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To finish up second grade today, we had a little competition--who could do 'down from a distance' at the greatest distance, and Cleo won! I knew she could do it from a really long way away, but i wasn't sure how she'd do with all the other dogs around. One thing she does, though, is anticipate me. As soon as I walked away and stopped, before i could tell her what to do, she went into down position. When we practice at home, i mix it up and sometimes call her to come to me instead (or other things). What is the best way to make sure she waits for my instruction first?
 

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That's an excellent question. Poodles are intelligent dogs. And part of training an intelligent dog is realizing they are good at guessing what you're going to ask next. For example, in AKC obedience Open exercise we have command discrimination. Open A orders are Stand, walk 15 feet, turn and face the dog, down your dog, walk 15 more feet, sit your dog. So, stand, down, sit. Once the dog knows what to do, you can walk 15 feet, turn around and your poodle lies down without you. That's an automatic NQ, or non-qualifying score.

To prevent your dog from patterning and guessing, you can pick four different cues for the training session and randomly alternate between them. Stand, spin, sit, down, spin, stand, down, sit... If you rotate between them without a pattern, and only reward when the dog is listening, you'll help your dog wait for the cue.

When your dog guesses what you're going to ask, and performs the behavior without you, ignore that one. Turn around, grab your drink off the table, take a drink, pretend nothing happened, and start over. No need to scold, just remove your attention, and take a 15 second break from training. Then go right back and ask for the identical behavior and reward it richly.
 

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In addition to randomly asking for different behaviors to break up a pattern, also add in random timing and change your distance within what Is appropriate for Cleo.

For the example that Click mentioned, I think of two numbers in my head.....say 8 and 10. When I train signal exercises I’ll walk 8 steps away before turning to face my dog and silently count to 10 before asking her to down. Then I walk 8 more steps before turning to face my dog and silently count to 10 before asking her to sit. I then can choose to work this a few times using my 8/10 pattern or I might switch to a different set of numbers. I’m always changing those numbers in my head so I don’t creat a pattern of anticipation. Sometimes I practice the correct distance with appropriate timing for competition.

Change location where you train too because that’s an additional challenge for Cleo.

Cleo’s a smart dog and yo’re doing great with your training.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you! This is all such excellent advice! It makes a lot of sense, and I will start doing these sequences with more randomness.
 
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