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Training In Ten Minutes, Episode #8 – Collection

In this episode of the 10-Minute Trainer, we’re going to work on collection cues. Collection cues are different than turning cues; most of the time, turning cues are sufficient to let your dog know where to go next on a course. However, there are some times when you need to more specifically cue your dog to collect, or slow down. Some of the cue combinations you do with your dog on course may be causing your dog’s response to your collection cues to be dulled (or nonexistent!). In this 10-minute trainer, we’re going to take a look at whether or not you can cue and get collection. Remember, you get what you reinforce – so if you cue collection, and your dog does not give you collection as a response, and you continue on, you’ve reinforced something other than collection as a response to your collection cues!

 

Download a PDF for these free weave pole games!

 

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The Agility Challenge is Daisy’s online agility training program that includes all of her online courses, as well as monthly challenges in 10 different categories, AND League Play! For just $24.95/month, it’s the BIGGEST library of content for the lowest price you’ll find anywhere. AND, it all comes with FEEDBACK!!

 

Training In Ten Minutes, Episode #7 – Fun with weave poles

In this episode of the 10-Minute Trainer, we’re going to have some fun with weave poles. I’m going to assume that your dog already knows how to weave, and that, in your 10-minutes today, you’d like to spend some time working on weave poles in a way that’s quick, fun, and productive! So, here are a couple of weaving games you can play, alone, or with a training partner.

W.E.A.V.E.

This is a weave pole game that you can play with a training partner. If you have more time, you can get even more people and dogs involved and have a really fun time! This game is based off of a basketball came called H.O.R.S.E., in which the first person with the basketball attempts to make a basket. If that person is successful, every other person has to try to make a basket while using the same technique, stance, and location as the first person.  As long as you make the basket, there’s no penalty. But, if you miss, you earn an H, or an O, etc. The last person to spell out H.O.R.S.E. is the winner! Applied to the weave poles, you can do the same thing. We’ll spell out W.E.A.V.E. instead of H.O.R.S.E!

 

Figure 1

Since you’re just working on entries for this game, stick to a set of six weave poles. Whoever goes first determines the approach angle in to, and handling of, the weave poles. So if that person is standing on one foot in a particular spot, asking their dog to weave from a particular spot, so must everybody else. If the dog makes the weave entry and completes all six poles, no penalty is applied. But if the dog misses the weave entry or fails to complete the poles, that handler is assessed a letter (starting with W, and then E, A, V, etc.).  When each person has had his or her turn, the round starts over, with the next handler determining the starting location.

This is a fun game because it will force you to attempt the weave poles in ways you might not have thought up! Of course, if you and your dog have trouble with a particular entry, you can put it on your list of things to work on for another time.

Weave Pole Passing

With this game, you’ll want to make sure that you keep the environment safe for all people and dogs, since you’ll be using the motion of other dogs as a distraction. So, you may need to start with more distance between sets of weave poles, or a fence or other temporary barrier.

You’ll need two dog/handler teams for this one – or, if you’re feeling ambitious, two of your own dogs! You’ll also need two sets of six weave poles.

Figure 2

Two dogs will be weaving at the same time. To start with, have both dogs weaving in the same direction, but then, to make it more difficult, have the dogs weaving in opposite directions, to really test your dog’s ability to stay in the poles even with lots of moving distractions. See the figures below for more variations on this game. Figures are shown in increasing level of difficulty, although you may find a different order to be the case for your dog!

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

If you have two of your own dogs, you can work on weave pole passing on your own; it will be a test of your dogs’ ability to weave, and of your ability to keep your eye on multiple dogs at one time, as you’ll have two dogs you’ll be needing to reward or repeat with! I do this with my own dogs periodically, and it’s great fun.

There’s one more variation on this that I do with my own dogs, that requires twelve weave poles, which is the most fun of all, and is highly motivating for my dogs. Check out Figure 6!

Figure 6

For this one, you’ll have to figure out which dog should go in front – is your dog more distracted knowing there is a dog behind, or in front of him? And, you’ll need to make sure that you space the dogs out so that the dog in the rear doesn’t overtake the dog in front. I have to hold on to my dogs’ collars tightly for this one, as they’re usually screaming to get to the poles, one after another.

One dog, one handler games

If you’ve only got one dog (or only one dog that can weave), here are some games you can play that will challenge your dog to stay in the poles despite your distractions. Most of these capitalize on unusual handler movement and/or location, so be creative and don’t limit yourself here!

 

  • Get your dog weaving, and then cut through the weave poles in front of or behind him.
  • Get your dog weaving, and then weave after him for a few poles
  • Send your dog to the weave poles, but then, just before he enters, do something unusual: a jumping jack, drop to the ground, bend over to inspect the ground, stand on one leg, clap your hands, make an unusual noise, etc.
  • Send your dog to the weave poles and once he’s weaving, turn away from him in a full circle – spin quickly so you can see if he’s popped out of the poles or not!
  • Start at opposite ends of the weave poles, and cut across the end of the poles while your dog is weaving
  • Start you and your dog at opposite ends of the weave poles, and move toward your dog while he is weaving toward you. Try this on a set of six and twelve poles.

Move across the end of the poles while your dog is weaving

 

Move in the direction opposite your dog’s direction of weaving

Hopefully, you’ve come away with a few fun games that you can play with multiple dogs, or with a training partner or friend, as well as some silly variations on what you might be doing to pose as a distraction to your dog while he is weaving.

As always, if your dog makes a mistake, make sure that you back off with the level of distraction, and reward him when he gets it right, and then increase the level of distraction again. Make sure you’re having fun!

Download a PDF for these free weave pole games!

 

WANT MORE GREAT TRAINING LIKE THIS, AND MEMBERSHIP TO A GREAT ONLINE COMMUNITY?

The Agility Challenge is Daisy’s online agility training program that includes all of her online courses, as well as monthly challenges in 10 different categories, AND League Play! For just $24.95/month, it’s the BIGGEST library of content for the lowest price you’ll find anywhere. AND, it all comes with FEEDBACK!!

 

5

Training In Ten Minutes, Episode #6 – Post Turns

In this episode of the 10-Minute Trainer, we’re going to spend our ten minutes working on a cue combination that is often overlooked, if not just plain avoided. Love it or hate it (or even if you’re feeling ambivalent), the post turn is one of those things that sooner or later, you’re going to wish you’d spent a little time on! Even though I do incorporate blind crosses and some of the “fancier” cue combinations in my handling, they are not a substitute for the simple and effective cue combinations I keep in my handling toolbox.

Post turns may seem boring, and I don’t much like standing like a post myself while on course, but, they can also be tricky with respect to proper timing. The problem with the timing of a post turn is that if you turn your shoulders away from your dog while doing it, you can actually send your dog forward in an unexpected way, rather than cuing a turn. Rotating your shoulders away from your dog is a forward cue, and not a turning cue – so if your dog is turning toward you as you’re rotating away from him, it’s likely that you’re also decelerating, and that the deceleration is in fact cuing the turn, and not any shoulder rotation away from your dog. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

In a post turn, because you need to rotate in the same direction as the dog, this can present a problem, as your rotation creates multiple opportunities to inadvertently give your dog a cue to go forward rather than turn. See Figure 2a and 2b.

Figure 2

Many people view a post turn as something to pull their dog through with their inside shoulder. However, when there is a jump involved, this means your dog is always reading the cue of you turning your back on him, which is likely to send him further forward as you execute this maneuver, rather than to wrap the jump as tightly as you had expected or hoped for.

Rather than moving your shoulders ahead of your dog through a post turn, try imagining that you are staying slightly rotated toward your dog, asking him to continually bump up against your outside shoulder, which you’ll then continually rotate away from him, so he can continue to move through the turn. See Figure 3a and 3b.

Figure 3a-b

Download a PDF for this free lesson on post turns!

The exercise

This month’s 10-minute trainer exercise is more of an experiment than an exercise – as long as your dog keeps the bar up on the jump you’re going to be using, you can feel free to reward him, as it will be you who will be finding out just how much (or how little) shoulder rotation away from your dog your dog can cope with. What you will be doing in this exercise is exploring the timing of your post turns, so that you can do all sorts of different kinds of post turns, depending on the situation.

What you’ll need

You’ll need two jumps for this exercise, and some small markers that you can put on the ground to mark the widest point of your dog’s turn (pieces of colored paper, or large coins, or similar objects, will suffice). Make sure you know which marker corresponds to which figure you’ve attempted. You may also want a video camera for this exercise so you can review your session later.

The set up for this exercise is shown in Figure 4. This will be the set up for a post turn, where your dog will start on your left, and you will be turning clockwise. For a counter-clockwise post turn, flip the set up horizontally.

Figure 4

The actual exercise

In each case, for the set up shown in Figure 4, we will be doing a post turn with our dog on our left, where we are rotating clockwise. Be sure to do this in both directions, though! And, although I’ve got the jump shown at 4’ away in Figure 4, if your dog is extremely keen to take obstacles, you may want to expand your set up to a distance of 5-7’.

You are going to perform a series of post turns as shown in Figures 5a-5d. Each time, set your dog up at exactly the same distance from the jump, and stand in exactly the same location yourself. You may want to use the markers to help keep track of these locations. Each time you perform this post turn, as shown in Figures 5a-5d, use a marker to note the widest point of your dog’s turn, and note whether or not the dog takes the nearby off course jump.

Figure 5

Do your best to keep the presentation of your body the same to your dog throughout the post turn. This means that you will have to rotate as your dog proceeds through the turn, so that your dog stays parallel to the exact same point on your body – you may need to move slower or faster to accomplish this. For example, in Figure 5a, you will likely need to move your shoulders quickly away from your dog, but in Figure 5d, you will find that you will be rotating more slowly.

Do you notice any difference between these four different shoulder presentations to your dog with respect to the quality of the turn? With little speed, and a perpendicular approach to the jump, you may not! However, repeat the experiment with these two variations (Figures 6 and 7), and you may start to see a difference!

Figure 6a

For the variation in Figure 6, locate yourself neither on the takeoff side of the jump, or the landing side of the jump, but rather, right on the plane of the jump, as shown. And again, make sure to set your dog up in the same location each time, as well as yourself. Use your markers to note the width of the dog’s turn for each attempt, and don’t forget to reward your dog, just as long as he keeps the bar up!

Figure 6b-e

Finally, since you won’t often have the luxury of doing a post turn from a stationary location, add some speed and motion on the part of both you and your dog. Start off easy for yourself, by adding speed on the part of the dog first, while you remain stationary. If you have a tunnel, use the set ups shown in Figure 7a-b to repeat the above scenarios with your dog coming in to the set up with more speed. And, if you don’t have a tunnel, simply set your dog up further back (15-20’). Again, be sure to start your dog from the same location each time, and start in the same location yourself! Note that in these scenarios, I’ve removed the off course jump– you can remove it altogether, or move it to a more reasonable distance from the first jump, but you should still use your markers to keep track of differences in the widest point of your dog’s turn around the jump as you vary the presentation of your shoulders to your dog throughout the post turn. With these new set ups, repeat the procedure outlined in Figures 5a-d and 6b-e.

Figure 7a-7b

At the end of this short exercise, you should have a little bit better understanding of how the presentation of your shoulders relative to your dog can affect your ability to execute a great good old-fashioned post turn. And, because you’ve been rewarding your dog for every single one of these post turns (as long as the bar stayed up), your dog has also been reinforced for doing post turns!

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT POST TURNS AND SHOULDER PULLS?

Watch this video, which was a weekly webinar presented to my Agility Challenge group recently! Weekly webinars are just part of The Agility Challenge, my year long program that includes training, handling, league play, courses, and more!