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Discussion Starter #881
I had zero luck teaching a leaping flip finish. I discovered Noelle doesn't jump with all four feet off the ground. It's just not something she likes to do. She'll give a lovely hug, but not a leap.

Today I took Noelle to work. I teach manners class at 11:45 Sunday mornings, so getting to work at 10:30 gives me an empty building, empty ring, and loads of time. Thursday afternoons, we train in a ring with nose work classes happening on the opposite side of the ring gate. Nose work dogs are often reactive and barking, and there are a lot of people, and dogs in crates. It's chaotic like a trial. This way, Noelle practices obedience in a quiet room and a very loud one. Low distraction and high distraction is the best of both worlds. I use my quiet time to teach and my loud time to proof.

Anyhow, this morning, I decided to isolate scratching to see if I could figure out:
A.) Exactly when it happens
B.) The antecedents
C.) Alternative behavior

Noelle was on leash, offering attention before going in the ring. We went in the ring. I reached to take off Noelle's leash, and she scratched. Antecedents? Ring entry and leash removal. Consequence? We left the ring. Set up again, same thing ring entry, scratch, leave. We did that about four times. On the fifth try, I took Noelle's leash off without a scratching fit. I clicked and treated. A light went off inside her head. It was adorable. Oh, don't scratch! Okay.

We repeated this sequence. However, instead of clicking, I took off Noelle's leash and gave her neck and chest a scratch. Then I stroked her face. Then I asked if she was ready. She was, so we did some heeling. I learned a lot about my dog during this training session. Noelle appreciates a slower transition between sitting in heel position, and, "Are you ready?" Two or three seconds of chest scratching and face stroking, followed by my changing my stance into work position, made a huge impact.

Today instead of scratching as a displacement behavior, she shook herself as if she was wet once, and then was ready to go. Given a choice between ring sniffing, scratching, and a quick full body shake, the full body shake is way better. "Shake it off," is a cue Noelle knows, too. Displacement behavior is how dogs communicate stress, so I think it's unfair to remove that communication. At the same time, it's unfair when I fail to acknowledge her stress and do what I can to head it off. The sequence of gentle scratching, face stroking, posture change, worked well. She didn't scratch during training. Now that I know that my change in behavior prevents scratching, I can incorporate it into our training.

We were practicing fronts and finishes. Just to see what would happen, I decided to verbally tell her to finish and held my arms still. First time Noelle swung into heel, making a u-turn at my side. The second time, she backed into heel. The third time she finished right. I started laughing when she chose to finish right. I wasn't expecting that at all. I think Noelle was laughing, too. Three different ways to finish, all correct, and all three were Noelle's choice. That's a fun exercise. I suggest you try it with your dog. Showing off three ways to finish was the most poodle thing ever. Finish means this, and this, oh yeah, and this, too!

I picked a different area of the ring to practice command discrimination. I have to work on anticipating the sit. I'm still happy she understands what comes next. It sure beats standing on the opposite side of the ring, calling out, "Sit!" and getting a blank stare. Honestly, she only anticipated once and I didn't reward it. Second time she got it perfect. We'll keep practicing. On Thursday, I deliberately set her up to do command discrimination beside the nose work ring gate, with her back to all the crates and people. She nailed it the first time.

Last week, I introduced the middle glove. This week, all three gloves were out. I sent her to the left glove. She went to the middle glove. I put the middle glove back and said nothing. Set up again, again she grabbed the middle glove. Nothing happened. I put the glove back. I sent her to the left glove a third time. Third time she grabbed the left glove. Noelle won an extended tug time with Mr. Fox and a ton of praise. Next, I sent her to the right glove. No hesitation, directly to the right glove, party time again. I sent her to the middle glove. No hesitation, and another extended party time. We worked on gloves some more after that. She never got the wrong glove again.

By making a massive reward out of the correct choice, and the wrong choice being silent and boring, she's making right choices faster. Behold the power of P-. Remove what the dog wants to decrease behavior. Noelle wants to play tug. Wrong choice, no Mr. Fox. Right choice, a whole lot of tug. It's false to say positive reinforcement trainers don't use punishment. During gloves, I punished Noelle a whole lot. It decreased picking up the wrong glove. It increased the speed of getting the right glove. I now have child sized gloves, which aren't any fun to shake. Obviously, I don't play tug with the glove. OMG, that would be a disaster with Noelle! She likes the glove exercise. I can tell because of the way she shoots out toward it at warp speed. I have not introduced glove turns. That will happen late spring, possibly early summer. Get the glove I am pointing at is far more important than the turns.

Noelle's drop on recall is far smoother since I changed cues. And her understanding of the broad jump is now solid. Her front is no longer crooked. I didn't do anything to fix her front. She just figured out what I wanted. And today I figured out what she wanted. Get into heel position, get a gentle scratch on the chest, around the collar, and behind the ears. Stroke her face gently. Stand tall, breathe. Wait for eye contact. "Ready!" This sequence is what Noelle needs. I'm glad I learned from her today. And three different ways to finish? Show off!
 

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Discussion Starter #882
Noelle had her first Open run-through today. One of my rally students acted as judge. Mary knows her stuff when it comes to obedience and has shown through Utility. Very handy to have a student like that. Anyhoo... Noelle was a little laggy on heeling, did lovely about turns, got lost on the figure 8 and decided sniffing cones would be more interesting, and ended up on my right once. Facepalm. Ugly, a bazillion points off, but qualifying.

Command discrimination, stand, she stood. Down, she ignored the down cue, so I double cued her and NQ'd, nailed the sit, though. (Mary set Noelle up with the wide open ring gate behind her for maximum distraction. Hooray for Mary! Whoopsie for Noelle.)

Drop on recall. Flying forward, speedy drop (without a target! Yay!) came to front, beautiful finish.

Retrieve on the flat, raced out for the dumbbell, got it, raced back.

Retrieve over a high jump, boing, ran past Mary, got the dumbbell, jumped, came back.

Broad jump, cut the corner, WT*??? Came to front.

Stand stay get your leash. Stood, and stayed.

Well, now I know what to practice on Sunday. Mary can do an Open run-through every Thursday. I hope we do better next week. I'm thinking about trialing in April, assuming I can find a Covid vaccine. Here in Illinois, I'm considered a frontline worker because I work in animal care. Our recent snow storms have slowed vaccine distribution to a crawl, unfortunately. Hopefully, by April I'm fully vaccinated and ready to rock. And hopefully by April Noelle will be ready to rock, too. CDX here we come.
 

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Discussion Starter #883
We brushed up on Command Discrimination and the broad jump. I'll see how that turns out during our Thursday run-through. Tonight I worked on stuff I take for granted: finding heel position, Ready and eye contact, and fronts. Noelle enjoyed it. Or, maybe she enjoyed that I had cheese. I made it fun by throwing cheese, turning my back and calling her to heel. Or, throwing cheese and calling her to front.

Question, is it points off or an NQ if the dog cuts the corner on the broad jump? I'm trying to fix this. Most of the time she doesn't cut the corner, but if she did in a trial, is that an NQ?
 

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/snip/
Question, is it points off or an NQ if the dog cuts the corner on the broad jump? I'm trying to fix this. Most of the time she doesn't cut the corner, but if she did in a trial, is that an NQ?
If the dog cuts the corner so much that she doesn't clear the last board, it is not qualifying. If it's just off center, I wouldn't point it. I've been NQ'd when from my point of view the dog was just off center but the judge's opinion was that he didn't clear the last board.

If it makes a difference to the dog, whether clearing the jump or coming to a straight front, you can place yourself anywhere between the first and last boards.
 
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Discussion Starter #885
She's landing a bit off center. I'll have to video it to see what's happening because I'm standing at the side and can't really see. She used to cut the corner quite badly, then stopped doing that and jumped across the center. But, Noelle can revert to something incorrect under stress, and the run through put her under stress.
 

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She's landing a bit off center. I'll have to video it to see what's happening because I'm standing at the side and can't really see. She used to cut the corner quite badly, then stopped doing that and jumped across the center. But, Noelle can revert to something incorrect under stress, and the run through put her under stress.
Just taking the jump a little off center seems (to me, anyway) to lead to points off for crooked fronts rather than points off for not being centered. Cutting the corner is more binary--Q or NQ.

Good luck!
 

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That’s an interesting question and one that I realize never came up in my class where our trainers usually nitpicked about details like this.

I have seen dogs NQ for cutting the corner and it was clear their body didn’t completely sail over the last board. I’ve seen dogs NQ for walking on the boards which is an obvious no no.

From AKC “The principal features of this exercise are that the dog stay where left until directed to jump, that the dog clear the jump on a single command or signal, and that the dog return to its handler after it has jumped.” Maybe as long as the dog cleanly clears the boards it doesn’t matter where they land? In our class the focus was on that perfect front position and not cutting the corner.
 
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Remember to proof with pressure, since that might result in cutting the corner in ring conditions.

Best of luck! Are there any trials on your calendar yet? I'm not planning to enter Neely in AKC any more, unless there's a club I want to support. I actually have a few more UKC obedience and rally opportunities at the moment. UKC added a Master class and three new champion levels with QQQs in Levels 2, 3, and Master. He seems to enjoy rally so I'll keep doing that with him. Neely and Hobbes both ended up on UKC's Rally All Stars list for 2020, so I'm very happy with what we were able to do during the pandemic year.
 

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Discussion Starter #891
There's a trial in late April I am considering. I'll be getting the Pfizer vaccine next Wednesday (YAY!) and fully vaccinated by the end of March. Late April gives me some time to go to a few fun matches, or drop in practice at a few clubs near me. Command discrimination remains the uh-oh. I deliberately set Noelle up to do drop on recall along the busy side of the ring gate yesterday. She knew exactly what I wanted and did it perfectly. But... refused to sit during command discrimination. I need to practice that more in different places. If she's gonna blow something during a trial, that would be what she screws up. On the plus side, Noelle did rally without stopping to scratch. We're getting somewhere.
 

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That sounds like a very smart plan.

I found it interesting that the dogs in my class either had trouble laying down in the command discrimination (my problem with Babykins) or more commonly they had problem with the sit. No dog had a problem with both - it was one or the other. I can be anywhere in the room, any angle, off center and she will sit, but the laying down smartly was our problem. My trainer did say the sit was a more common problem but she didn't have any specific solutions except to keep practicing. Noelle is smart, she will get it.
 
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Discussion Starter #893
I think the problem with sit in general is I take it for granted and rarely remember to reinforce it. Front has a heavy reinforcement history. Heel, too. Plain vanilla sit? Not so much.

My Sunday plan is treat tossing and position changes. Sit, down, stand, front and heel. Should be a fun time. Less formal setups, more frolic, with the occasional formal run through sprinkled in.
 

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Yay for you, Click, for getting the vaccine! I had my second Moderna shot last Friday and my arm is still a little sore, but that was really the worst of it. I think I got off pretty easy, compared to other people's experience with their second Moderna shot.
 

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Down is hardest for many dogs because it is the most vulnerable position. If they are worried and want to leave it takes more work to break that position than any of the others. I agree with Marguerite that your proofing should make things harder than a trial without being insane. I am happy to hear you folks are getting vaccines. It is really hard to get appointments in my neck of the woods still.
 

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Discussion Starter #896
I'm going to spend a lot of time proofing all aspects of command discrimination. The stand, we have solid. Down is a maybe and sit is a probably. Last Sunday, I reinforced the down, and lost the sit on Thursday. We'll just have to keep working at it. I think spending time with position changes and treat chasing will be fun for Noelle. I need to remember to have fun.
 

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Catherine, I hope you can get vaccinated soon. It was a full time job getting my appointment, both my husband and I worked at it. It should not be that hard, but sadly it is and will be until there’s excess vaccine.

I’m thrilled that Click and Marguerite have gotten vaccinated. The more people I know who are, the more relieved I feel.

Click, we always worked sit, down and stand randomly. My one trainer felt that for some people it was smarter to enter Open B because you may start with the fun exercises instead of heeling. We were prepared for Open A or B. Randomly switching them around helps clarify each command.
 

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There is no guarantee that you will get a "fun order" in open B. I tried that with Lily for utility. I don't think it helped her. She did not seem to like not knowing what would be next in the order of exercises. I certainly always train out of the A sequences, including the open commands.
 

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Discussion Starter #899
Noelle senses patterns and gets rattled when things are out of order. I think Open B would confuse her unnecessarily. Tomorrow will be a treat throwing party time for her. I want position changes to be fun, not stressful.
 

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While UKC added more titling classes in the revisions effective at the first of the year, what they did not do is add other exercise orders to any class. However, there are four orders for the versatility class, but it's a non-titling class and clubs are not required to offer it. They did get rid of out-of-sight stays, so maybe we'll get more interest in the venues.
 
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