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If I throw it wrong, Noelle will go around the jump, get the dumbbell, and jump over on the way back. There's a mismatch here for sure. My best bet is to set her up for success. But we will keep training weird throws. I like the idea of standing off center. That makes sense. I could start off center and toss it off center, then move to the middle while she's retrieving. That could help her understand what I want. Jump first, then get the dumbbell, then jump back.
I have observed the same thing. So my cue to retrieve over the jump is "over." I think you already said that "over" is a problem cue for Noelle. For my dog, I'd add "take it" and then another "over" until he understands each piece is part of the whole "over" command. In CDSP we can give extra cues for a point penalty vs an NQ and eventually they can be faded when the dog's understanding is solidified.

I think it's better for my young boy to get some extra instruction in the ring in this venue and wait to do AKC until he's solid in his performance--particularly heeling! I have so much fun training the "tricks" exercises (dumbbell, gloves, articles, recalls, and drops) that I neglect the exercise that always loses me points. Bad handler!
 
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Another thing I did was I have the jump placed in a narrow hallway between two rooms - there is no choice but to jump both over to retrieve and back to return. I think the repetition of having to jump reinforces the jump even if the throw is wonky.

All my throws are wonky. I once hit the dumbbell on the jump 6 times in a row - only I can do that. I practiced releasing it correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter #844
Well... now I have a new problem.

Noelle, get in. Noelle does a left finish and sits in heel.
Noelle, wait. I give a hand signal. Then I and step off on my right foot and walk to the end of the ring, and turn around and...

Silent as a winter snow, Noelle crept behind me and walked across the ring with me. Surprise! Here I am, Mom.

WHAAAT! OMG, WHAT!

Command Discrimination, same problem. Walking behind me... Surprise!!

There is a break in the behavior chain. To create a strong behavior chain, each behavior in the chain needs a strong reinforcement history. A drop on recall exercise is a long behavior chain.

Get in heel position>Sit>Offer attention on Ready cue>Stay>recall on Here cue>Down on Spot cue>Recall on Front cue>Recall to front position>Sit>Stay>Finish>Sit.

Broken down, that's 12 behaviors with two different kinds of stay cues, one in front and one at heel, in a single behavior chain. Obviously, someone is making a mistake in our training and it's not Noelle.

Why is Noelle breaking her stay before both Command Discrimination and Drop on Recall? I know that Noelle has difficulty telling the difference between these two exercises. I know that Noelle likes being right and takes pride in her correct choices. I think she's hedging her bets because she's not sure what I want.

How to fix a broken behavior chain? Isolate each cue. Create smaller chains. Back chain where possible. Or, in other words, back to kindergarten we go. This is heel position. This is a ready cue. This is a stay cue. Sit is one cue that I tend to take for granted and I don't reinforce it enough. I think my next few training sessions are going to focus on stationary behaviors. Sit stay. Stand stay. Down stay. I need to make this much easier. Poor Noelle is confused.
 

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Discussion Starter #845
Today Noelle did the best heeling pattern in her life. My friend Kristin was calling the pace changes. Noelle stayed right with me, non breaking eye contact, smoothly moving at my side. It was wonderful! One of those breathtaking dog training moments. She did a lovely retrieve on the flat, a solid retrieve over the high jump. Broad jump, boing, front. Drop on recall, Here/SPOT/Front worked flawlessly. Then we got to command discrimination.

Stand. She stood. Down, she crept forward, Sit, she sat. Kristin suggested adding a stay cue first, then asking for a down. I said stay, Noelle stayed. I said down, no creeping. We'll use that extra stay cue for the next 50 repetitions. Then I'll drop the stay cue, and see if she just downs in place.

That was lovely! I felt like we were on the same wavelength in training today. We're getting close to trial ready with Open. Onward!
 

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Wonderful!
 
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Discussion Starter #847
The next thing I have to build has nothing to do with the exercises themselves, but ring choreography. If anyone knows of a seminar or webinar focusing on ring choreography, can you let me know? Noelle scratches her neck, or drifts off mentally between exercises. I need to learn how to keep her engaged for the fiddly bits between "Exercise finished." and "Are you ready?" Until we have that ironed out, the exercises might be trial ready, but I'm not sure our teamwork is trial ready.
 

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Click, I hear you on that exercise to exercise part of things. When I take my training with my instructor we often spend about 15-30 minutes working on those parts of the routine. Javelin is not a dog that can show up at the trial and get in the ring while turning on a dime. He needs lots of warm up before the ring call and I also have to stay on top of him to get him from exercise to exercise. I plan to work him tomorrow and will probably spend at least half an hour working the choreography. It is slow going to see improvement, but I do by just stopping anytime he looks away and telling him that wasn't right then restarting. I still use a fair amount of treats but am careful not to use the treats to lure, but to reward really good executions of the correct behaviors. This part of the routine is the main thing keeping me from entering at this point, but I don't want to make tons of NQ donations to various clubs. I want to go in three times and Q, title and move on. I wish I had a magic suggestion, but I know that you know as much as I do that there is no such magic. If you think about Brenda Aloff (and many other stellar trainer/handlers) to adequately proof a behavior requires thousands of correct executions (no mistakes) in as many different places as possible. Matches go a long way down this road.
 

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My instructor also says that in those times between "exercise finished" and "are you ready?" it is important to keep your dog engaged, but do so while moving to the next exercise. A steady nose touch to lead her to the next exercise will be scored as luring. But some happy "touch!" step step step "touch!" step step, "Oh look we're here at the next spot! Good girl!" You certainly may jolly her along verbally in between exercises, providing you can remember to only give necessary commands during the exercises.

But sheesh, be thankful you are not currently competing in UKC Utility. The ring is empty of equipment while you do signals, articles (one material), gloves (twice, in a baseball diamond pattern, which is the reason the jumps are out of the ring), and consecutive recalls (one drop, one straight). Then, before you can do the final exercise, you wait around while the stewards bring in the bar and high jumps and get them in place. Spend that time keeping the dog happy. Touch! Touch! Spin! Twirl! Set up, yes we're ready.
 

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I find I have to raise my energy level, I tell Babykins she did a good job, I give her a quick scratches or rumpling to physically keep connected as we walk to the next exercise. I walk with energy, I try to exude “fun” so she follows and is excited to set up.

When we do the exercises, I look only at my dog and not the judge, but I do concentrate on what the judge is saying so my focus is divided and I’m stressed. In between exercises I focus 100%on my dog.

I know someone who has trained her dog to stick to her index finger extended and in between exercises she sticks the finger out for her dog to follow it to the next set up position. She doesn’t speak or touch her dog.... just sticks her finger out. It works for her but it wouldn’t work for mine. I guess it’s luring but the judges never ding her. shes not holding her hand like she has a treat, and her other fingers not tucked into the palm, they are just held at a different angle.

I also see many people have their dogs spin after completing an exercise before the walk to the next to release energy. I don’t know if that has to be trained or if it’s a natural behavior. Babykins will spin on command for rally it she doesn’t seem to see it as fun. I see other dogs that love to spin and I think it’s a wonderful activity to do in between exercises.

I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that last step of waiting while the jumps are put in place In AKC. What a distraction!
 
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You have to know your dog well for the training/development of your exercise to exercise movements. Javelin will spin but it makes him go into orbit so no spinning. He will do a nose touch but if I do too many he is back in orbit. There is a small sweet spot for him that keeps his attention but doesn't leave room for disconnecting. I put my left hand out just slightly forward of where he needs to be so he has to look up to stay with me and my pace has to be fast enough to keep him with me but not as fast as his heeling fast. And if I amble that will be the kiss of death. I think if I could read his mind he would be telling me I am boring and that I should step things up. He will grab my hand to get me going (not good) or he will take off to visit the judge (even more a not good).
 
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Discussion Starter #853
Noelle clearly knows the exercises. What she doesn't know is what to do when it's not an exercise. The more I think about it, the fiddly bits are as much a part of a trial as chasing a dumbbell. So, I need to train a fiddly bit. Noelle is a worrier. The moment I take her leash off in the ring, she pauses to scratch. She is not itchy. She is stressed. I know this because I trained without a collar last Sunday and she still scratched her neck.

Leash off, scratch, scratch, scratch... Noelle, get in. More scratching. More scratching. Noelle, get in... Noelle gets into heel position. This, my friends, is a behavior chain. Leash off-->Scratching-->ignore cue-->Scratching-->Work. How to rid myself of the scratching?

P+ -- Firmly pull collar while she is scratching and tell her to stop.
P- -- Leave the ring while she is scratching and ignore her.
R- ?? (I never train in this quadrant. Removing unpleasant stimulus to increase behavior.)
R+ -- Train an alternative stress reliever behavior chain.

Likely outcome of P+. Noelle is unsure what to do and scratching to relieve stress. My yanking her collar and scolding her is going to increase stress and create a new displacement behavior, e.g. ring sniffing.

Likely outcome of P-. Noelle is unsure what to do and scratching to relieve stress. My leaving the ring will increase her stress. Same as before, new displacement behavior.

That leaves me with R+, as usual. When in doubt, reach for positive reinforcement. But, what do I positively reinforce? Noelle is always stressed and worried when we enter the ring, and she's unsure of herself in the fiddly bits. Tomorrow, I'm training what goes in the fiddly bits. A new behavior chain of enter the ring, leash off, , finish left, heel three steps, sit. Same routine after each exercise. Exercise finished, praise and pat Noelle, ___, finish left, heel three steps, sit.

Tomorrow I'll see what fits in the blank. It must reduce stress by being fun, fast, and above all else, predictable. Humans and dogs alike find reassurance in the predictable. My dog deserves that reassurance. So do I.
 

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Don't give her the chance to stress. Pair removing the leash with a piece of chicken. Pop it in her mouth as you unhook the leash and then immediately ask for a behavior that she enjoys. I know you are setting up to do something else, but I think you need to break the pattern of whatever is stressing her by making what comes right after removing the leash into a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #856
I think the only way I could prevent Noelle from stressing is to leave her at home. I've paired food with leash removal. Toys with leash removal. Tricks with leash removal. She ignores what I have, because scratching is more high value than anything I have to offer. At this point, I am considering putting scratching on cue.

You know how we train dogs the look at that, game? LAT reinforces the dog for looking at a distracting thing, while simultaneously redirecting attention back to handler. The brilliance of this game is not lost on me. Instead of pulling the dog away, ordering the dog to pay attention, LAT flips the rules. The dog most desires to look at the distraction. By reinforcing the LAT cue, the dog wins by doing what she most desired to do in the first place. Yet, at the same time, the connection between dog and handler remains unbroken.

If scratching is a clickable trick, it can serve two purposes simultaneously: stress relief, yes, but we're still connected because I asked for a trick. I reinforce her for doing what she most desires in the first place. Any time I can figure out how to flow with what Noelle is doing is a win for both of us. Right now, I feel like we're on different wavelengths. I keep trying to get her to tune into mine. I wonder what would happen if I tuned in to Noelle's wavelength?
 

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Click, how do you reach for her leash? Most people competing just reach down to the collar and fumble their hands around trying to fin the hook to release.

One of my trainers taught use to run our hand down the leash smoothly to the hook. if you aren’t doing this, maybe it can be part of the change?
 

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Discussion Starter #858
Noelle, sit.
I'm sitting square in heel.
Noelle, wait.
I'm waiting.
Dumbbell toss.
Noelle, get!
Dumbbell! My favorite! Whee! I'm running like my tail is on fire to the dumbbell. And now that I'm close enough to lick the dumbbell I... sniff the floor. I think there was a boxer here. Oh, and a corgi. Hmm, this smells like a... a... is that a Bouvier des Flandres? Let me check. Yes, it really is a Bouvier des Flandres.

Facepalm!

She started doing this about a month ago and her retrieves gradually got slower, and slower, and slower and... facepalm. I've got some ideas how to fix this. We're training in the morning. I'll keep you posted.
 

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Sorry, this post made me laugh! Noelle is a natural nosework dog.
haha, you might as well join us in the nosework fun.

There’s a game you can play that might fix this. I used it to get Babykins to stop pawing at the dumbbell when I wanted her to pick it up immediately in her mouth to return. Have Noelle sit at heel. Toss a treat. I trained Babykins to look at me after I toss the dumbbell before I send her, so I expect this same behavior for tossed treats, but you do what your routine is. Send Noelle for the treat then call her front and finish her. Repeat the food toss, send, front to finish. Toss your dumbbell. Running out for food has refocused Noelle to run out, put something in her mouth and return.
 
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