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Old 04-10-2019, 06:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The best obedience class - I love it

I've gotten in a very popular class at my club with the most boring name of heeling and retrieve. No one wants to leave this class so it's hard to get in and the reason is it's so much fun. I'm only supposed to be auditing, but someone is not able to come for a month so I've been allowed to work my dog in the class and since we are doing so well, I'm hoping I can continue to work her.

It's really a proofing class, the teacher is so creative. There's a quarter jar - you have to feed the jar if you finish or front your dog unless you are told to do so. The idea is that you train perfect finishes and fronts separately. I haven't had to feed the jar yet, but OMG it's quite the challenge to do something and not finish or front if it's something we normally do so.

Here's some of the things we've done:

Dumbbell retrieve - we had the jump in the middle of the room and we were doing retrieve on the flat on the right, then over, then on the left ..... and never let the dog come into that sit in front. Babykins always jumps over and back with the jump, but I wasn't sure what she would do with throwing on the flat on both sides but she retrieved as I asked her to do. Most of the dogs had problems with the jump.

Then we threw dumbbells into the area where lots of the agility equipment was stored - jumps, weave poles, gating and other stuff jumbled up in several layers. The dogs had to go into that mess and puzzle out how to get their dumbbell and come back with their dumbbell. This is where nose work has really helped. In the past my dog would be tentative and a little nervous to go into that kind of space. With nose work, she has learned to follow scents into the weirdest and oddest location and the payoff is a ton of treats. All that rewarding in nose work has paid off. She didn't bat an eye lash, she just dove right in and grabbed her dumbbell. In the house I'm looking for those kind of odd spaces to throw her toys when I reward her for going through weave poles etc. in the basement.

This was one that I was shocked that my dog did - I had no idea she would do it. We threw the dumbbell but didn't send them...... instead we walked past the dumbbell to the other side of the room and called them to front. They had to run past their dumbbell and come into front. She did it. Okay then it got harder..... we left them in sit position and walked back to the other side of the room past their dumbbell. We had to call our dog into front and when they were near their dumbbell tell them to pick up their dumbbell and come in.... OMG Babykins did that. I was so proud of her. This was done with two teams working on either side of a barrier so it simulated when you are competing in a ring next to another ring. For the dogs that are so addicted to their dumbbell she had those people throw the dumbbell to the side so the dog didn't have to run past it.

Another dumbbell exercise.... let your dog see you put a food treat on a chair. Then set your dog up about a foot away from the chair and toss. As the dog is coming back in with the dumbbell turn and walk to the chair to get the food. The goal was to get the dog to keep the dumbbell in their mouth as you moved towards the treat. Most of the dogs spit the dumbbell out as soon as their owner went to get the food - and ran to the food. I was so happy Babykins kept her dumbbell in her mouth especially because she's not so crazy about keeping her dumbbell in her mouth. But everything we've done in class she's held onto it until I took it from her. I think it helps that sometimes I have treats in my pocket or hand, and sometimes it's on a table nearby or the fridge so she may be used to watching me reach for a treat.

For heeling we did AKC rally signs.... but only the ones that are heeling. No sits, downs, pivots - nothing that makes you stop moving. And we had to do it quickly. Next week we will be doing it with the metronome. I've never done AKC signs but I figured them out, they were obvious even though some were different. Guess what sign was there..... that famous new sign 320 Side by Side 360įLeft Circle - While heeling, the dog and handler will stop forward motion and make a 360į side by side left circle. I don't spin my dog but two years ago I taught her spins for trick dog test. And my agility trainer reminded me that I do send her to spin around a cone to train a tight turn on a jump - so she knows to complete a turn. As I signaled her to turn I figured I might as well turn too.......OMG we did it perfectly. Most of the people in the class couldn't figure out the sign and I was asked to repeat it a few times. One of the people in the class is an AKC rally judge and she said we did it perfectly. That was the highlight for me. And it made it for her going a little wide on the figure eight (oops, we need lots of work on our heeling). I think the other people in the class had a problem because their dogs didn't understand that they had to finish the spin and instead they would fall out of the spin to get back into heel in whatever way they could.

I can't remember anything else. I am so thrilled that Babykinsis doing so well. I was afraid if she messed up too much they would want us to continue to audit and work on stuff at home.

Next week we're working with our gloves. I'm also working hard on our drop on recall. I wonder what creative proofing she will have with these?

I feel like I'm at Disneyland - only better because I have my dog with me. I've never had a class like this. Maybe bits and pieces within a more traditional class, but not all proofing fun.
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Old 04-10-2019, 07:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds like a wonderful experience for you and Babykins. I was so impressed that she did so well with such complicated exercises.
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Old 04-10-2019, 07:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Asta's Mom View Post
Sounds like a wonderful experience for you and Babykins. I was so impressed that she did so well with such complicated exercises.
I know, Iím shocked and each time she does it. Weíve never done anything like this, itís a real challenge. Our bugaboo is heeling, that I think is our weakness so Iím hoping this exercises helps that heeling in close.

Itís the kind of class I wish everyone doing even beginning puppy class has....obviously puppies would be sitting and laying down and coming basic stuff.
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Old 04-11-2019, 02:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Sounds like a really unique class. Good job Skylar and Babykins. I’m going to save your post as an idea for my club, not that we would qualify to take it.

Do you have any tips for how you convinced Babykins to keep the dumbbell in her mouth, since she doesn’t like it? I’m struggling with that and have just started a grad novice class.
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Old 04-11-2019, 05:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That really sounds like a great class! I wish we had something like that around here. Congratulations on getting a chance to work in there and on doing so well. I can't wait to hear more next week. Tell me everything!
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Wonderful sounding proofing! Making it fun while also harder than actual trial exercises is awesome.
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Old 04-11-2019, 03:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Sounds like a really unique class. Good job Skylar and Babykins. Iím going to save your post as an idea for my club, not that we would qualify to take it.

Do you have any tips for how you convinced Babykins to keep the dumbbell in her mouth, since she doesnít like it? Iím struggling with that and have just started a grad novice class.
My Babykins is a wonderful minipoo...... but she is not a retriever - she wants me to chase her. In the last few months she has independently decided that since I've never chased her to get a toy back, that returning it and dropping it 2 feet away is a good idea because she can get a treat for that. I don't know how I trained her to be so good with the dumbbell - it's as if some pixie fairy sprinkled magic dust.

I have worked on the dumbbell in different ways - breaking it down into the retrieve, hold and handing it to me. I've held her under her chin (gently, she is very sensitive and wouldn't tolerate any rough handling) while I petted and scratched her head and ears as a reward saying "hold" and rewarding. I slowly increased how long I would hold her mouth shut.

I've rubbed hamburger and chicken on the mouth part to encourage her to take the dumbbell. We're limited due to her diet - otherwise I would have tried smelly tastier things like cheese or braunschweiger. To this day she hates to take the dumbbell in her mouth and usually keeps her mouth shut - so I've abandoned this method.

There's also the ear pinch and some gentler versions - I've avoided them because she's sensitive. I wouldn't do the painful one, but the gentler version starts with just touching and petting the dogs ear and treating so they are used to you handling the ear and associate it with good things. Then you do a very gentle pinch, not anything that is painful. Some people in my club do this method with good success.

Normally when Babykins comes in front with her dumbbell she wants to spit it out quickly. I've been slowly extending the time before I take it from her mouth. I started by bending over and catching it as she was dropping it. She didn't get a treat if it fell on the floor. I slowly transitioned to remaining standing before I bent over to pick it up the way you see at trials. In the last few months I was taking a little more time before I would reach in the take it. And more recently, as she was coming in to front, I would take a few more steps back - increasing the time she had to keep the dumbbell in her mouth - before stopping so she could front and give me the dumbbell. In class the trainer is encouraging us to not only take steps back but to also let the dog pass through our legs while holding the dumbbell. Or for us to pivot quickly so now we and the dog are facing the same way and to run a little with the dog holding the dumbbell. I'm sure we'll do more things in the class and I'll post them. Seems the key is to keep that dog holding onto the dumbbell and doing unexpected things with it in their mouth so at trial they will hold onto it until released.

The one thing I can't do is hand her a dumbbell and get her to hold it for any length of time. She has to run to get and take the dumbbell - there has to be some turning on of prey drive to excite her enough to pick it up.

I hope your club can offer a class like this. I was speaking to the trainers helper and she said it's a lot of work - not physically, but mentally thinking of different exercises. The main trainer has decades of experience, she's an AKC judge and has taken all her dogs to Utility - plus she's had all kinds of breeds and has faced all kinds of challenges with her dogs that makes her very special teacher. She watches everyone like a hawk and her constructive advice is incredibly helpful.
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Old 04-11-2019, 05:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks Click and Catherine,

I'll post what we do each week. I don't think what we do is secret - it's the kind of things people do to proof. What makes this class special is that the trainer is creative and pulls all these proofing exercises into one class. And because I'm still so new to competition obedience, it's all new to me.
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Old 04-11-2019, 07:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Skylar - I also wanted to thank you for the training advice re the dumbbell. Very informative. I am just now starting out with Asta and the dumbbell.
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Old 04-11-2019, 07:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Asta’s Mom, I’m glad it’s helpful. I’ve gotten some wonderful training help here from others and it’s great to have this community to share what we learn.
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