Well I finally joined an obedience club the only problem is it's an hour away. My classes (novice) are on Thursday nights and the have a club night on Wednesday night. Last night I went and the only one there other than myself was my instructor. She had her camcorder with her and she video taped Magnum and I. Hopefully we do a pretty good job. Still alot of things to work on, butshe thinks that I should start entering some trials. There are a couple of matches that I will try. Any advice for figure 8's and stand for examination.
Sounds good Emilu and I travel over an hour and a half to get to our class. Right now I am taking 2 classes a week, or go twice a week for the meeting and a class. I am going to drop the one class because it is killing me to be gone so much and so late. Will you always be the only one, or very few dogs in the class? My first obedience class was from a private lady closer to me and we were almost only the only ones there. Nice for individual attention, but Emilu needed to be around other dogs to get used to them, and for proofing and stuff. It's also nice to see what other people and their dogs are doing. Are you having any particular trouble with the 8' s or stand for exam? We can give suggestions easier if we know where you're getting hung up. Good luck and HAVE FUN!!!
When teaching F8, exaggerate both turns...very slow on the left turn and RUN on the right turn. I also use treats to get the dog to drive around the right turn and thru the center (toss the treat ahead of them). I also use my shoulders to cue the dog for the turn (left shoulder back for the left, forward for the right). I really exaggerate this movement when teaching the F8 then gradually fade it until it is very subtle.
You should also work on your footwork without the dog at first, then add the dog. Your pace needs to be constant thruout the F8. The dog is the one that has to change pace. This is very important. Put your left arm out to circle the left post. This is the distance you should be from that post (you won't put your arm out during a trial...this is just to show you how far you need to be away from the post). Now put your right arm out and circle the right post. This is the distance you should be from that post. If you go too close or too wide you are putting the dog at a disadvantage because they have to work that much harder. For footwork, use your normal stride for the left turn but switch to heel/toe for the right turn (remember to keep your pace the same though).
SFE - the most important thing to remember is to start and end in heel position. This is your only job in this exercise. The rest is up to the dog. Once the dog is standing taking a moment to make sure the dog is standing square, move yourself into heel position (if you need to move) then give the stay command. Do not give the stay command first. When you return to the dog make sure you move all the way back into heel position. Also, something many people do not know is that the dog does not have to start this exercise in the sit position. The exercise does not start until you leave your dog. Many times I started Murray already standing. If you happen to run into a judge that says you must sit your dog, don't stress, just do as they ask but most know that the sit is not required.
One good thing to teach before the stand for exam is the sit for exam. You perform it the same way you do the stand for exam but it is easier for the dog to maintain position and it is easier for you to correct.. Always correct for the smallest movements of feet on both the sit for exam and the stand for exam. This will also give you a better more solid Group sit. Use alot of different people that aren't scared of dogs. Petsmart or feed stores etc...are good places to practice.
For the figure 8 you need to learn your footwork for a really good F8. You need to do it the same way everytime. The stewards/poles will be almost exactly 8 feet apart at any show (the judges usually measure and mark the stewards position). You should qount how many steps you take and make that the same (they won't be the same for each 1/2 of the figure 8 because you have the dog on the inside or outside). This is the one exercise that is really quite harder than it appears.
Other general things are speed on your heeling paterns, walk briskly and your dog will have to pay more attention to you in the ring. Its almost impossible to walk to fast for a labrador that is in good shape. It is also better to walk like you have a pupose and are almost ignoring the dog.
There are a bunch of training tips that I am sure your instructor will give you and you can pick up alot by watching good teams and watch what they do in the ring.
I was trying to think of some things that helped us with the figure 8 with Emilu. Many dogs have a tendency to "lag" as they go around the cone (or person) with the dog on the outside. I tried several things to get Emilu to go faster - leash pops, saying "hurry", going faster myself as we head toward, and around the cone, etc. I finally decided to "lure her" with a treat, really fast, around the cone. I decided that she would just learn that "that's the way you do figure 8's" - you go fast around the cone. We did it over a over, quit luring and started treating as she came arond the cone, then started treating sporadically. Make sure you aren't inadvertently looking back at them and turning your shoulder back as you try to hurry them up - your body language will slow them down. If you have one of those dogs that tend to forge ahead of you, start your figure 8 with the dog on the outside of the cone. If your dog tends to lag, start with them on the inside of the cone. (You get to pick which way you want to start)
We're still working on "stand for exam" We need to find a firm signal that she understands and I am clear about. You can "place your dog" in Novice, but I don't want to do that - they can learn to stand as well as they do anything else. We started with teaching the stand, and then doing "walk-arounds", which is how my first instructor taught everything. When you could walk around them 3 times without them moving, you could start standing in front, etc. What point are you at with your "stand for exam"?