We just finished our first Rally title (as most of you know ) and now will be working towards Rally Advanced and Novice Obdience. I feel that Emilu is really just starting to "get it". The instructor says that she needs to know that it is her job to do this stuff and it can't just be when Emilu wants to. She is a smart dog and can learn, but I tend to be a little soft on her cuz I think she can't take it. Right now I'm just kinda confused. It seems like there is so much to keep working on, but I want her to get some if it really good so it's automatic. I'm also feeling overwhelmed with everything. Everytime I read a good idea here I think we should try it, but I'm getting overwhelmed with all the possibilities. What would you recommend? Short work-outs just concentrating on a couple of things? Going for one or two things, but in a variety of settings - like a good sit, doing other things but incoorporating a good sit into everything else in the same lesson? I don't feel I've explained this very well, but hopefully you get my jist. Just need a little guidence into how to best continue training without feeling overwhelmed. (maybe I just need more sleep)
I sort of have a haphazard way of training....I just go out and think up rally courses in my mind and try them.* If Zeke messes up on a part, then thats what I will focus on for that day.* Or, if he doesn't mess up but its just not "quality" I'll pick my least favorite aspect and focus on that.* But I'll also throw in is favorite exercises so that he'll remain interested.
For example, I was practicing one weekend and he kept doing an auto-down instead of a sit at heel.* It was because I practiced the moving down a whole lot.* So, I focused on getting my auto-sit back.* It frustrated him, so after every couple tries I'd let him to a left* finish(he loves them) or tug on a toy or something.*
Once that was fixed he started doing the moving down sideways....but I managed to fix that too, lol.* Apparently all those problems were related to me giving conflicting signals by accident.* I need to learn to keep my hands STILL if* I am not giving a hand signal :P
On second thought, I don't think its quite haphazard, but I usually don't start training with a clear idea of what I want to accomplish (unless I am training a new thing).
Zeke RN, agility miscreant and CGC failure
The things I train first are the things that are most important to me. I want my dog to have a rock solid stay so we do alot of work on stays. I hate a dog that pulls on the leash so we worked alot on that. I really want perfect sits front and finishes so we do that. Some of the things that I do are for future things we will do like teaching a forced retrieve we are going to use for tracking and utility articles. And somethings we train because she is really good at them and loves doing them recalls. And somethings we train just for the fun of it for me like "right" and "left" dog turns in that direction. And somethings we train as a reward for other training (field work).
You just have to decide what is most important for you. Also somethings can be trained in nonformal training sessions. When we go for walks everytime I stop she must get into perfect sit heel position,she mustn't pull on the leash. when we heel she must do everything correctly. before we go out our door she has to get in perfect heel sit position and can't move till given an OK. When I eat she has to hold a down. I often do "Commercial dog training" where you teach or train something during commercials on TV. I think it is all the little 10 second training that makes the biggest difference in somethings.
Kelly G and Amber RN CGC
First of all, one of the goals of Rally was to have something to help prepare for the CD. So, once a dog has an RE it should be ready to get a CD.
Second, someone suggested to me of keeping a log each month of when and where I work Caleb and what I work on. This has helped me a whole lot to not only focus on what I need to work on but see what I have slacked in working on. This really helped with the confusion on what to work on and monitor what I have worked on. I really balked at first but now I just cannot imagine not logging my work sessions. Terrific aid!
I do a lot of behavior modification with food. But, once they have an idea I do wean the food out and sometimes I do have to give a correction. I also have to learn to read my dog to know when they are truly confused and when they are just trying to get my goat and not wanting to work. One top handler/instructor once said that his training sessions don't really begin until the dog makes some type of mistake and then he works until he gets some break through.
UCDX GRCH Dunn's Marsh Caleb of Waltona UDX3, OM3, RAE Canadian UD, RE
FallRiver's Micah of Waltona GN RAE, Canadian CD, RN
You need to set goals for each session. By that I mean if you are working on faster recalls then don't sweat the slightly crooked sit because your goal for this session is a faster recall. Work on the sits separately. The typical scenario is that the dog starts doing the faster recall then we correct for the slightly crooked sit and we blow any success we had going with the recall to that point.
Plan to work on only 1 or 2 new items early in the session when the dog is fresh then finish with the things Emilu knows best. It's a real confidence builder for the dog to finish on a positive note.
I also do not drill the dog over and over. We do our exercises 1 or 2 times. If they do it correctly the first time, we do not repeat it. We train for about 15 minutes every day. That doesn't leave a lot of time for drilling. ;D
For Rally, we practice a couple of signs specifically, then I set up a course that uses those signs. Again, I focus only on perfecting those specific signs.
I highly recommend making your own set of signs. You can print the signs off in color from the Rally website files section http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Rally-obed/files/ Get them laminated. Buy some soccer cones from Target and some small binder clips from Staples and you have your very own rally course for under $30. The rally forum files section also offers some courses and training exercises. There is also a quarterly magazine called Go Rally which also offers some training exercises. Really anyone can make up a course though. You don't need to use someone else's but it can be a good place to start then start switching out signs (ie use the course map from the last trial you entered and switch some of the signs to ones you want to work on).
With my male, I just keep reinforcing heeling. He KNOWS the exercises, but he's a slow-poke. The ONLY time I get his attention is after a short (1-2 minute session) with the e-collar on. Yup, I know, not a favorite with the softies. But after that the collar comes off and he's like "oh crap, mom is serious" and then we can do a good 10-15 minute session-off leash-and he's paying attention, we get the heels good, the attention, the straight fronts and left finishes...
With Maddy, I practice the excercises she needs the most work on. Perfection is nice, but we've got alot of stuff to work out first. Thought I do want perfection from Maddy, she can do it. I'll be happy with Q's with Hud, regardless of the score.
Just wanted to say I know how you feel. I feel that way too sometimes...like, "Um, why are we here and what are we doing?"
I have been focusing mostly on Rally lately. Like Susan said, it was introduced to help bridge the gap between getting a CGC and a CD. I can TOTALLY see how it works, too. For one thing, before we started doing Rally, Angus' left turns were super weak. There are so many 360s, 270s, etc. in Rally that he's gotten to practice a lot. Now his left turn in a heeling pattern is much better! I guess what Rally does is teach us beginners how to "doodle." (I think it was Lydia who observed this...?)
So anyway, our plan is to keep going with Rally for a while. Then by the time we get to Advanced or Excellent, I will know that he is ready to go for his CD.
We also keep our sessions really short. 15 minutes for each boy. Always leaves them wanting more I spend some time on the front teaching anything new or working on problem areas. But my problem is, I often have a hard time limiting myself to one problem area! I often find myself thinking, "Should I be working on X instead? Should I also be working on X at the same time?" Very confusing.
The last five minutes or so we just go over everything he knows - or as much of it as we have time for. I always *try* to end with something like spin or take a bow or sit pretty or weave through my legs, something that's just a game and he knows it.
I don't know if any of this really answers your question :P Just felt like chatting!
Connie and "The Boys":
Angus, Yellow Lab, CGC, RE, CD
Simon, d.b.a. Flat Coated Retriever, CGC, RE, CD
Gone ahead, but forever in my heart:
Crash, Pit Bull x Rottweiler x Golden Retriever
What separates the good trainers from the OK trainers is their ability to split each exercise into little bits and isolate the bits. If for example, we are working on the recall and reward the front, we will lose all the stuff in the middle that doesn't get reinforced...the wait, eye contact during the recall, speed of recall, path of recall, etc. Always break each exercise into bits and work on the bits, don't always lump them together.
So if you are working on recalls today, you can decide which part of the recall you want to work on. If you want to work on attention while she is sitting, you can play games for that. If you want to work on eye contact during the recall, reward her for that and break it off before the front. If you want to work on fronts, work on fronts, but don't make them part of the recall, just do scoot fronts or wagon wheels or whatever.
But have a plan when you practice...practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
Why does obedience need to be a job for her? You can take a game very seriously...anyone who doubts this has never played golf If the reward for doing each exercise is sufficient, the reliability is almost built in. Do you think that field trial trainers spend a lot of time proofing their dogs? Very little, because the urge to get the bird is so strong that there is little in the way of distractions that can take them off the bird.
To quote Sylvia Bishop, the first thing you need to to with obedience training is "create the want". Make each exercise and the time she spends with you so valuable that she doesn't want to do anything else. If you do this, you too will find that you have to spend very little time proofing and telling your dog that she has to, simply because she wants to and chooses to. This makes the behaviours much more reliable.
The drawback with introducing too many corrections (especially before there is an adequate reinforcement history), is that she will be afraid of novel situations and this is why many dogs who are trained with compulsion have to be so heavily proofed. Think about it, if we correct our dogs for doing the wrong thing, we make then afraid to try for fear of correction. So when faced with novel challenges, many dogs trained with coercion simply shut down whereas dogs trained with reward based methods will keep trying, making for a more reliable obedience dog, not to mention a happier one.
Now, if down the road you want to use coercion, that is fine and many, many people do it with good results. Regardless of whether you are a reward based or more traditional trainer, you need to first create the want. If you can do that, everything else will fall into place. If she is just starting to 'get it', I would wait until she really gets it before making this a job and not a game. If you make it fun enough, it will never become a job to her and you will both enjoy the training more.
If you need help with games, let me know and I have a ton of them
To err is human:To forgive, canine."
I kept a training log for Kona when I started training for Open and Utility to get a handle on what I wanted to work on (which exercises and what parts of them) and where he was each time we trained. I used a steno notebook that gave me 2 sides to work with. When you're training you need to be ready to reward your dog when he/she does a part of the exercise correctly, worked through some confusion or distraction and not go on to the end of the exercise. As Dana was saying to work parts of the exercises, I have found with Kona that that approach teaches your dog and build his/her confidence.
With a training log you can also look back and see where you were and how far you and your dog have come in your training.
"In moments of joy all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag." W. H. Auden
Linda, Kona and Bo