In this article from our quartly newsletter, Alison True describes one of the foundation exercises that Debbie Allery has been using with her youngster Reeva.

This simple exercise teaches the dog to move away from you to go around an object. Once the dog ‘knows the game’ a cue word (command) is added so that, over time and with lots of practise, you have a dog who will run to, and go around, an object independently when asked to do so. To the dog this is just a fun game for which they get your praise and a treat or toy as a reward but it is the basis of the manoeuvres which, in future, will get your dog around an agility course. You can use any object initially, a traffic cone, a bucket, a broom handle in the ground or anything similar. Training will progress to using a jump wing alone then eventually putting the pole in place too so that your dog will move away from you, go over the jump and return to you. Sounds easy enough but it gets more tricky when you want your dog to turn in a particular direction. For example my 2-year-old who is now competing has 5 different jump ‘turn’ commands all of which evolved from this exercise.

Working around a pole/wing/cone

The exercise develops by moving further away, then adding a “cue” word. Make it rewarding with a treat or game/toy as shown in the following pictures. Step 1 Directing Reeva from one hand to the other around the object. Starting with treat as a reward and standing close to the pole.

Step 2 Moving very slightly further back and using more of a hand motion. Add in a cue word as soon as they start to move towards the object.

Step 3 Take another step back. Use the same hand motion and cue word and reward for completing the exercise.

Step 4/5 Continue to increase the distance between yourself and the obstacle to create independence and use the same cue word and hand/arm motion to ensure consistency. As your dogs confidence increases use the cue word immediately before the hand motion so that they anticipate the action. This helps your dog work with verbal commands only if, on a course, you aren’t able to be alongside them to give the physical clues. Step 6 When they have mastered the ‘game’ of turning over jumps in one direction responding to one cue you can start the process all over again for a different turn and using a completely different command (cue word).

You can download the article, with pictures, here:

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Date 25-05-2020
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