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Obedience Training

(Part 3 of 6) by Doreen Gray

Welcome back!

This time we will be working on the turns. So far we have been heeling in a straight line and working on the automatic sit. IF YOUR DOG DOES NOT HEEL IN POSITION, ADJUST SPEEDS, OR SIT AUTOMATICALLY, DO NOT GO ON. Back up, and work on this, for this is your foundation. If your foundation is weak, you will never have a well trained dog.

RIGHT TURN

Set your sights on a place where you plan to turn. As you start your pre-planned turn, tell the dog "hurry" and turn right. Did the dogís head/shoulder stay even? If so, PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE! If not, now is the time to figure out what happened.

Did the dog forge (go too fast) and get ahead? If so, there are two possible reasons.

  1. Your dog gets too excited by the "hurry" command. If that seems to be the case, then you should reduce the excitement in your voice a little and try again.
  2. Your dog is in the wrong position to begin with and believes this IS the correct position. This isnít all that hard of a problem, but you MUST correct it before it become ingrained.

The best way to correct the dog IF the above does NOT work is to do a VERY FAST about turn and go in the opposite direction!

REMEMBER TO "ROUND" THE CORNERS. THIS IS NOT A MILITARY TURN!

Did the dog lag? (get behind?) The easy way to correct this is to let the lead go snugly across the left leg and just as you turn, take a lunging step with your left leg. This will "jerk" the dog into position. The momentum of the leg makes the correction, NOT the hands.

I must mention, do NOT bore the dog and repeat ANY exercise over and over. Throw in things that the dog knows well to keep him interested AND to give him success. If the dog repeatedly fails, he will have no incentive to try. THIS MUST BE FUN FOR THE ANIMAL! Do not go on unless you get consistently good turns.

LEFT TURN

You will set up your turn to the left the same way that you did the right, with a plan. As you start the turn, tell the dog "easy" and turn. Did everything go well? Did the dog crowd? If he did, the correction for this would be to use an UPWARD pop on the lead just as he starts to crowd. This gives the effect of a pause, giving you the time to turn. Perhaps the dog doesnít know "easy" well enough. If not, BACK-UP!

WIDE TURNING PROBLEM

For a wide RIGHT turn, I do something "unconventional." I will go find a pole or tree and heel straight at it. As I get RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT, I will turn. If the dog is used to swinging wide, he will find himself on the other side of the tree. DO NOT STOP!, let the dog "correct" himself. He will get back to your side with a great deal of haste! REPEAT. You will see the dog adjusting position ... PRAISE!!!! REPEAT AS NECESSARY!

For a wide LEFT turn, you will immediately turn left AS SOON AS YOU FORCE the tree between you and the dog by walking directly at it.

REMEMBER, wide right, turn before the tree, wide left, turn immediately behind the tree.

HINT

Do not punish or nag the dog for learning errors. He MUST make mistakes in order to learn. ALWAYS welcome him back after a mistake requiring a correction. KEEP HIS ENTHUSIASM!

Until next time, Happy Heeling!

(Doreen has had Mastiffs for eight years, Rottweilers for ten years and has spent the last six years training. She is licensed by the National Dog Trainers Association and has been teaching for three years. Several articles on training have been written for the National Dog Trainers Newsletter. Her focus is on CGC, TDI and behavioral work, primarily with Mastiffs. Two of her Rotts are obedience titled. She has recently accepted the post of MCOA National Rescue Director).


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