has their mouth on the glove "Event Marker" "Treat" and come and Treat on the return and presentation.
Step 4 - Add the 2 glove after the dog understands to run out to 1 and 3. I usually have bigger more powerful reward on 1 and 3. Dogs like number 2 so I usually have lower level food and level of praise. I start back at step 3 showing them the 3 gloves and build back up. If the dog happens to take the wrong glove I run to the right glove and give myself all the wonderful cookies and ignore the dog till they get the right glove. I really watch where the dog is looking before I send them. If they are not looking straight at the right glove I walk to the right glove making sure they see the correct picture. If the dog looks at the wrong glove I will raise my mark hand back to heel position and then remark to the glove (see step 5).
Step 5 - I practice Marking a glove and then standing straight up. I want the dog to give me attention if I stand up and bring my hand up. I practice this outside the glove exercise till they understand what I call the remark.
Step 6 - Pivots are put into the exercise and practice all the gloves.
Step 7 - Proofing with distraction like the retrieve. Usually they already understand they must get a glove from the retrieve.
Step 8 - Blind Gloves - All gloves invisible. Go back to helping if you need to. I do not do this step with all dogs unless they are having a problem understanding the directions. If everything is going well I would not go on with this step.
· 1 and 3 visible 2 invisible send dog to 2.
· 2 visible and 1 and 3 invisible send the dog to 1 or 3.
· Work this variable I will also work with gloves in a circle around me and the dog and pivot and send the dog for different gloves.
· Take the exercise on the road.
Thanks to all that made it all possible - Dale Gordon, Dawn Jecs, Patty Ruzzo. Jumping/Heeling -
The Clothier Natural Jumping Method - Suzanne Clothier
Flying Dog Press 1-800-7-fly-dog
Jumping from A to Z by M. Christine Zink DVM
Canine Athletic by M. Christine Zink DVM
Canine Sports Productions
1810A York Rd #360
Luthervill, MD 21093
These are two outstanding books. They are inexpensive highly recommend reading them to increase your dogs performance ability.
My main points on jumping:
· Dogs under one year of age should not jump higher then elbow height.
· You should condition your dog for performance events.
· Dogs over a year old when you are increasing jump height no more then one inch at a time.
· Any time you see signs of unsure jumping style you should back up. Look for ears, body posture, poor jumping style.
· I introduce jumps laying on the ground and walk with the dog over the jumps. I walk up to the jump on leash. Step over with the leg on the side of the dog and say "jump" reinforce the dog on the other side of the jump.
· After the dog is going over ground poles and short jumps I work on one jump. I stand over the jump with a leg on each side. I am actually standing inside the stations of the jump. I have the dog wait. I have the dog walk up and eat a cookie off the jump and encourage them to jump. Then I set the dog up for the them jump and when they dog is at full height (arc of their jump) "yes" and throw the treat. Then I call the dog back over the jump and say "jump" "Event Marker " at the height of the jump and throw treat.
· I spend time conditioning and having the dog jump comfortable in on locations in all environments.
Heeling is a very big topic and I am only touching on it in my writings. I would like to address the "Lets Go" this is what I use between exercises in the ring. I use the "Lets GO" to give the dog an opportunity to look around if needed, talk to the dog and interact, and try to relieve any stress they may have in the ring environment. I think it is very important to practice this as an exercise the dog is complete comfortable walking with you and lining up with you.
The dog that will follow the touch hand will be in a perfect place to learn this exercise. If the dog is still learning the touch and follow the hand we will work with what the dog knows. I will work the touch exercise till the dog will easily follow your hand then you "Event Marker" "Treat".
If you need to have the dog follow food as a lure this will work but remember the dog is not learning so you will have to start at the first steps with your touch hand.
Food as the Primary Reinforcement is an easy way to show the dogs how to do things, however the dog isn’t learning mentally. They will learn some muscle memorization and how to physical make the move but we need to get to learning. We need a Secondary Reinforce to show a dog how to do an exercise without food and something they still like to participate in. The touch is a perfect tool, the touch your hand will become very self reinforcing to the dog and they will learn muscle control and mental control.
· Always turn to left when doing a "Lets Go".
· Stay with your dog. If they are having a hard time I wait till they come up to me then "Event Marker" "Treat". I just wait for them to come up. If they are very distracted and I have a helper I would leave the room - always make sure the dog is safe if you do this.
· When I am preparing to stop on a spot I will say "Sit" and then stop so that the dog can get straight with me. If they are young puppies I will get straight with them and work on the sit next time.
· You should walk around with your dog confidently and easily and be able to go into a sit. You should be comfortable moving up and inch , back and inch or relining up.
· If you like to pet your dog and your dog isn’t sure that petting is apart of working I spend time pairing food and petting. In obedience competition between exercise is when you can pet and interact with your dog make sure that your interaction is something the dog likes. i.e. - kiss, pet, scratch, smile.
· Smile - We always want to have a nice happy smile on our faces to make the dog happy relaxed.
· Distraction - I want to take the "Lets Go" everywhere fun matches, shopping malls, schools and training situations. When the dog and you are very comfortable walking around I will begin to have you work with food off your body placed in and around the training environment. You will begin to show the dog that food will come and how to get it. Nice attention and happy work will get him food from somewhere or some one.
This is for the Utility class, the 3rd level of competition obedience. The dog to start this exercise must be comfortable with jumping. It doesn’t have to be high jump but they must understand going over a jump.
· Step 1 - I set up a bar and high jump close together ( 6 feet apart). I will sit the dog in front of one of the jumps. I will stand between the 2 jumps right next to the jumps. I will focus on the dog with food in the hand I will send the dog by pointing my hand to the jump and say "jump" when the dog is going over the jump "Event Marker" "Treat". You may run and reward the dog. Do this over both jumps.
· Step 2 - Building angle jumping. The dog needs to go to the center of the two jumps (right in front of you) and you are going to send your dog to each of the jumps as we did above. If the dog ever comes straight to you run to the jump and help the dog over that jump.
· Step 3 - Start to spread the jumps apart till they are 26 feet apart. Work all of the above exercise.
· Step 4 - Begin to back up so you and the dog are at opposite ends of the ring.
Retrieve over the High
The retrieve over the high is in Open class, the 2nd level of competition obedience. The dog will work on similar jumping as above in Directed Jumping. You want the dog to learn to jump from every angle put you are always in the center of jump 8 feet back. The dog should learn all angles to come over the jump.
· The dog will allot learn to do all angles with dumbbell (db) in their mouth.
· The dog needs to be comfortable jumping over the jump with db in their mouth to go on.
· I start with dog sitting next to me holding the collar and throwing the db over the jump I say "Hup" release the dog and when they get to the db "Fetch" then I repeat "Hup" . "Event Marker" should be varied on all part s of this exercise and the treat would be given on the presentation of the db.
· Practice away from the jump the dog sitting and you placing the db in front and behind him and tell him to fetch.
· Set the dog on one side of the jump and place the db behind the dog and say "Fetch" then "hup". This is to show the dog how to turn and make the jump with out doing the whole exercise. I do this with the dog at all angles.
· I will take this exercise on the road to make sure the dog is comfortable. If the dog doesn’t retrieve I just grab the db and eat all the treats. If the dog starts to go around the jump I will get closer and back up some steps.
· If your dog isn't retrieving you can to the "Eat over the High Jump". Do the formal exercise. If you need a helper to make sure the dog doesn't get up only do it with a helper. Tell the dog to "Wait", throw the visible food, if dog is waiting use your retrieve word "Hup" "Fetch" then I say the dogs name and "Hup", work the front and the finish so you have it when the dog is actually retrieving the db.
This is an exercise in Open class, the 2nd level of competition obedience. Need to read the rule book on the number of jumps that you will need to use. This exercises seems silly to all but we have fun with it.
· Get the dog comfortable going over the jump. I call these run byes.
· When the dog has a wait and an understanding of jumping and you have done allot of run byes you can go on.
· I stand in front of the boards and call my dog over the jump and turn and run with the dog. This will be a straight jump for the dog but I will be standing sideways. I do this till the dog is comfortable. You may also throw a cookie after the dog is in the air.
· I will slowly move to the point next to the jumps that you need to be in the ring. I will vary the reinforcement to the dog by throwing the cookie, running and giving the cookie or doing and under to get the cookie. All things are done when the dog is in the air.
· I show the dog the turn from the jumps into a front position. This is a little stationary exercise that I show the dogs but I don’t spend allot of time drilling.
Making the exercise more formal I will vary when the dog gets the reinforcement but I am constantly watching for straight jumping and the dog not anticipation the turn.