Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Get Close

On Sunday, Reagan and I attended a small, local seminar with Kathryn Willis. Kathryn has been training and competing in Dog Obedience for 15 years. Her Golden Retrievers have been nationally ranked for the last five years and have qualified for five National Obedience Invitationals. Kathryn has earned 3 Obedience Trial Championships, a perfect score of 200, over 50 High in Trials, and over 50 High Combined awards..... and best of all, Kathryn uses clicker training.

The seminar focused mostly on teaching the dog that he/she has a rear end, how to move the rear end, and where the rear end should be (something Riley, pictured above, needs a lot of help with). The difference between a nice obedience performance and a great obedience performance often comes down to straight fronts and finishes and a good heel position. With 4 legs, its easy to forget where the rear is and to let it drift off to the side. Kathryn taught us several "doodles" to help explain the rear end to the dog.

The first "doodle" (shown below) is teaching the dog to move into heel position or "get close" (dog is parallel to handler's left side). I have always been in a bad habit of asking my greyhound to sit and then positioning myself parallel to my dog (except with Katie, somehow I managed to explain to her how to move her rear end). With finishes (dog returns to heel position and sits next to the handler at the end of each exercise), it was always hit or miss. I would get credit for my dog's effort at finishing, but would lose points for the sit not being parallel or straight.

This is not the most interesting video clip, but I have to say I was quite thrilled to see how just twisting my hand with a treat and stepping back with my left foot encouraged my dog to move her rear into a more parallel position. You start by clicking and treating just a small side step, but eventually require a move into correct heel position.

11 comments:

Stephen said...

Crap, and here I thought Riley was making a bee-line for the B++ team.

BrittBeah said...

That is pretty cool and so simple. I always try to bite off more then Dan and I can chew at once. I need to remind myself little steps make for great leaps.

Anna said...

Stephen, it looks like Riley just may make the A team after all! She looks greyt. Reagan looks like a natural, of course. Keep up the good work, Jen. :-)

Barb said...

Very nice!
This is one of the reasons I like Rally so much... lots of doodling exercises!

doberkim said...

so i am extremely intrigued by what else was discussed at the seminar, so tell tell tell!!! what other words of wisdom was shared for hind end awareness????? straight fronts and such are my dogs worst issues, and ive been looking for more help...

Maria Peters said...

That is the cutest picture of Riley...look at that black nosie!!!

Pam said...

12 years ago (arrrgh!), when I was taking Isaac to lessong with Dee Zurburg, we worked HARD on "Get Close". Dee's method was very similar to what you are doing, but we didn't use a clicker. (Clicker training was in its infancy.)

Next time I see you, remind me to show you how Dee and I turned the "Get Close" doodle into a very flashy and usually precise leaping finish. Isaac really enjoyed it and it became a great stress reliever for him at the end of any exercise where he had to sit in front, then finish in heel position.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Don't worry, Doberkim. I'll show more doodles :-). It really worked so much better than I would have thought. And if you use a clicker, its so quick to mark the first little side steps that lead to big side steps. But you also don't have to use a clicker.

Riley still teeters between B+ and A-. She is a silly one.

Jen

Maureen said...

Thanks for the clip and explanation. Glad to see you are using clicker training!

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited to have found your blog. I have two rescue Greyhound crosses (more Greyhound than not). Pilot (Grey x Rhodesian) is two and a half and we have just muddled our way through to passing Basic level two obedience and start agility in two weeks. Pilot and Ava's(Greyhound x Whippet x Staghound - probably 8/10ths Greyhound - 10 months old) finishes have always been terrible, but just getting them to do what I want is celebrated as a huge win. No Greyhounds at the club, mostly working dogs with different challenges to ours. I feel confident we can get some beautiful finishes now. Just have to start from scratch and introduce them and me to clicker training. I'm excited about the challenge and think we'll have even more fun with your methods. Sorry Pilot, your my screw up dog!) thanks again for sharing your wonderful experiences and giving us hope and confidence (we may have been told Pilot would never pass basic two 5 attempt was the pass, we both like to prove people wrong) :D thanks Ally (sorry for long post, just sooooo excited)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks, Ally. Nice compliment. Good luck with your hounds.